The Scriptures’ ‘silent man’ did what the Lord commanded without hesitation
By Leila S. al-Imad, Ph.D.
The silent man of the Scriptures, but one of the most influential characters of the New Testament. His strength and power come from his acceptance without reluctance the command given to him in a dream. He was, if one could speculate, chosen, even before he knew it. God in His wisdom knew, as He always does, that Joseph if told or asked will always obey Him. He, the Lord, knew that Joseph will never abandon the woman who He had chosen to carry His son.
Joseph’s silence is powerful, as we know from the Scriptures, even before the dream in which the Lord spoke to him; He was willing in silence to divorce Mary so as not to have her be shunned or even killed when she was found carrying a child. He had been promised Mary as a wife, and in the Jewish tradition, which has a ketubah, an agreement or document signifying his intent to marry, but he was not yet married, as consummation of the marriage in such a tradition came sometimes way later, if the families had arranged such marriage when their children were very young.
Be it as it may, Joseph, one would speculate, must have been raised by parents who taught him proper manners (godly manners); otherwise he would have never, in his day and age, been able to restrain himself from making Mary’s plight, pregnant without a spouse, a horrible and horrid one. Joseph proved to be an obedient man who did not question the Lord whose message he heard in a dream. In contrast, Moses argued with God whether h he was the right person to go and save his people from the wrath of the Pharaohs. He even asked God why He, the Lord, could not ask someone else; Joseph humbly accepted to marry Mary and to become the foster father of Christ. Furthermore, he was even told to name him Jesus. Contrary to tradition of the Ancient Middle East, where the father would always name the newborn baby boy, Joseph did what the Lord commanded without hesitation. He accepted and did God’s will, totally trusting in His Creator, as he embarked on an unknown voyage directed by God.
Joseph’s faith cannot be matched. A man who delivered the Son of God alone and accepted that his own abode become the House of the Lord, never stopped doing the right thing for Jesus …. He carried him to the land of Egypt when the Lord told him to do so. Obedient and faithful, he left his home, tribe, family, and career and sought refuge, as an immigrant and refugee in the unfamiliar land of Egypt.
What an example of faith that moves mountains Joseph was and is. He no doubt, even if he did not understand all that was ordained for him, acted accordingly. He perceived and believed in doing what was the right thing to do. He was a very responsible father and a great supporter of Mary. When Jesus was discovered to have been left behind, in the House of the Lord, he traveled back with Mary to find the child, and he readily accepted what Jesus gave as an answer why he stayed behind. No ill feeling or anger was emitted by him that we know of. Joseph was an ideal father and husband of Mary, an example of an honorable, humble character who is a model of a spouse and father for that era and for ours.
Dr. Leila al-Imad is an associate professor of Middle Eastern history and the history of Islam at East Tennessee State University. She is a member of St. Mary Parish in Johnson City.