Was Joseph (Jesus’ Stepfather) a Good Jew?

Joseph pulling a donkey with Mary on itReading in Matthew today, I ran into this again:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly (Matthew 1:18-19, English Standard Version).

As I understand it (and confirmed by the ESV Study Bible), if Mary was unfaithful during betrothal, it was considered adultery.

Which leads to this:

If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death (Leviticus 20:10).

When modern liberal churches water-down (or downright negate) the clear commandment and teaching of Scripture, we traditionalists condemn it (and rightly so).

How about Joseph? Was he watering-down the clear commandment of Scripture because of his love of Mary and/or wimpishness, and/or…?

If not, why not?

P.S. I may update this post in the future with my take…but something to consider: In that Joseph appears to be avoiding the ramifications of God’s law considering adultery, I could ask him, “Isn’t it a just law?” Yet, note how it he is described as “being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame.”

Whatever our answer is it has to intersect a just law with the actions of a just man…


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