as yet they had not been married?—H. M., United States.
Matthew 1:18, 19, reads: “The birth of Jesus Christ was in this way. During the time his mother Mary was promised in marriage to Joseph, she was found to be pregnant by holy spirit before they were united. However, Joseph her husband, because he was righteous and did not want to make her a public spectacle, intended to divorce her secretly.”
Thus the record shows that Mary was only engaged and not as yet married to Joseph. However, the word “divorce” is properly used here because among the Israelites the engaged woman was considered under the same obligation as if she were married. Thus when a single girl was found guilty of fornication she and the man, if single also, were required to get married. But if an engaged girl had relations with another man she was stoned the same as an adulteress. Because of the binding nature of the engagement back there it is proper to speak of Joseph considering divorcing Mary even though no marriage ceremony had taken place, uniting him and her in wedlock.—Deut. 22:22-29.
● Will you please explain Jeremiah 31:22 (AV): “A woman shall compass a man”?—J. B., Nyasaland.
This phrase in itself is capable of more than one rendering. Thus the Revised Standard Version reads: “A woman protects a man.” Moffatt’s translation reads: “Frail woman becomes manly!” Rotherham reads: “A female defendeth a strong man!” A number read as does the question based on the King James Version. None of these, however, take into consideration the context, which deals with Israel’s unfaithfulness.
The New World Translation of Jeremiah 31:22 reads much more understandably, namely: “A mere female will press around an able-bodied man.” This is the new thing that Jehovah God says he would create in the earth. Up till then his people, to whom he was in the relationship of marriage, were turning this way and that in unfaithfulness. Now Jehovah God invites the virgin of Israel to set up roadmarks and signposts to guide her back and to fix her heart upon the highway that leads back. Jehovah will put his spirit in her so that she will be most eager to come back. Thus as a wife would press around her husband in order to get back into good graces or relations with him, so Israel, to whom Jehovah God had been married, would press around him in order to get back into good relations with him as her husband according to the Law covenant. Incidentally, this thought is also implied in the reading of An American Translation: “The woman woos the man!”
The Bible says, “The one listening to me, he will reside in security and be undisturbed from dread of calamity.” (Prov. 1:33) The need for such security is great, and it is available to those who listen to the wisdom of God. To listen to God, one must have his Word the Bible to read and study in understandable language. Therefore, during this month Jehovah’s witnesses will make a special effort to offer to all persons the modern-English New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, the complete Bible in one volume, for $1 a copy.
AVAILABLE FOR EVERYONE!
Everyone in your family can now have a copy of the complete Bible for personal reading and enjoyment. The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is in the language of today and is especially designed for easy reading. It has a comprehensive concordance, maps and drawings, is bound in a beautiful green cover with gold-imprinted title, yet it is only $1. Do you know someone else who would like a personal copy of God’s Word? Send today.
“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
January 7: United Against Nations in the Valley of Decision, ¶1-29. Page 712.
January 14: United Against Nations in the Valley of Decision, ¶30-60. Page 719.