Mt 1:18-25


MT 1:18-25

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.

How would divorcing Mary keep her from shame?


maybe he wanted to divorce her quietly , instead of making a public scene, which could have happened if husbands found their wives to be unfaithful.


I looked up Haydock’s commentary, and your explanation seems go along with it:

Ver. 19. And Joseph her husband, knowing her strict virtue, was surprised at this her pregnancy, but “being a just man,” and not willing to expose her, by denouncing her, or giving her a bill of divorce, he had a mind to dismiss her privately, committing the whole cause to God. Let us learn from Joseph to be ever tender of our neighbour’s reputation, and never to entertain any injurious thoughts, or any suspicions to his prejudice. (Haydock)

I somehow missed the quietly meaning.


This is consistent with the note on this found in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary (NJBC). It states that "a just man: Joseph’s justice consists in obedience to the law (Deut 22: 20, 21) but this is tempered by his compassion, which prevents him from want to exact the full penalty of the law, stoning. secretly: In contrast to the trial by ordeal through the waters of the red heifer (Num 5: 11-31).

This brief explanation provides a great insight into Joseph, a just and at the same time compassionate man.

Thank you for the opportunity to use my NJBC.



Thanks. I think I’m at peace with that verse now.


Mary could have been stoned for adultery under the Law of Moses. Quietly divorcing Mary would have been an act of mercy, sparing her from shame and possible physical punishment. .

And all who love the Lord God in truth and righteousness will rejoice, showing mercy to our brethren. (Tobit 14:7)



Here is what it says in the Ignatius Study Bible:

1:19 just man: Or “righteous man”. The expression highlights Joseph’s moral character in the following narrative (1:18-25). send her away: Two interpretations attempt to explain why Joseph decided to separate from Mary. They give opposite answers to the question: Who did Joseph think was the unworthy partner in the betrothal? (1) The Suspicion Theory. This view holds that Joseph suspected Mary of adultery when he discovered she was pregnant. The troubling news led him to seek a divorce in accordance with Deut 24:1-4, although he wished to do this secretly to avoid subjecting Mary to the rigorous law of Deut 22:23-24, which mandates capital punishment for adulterers. Joseph was a just man inasmuch as he resolved to act (divorce) in accordance with the Mosaic law. This common interpretation suffers from a serious weakness: Joseph’s desire to follow the law for divorce (Deut 24) does not square with his willingness to sidestep the law prescribed for adulterers (Deut 22). A truly righteous man would keep God’s law completely, not selectively. (2) The Reverence Theory. This view holds that Joseph, already informed of the divine miracle within Mary (1:18), considered himself unworthy to be part of God’s work in this unusual situation (cf. Lk 5:8; 7:6). His resolve to separate quietly from Mary is thus viewed as a reverent and discretionary measure to keep secret the mystery within her. Notably, the expression to put her to shame is weaker in Greek than in the translation: it means that Joseph did not wish to “exhibit” Mary in a public way. The angelic announcement in 1:20, then, directs Joseph to set aside pious fears that would lead him away from his vocation to be the legal father of the Davidic Messiah. This view more aptly aligns Joseph’s righteousness with his intentions.


Thank you for this.


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