Matthew 13:55

55 1Is not this 2the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not 3his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

Matthew 13:55 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 13:55

Is not this the carpenter's son?
&c.] Meaning Joseph, who was by trade a carpenter, and whose son Jesus was supposed to be; and who very probably was now dead, which may be the reason he is not mentioned by name. The Greek word here used, signifies any mechanic, or artificer. The Syriac expresses it by a word, which signifies both a carpenter and a blacksmith; and Munster's Hebrew Gospel renders it, (axpn Nb) , "the blacksmith's son". But the generally received notion of the ancient Christians is, that he was a carpenter, and that Jesus was brought up to the same business, which lay in making ploughs and yokes F17. This also appears, from the answer the Christian schoolmaster at Antioch gave to Libanius the sophister; who being big with expectation of Julian the apostate's getting the victory, asked the schoolmaster, what he thought the carpenter's son was doing? To which, after a short pause, he replied; O sophister! the Creator of all things, whom thou callest the carpenter's son, is making a coffin for Julian; who accordingly died in a few days after F18. The Jews make mention of one Abba Joseph, (yanbh) , "the builder", or carpenter F19; but whether the same, is not certain. What they here say, was no doubt by way of derision and contempt; and yet the same phrase is used by them of a person of great note and fame, for his wisdom and knowledge: thus speaking of a difficult point, they F20 say,

``(rgn rb alw rgn tyl) , "no carpenter", or smith, or a carpenter's son, can solve this: says R. Shesheth, I am neither a carpenter, nor a carpenter's son, and I can solve it.''

The gloss upon it is,

``a wise man, the son of a wise man.''

Is not his mother called Mary?
Plain Mary, without any other title, or civil respect; a poor spinstress, that got her bread by her hand labour: the Jews say F21, she was a plaiter of women's hair, and treat her with the utmost scorn.

And his brethren;
not strictly so, but either the sons of Joseph by a former wife; or Mary's, or Joseph's brothers or sisters sons, and so cousins to Christ; it being usual with the Jews to call such, and even more distant relations, brethren:

the son of Alphaeus, or Cleophas, one of Christ's disciples, ( Matthew 10:3 ) called the Lord's brother, ( 1:19 ) and the same that wrote the epistle that bears his name:

and Joses;
or Joseph, as the Vulgate Latin, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel read; and which two names are one and the same: hence, in Talmudic writings, we often read of R. Jose, who is the same with R. Joseph F23: this Joses is, by Dr. Lightfoot, conjectured to be the same with Joseph, called Barsabas, who was put in nomination for apostleship, after the death of Judas, ( Acts 1:23 )

And Simon;
or Symeon, the son of Cleophas, who is said F24 to succeed James, as bishop of Jerusalem, and to be Christ's cousin, being son of Cleophas, the brother of Joseph, the supposed father of Christ:

and Judas;
the same that is called Lebbaeus, and Thaddaeus, ( Matthew 10:3 ) and the brother of James, ( Luke 6:16 ) and the same that wrote the epistle that goes by his name. The Jews ought not to have made these remarks, since many of their great doctors were of mean parentage; as R. Zachariah was a butcher's son F25, and R. Jochanan a blacksmith's son F26; hence that advice of R. Juda ben Bethira F1,

``take heed that ye do not reproach the sons of the common people, for from them comes forth the law.''


F17 Justin Martyr. Dialog. cum Tryph. p. 316.
F18 Tripartit. Hist. 1. 6. c. 44.
F19 Shemoth Rabba, sect. 13. fol. 99. 2.
F20 T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 50. 2.
F21 T. Bab. Sabbat. fol. 104. 2. Chagiga, fol. 4. 2. Sanhedrim, fol. 67. 1.
F23 Vid. Juchasin, fol. 61. & 62.
F24 Euseb. Eccl. Hist. 1. 3. c. 11.
F25 Misn. Sota, c. 5. sect. 1.
F26 T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 96. 1.
F1 Ib.

Matthew 13:55 In-Context

53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there,
54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?
55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?"
57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household."

Cross References 3

  • 1. [Luke 4:22; John 6:42]
  • 2. [Mark 6:3]
  • 3. See Matthew 12:46
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