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NIV Mark 6:3 Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.

1) Noah built a wooden ark to be saved.

Genesis:6.14 " Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.

2) Bezalel and Aholiab built the ark of the covenant for Moses

Exodus:31.2 "See, I have called by name Bezalel... "And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and... in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.

3) Judah and Jerusalem were restored by the Carpenters in Zech 1:20-21

QUESTION:

Is there a deeper scriptural reason to Jesus being a Carpenter ?

I want to know if there was any prophetic imperative either subtle or overt that give meaning to Jesus being a Carpenter

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    I've voted to close as off-topic. This is not asking about exegesis of a text, but a specific (and very broad) theological harmonization of several texts. – user2910 Nov 26 '17 at 20:26
  • I modified the question to address a particular passage. I notice this question got an up vote while my question, while associated with a particular passage was down voted several times! Lol. – Ruminator Nov 26 '17 at 23:09
  • The cross on which He was crucified was made from a tree. – Revelation Lad Nov 27 '17 at 7:37
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Yes, it was prophesied that the Messiah was to be a craftsman1 (carpenter) in Zechariah 1:20:

NIV Zechariah 1: 18Then I looked up, and there before me were four horns. 19I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?” He answered me, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.” 20Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. 21I asked, “What are these coming to do?” He answered, “These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise their head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.”

According to the Talmud, (Sukka 52b) the earliest theological writings we have from Rabbis and Jewish scholarship, the 4 craftsmen2 were The Messiah, son of David; the Messiah, son of Joseph, Elijah and Melchizedek, the high priest.

§ Apropos the end of days, the Gemara cites another verse and interprets it homiletically. It is stated: “The Lord then showed me four craftsmen” (Zechariah 2:3). Who are these four craftsmen? Rav Ḥana bar Bizna said that Rabbi Shimon Ḥasida said: They are Messiah ben David, Messiah ben Yosef, Elijah, and the righteous High Priest, who will serve in the Messianic era. Rav Sheshet raised an objection: If so, if that is the identity of the four craftsmen, then that which is written in the previous verse: “And he said to me: These are the horns that scattered Judea” (Zechariah 2:2), is difficult; these four in the first verse are coming for their enemies, and are not redeemers.

Rav Ḥana said to Rav Sheshet: Go to the end of the verse: “These then are come to frighten them, to cast down the horns of the nations, which lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it.” This indicates that the horns refer to the nations that exiled the Jewish people and that the four craftsmen will hurl those horns aside. Rav Sheshet said to him: Why should I disagree with Rav Ḥana in matters of aggada, where he is more expert than I, and I cannot prevail?

It is likely that most of the beliefs outlined in the Talmud were held as oral tradition during Jesus times, the the writings of the Talmud are believed to record the teachings of several rabbinical schools of thought as they had been passed down from teacher to student for many generations.

It is for this reason (among many others) that the authors of the Gospels provided detailed genealogies, that Jesus was often placed in the position of Elijah in literary parallels and frequently mistaken for Elijah (though John the Baptist was also thought to be Elijah) and in Hebrews 7, the author makes the arguement that Jesus was the High Priest "in the order of Melchizedek". All of these culminate to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah 1:20, but are dependant on Jesus being a craftsman.

In addition to this, this also helps to serve to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

This is because craftsman had an extremely low social status. By having this trade, Jesus was able to be of humble origins, thus partially fulfilling this prophecy as well.

Finally, being a craftsman serves the narrative that Jesus was unexpected. Instead of coming and claiming victory over the Roman occupiers as was expected, Jesus instead dismantled the highly stratified Jewish socio-political honor-shame class system. Time after time, the Gospels depict Jesus as being more highly regarded than the Jewish and Roman elites: a Centurion seeks help from Jesus, Jesus frequently proves his intellectual superiority over the San Hedron, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and Experts of the Law. But Jesus did not come from a class of elites, but instead was a lowly craftsmen. This turns the system on it's head.


1 Neither the Hebrew nor the Greek can be taken to explicitly mean carpenter. חָרָשׁ which appears in Zechariah 1:20 (translated carpenter) merely means craftsman. It is used to describe masons, engravers and other types of stoneworkers as well as carpenters. The same is technically true of the Greek τέκτων, However, τέκτων is frequently contrasted in Greek writings with stone-worker or mason (λιθολόγος, λαξευτής) even though it could encompass these trades. So, λιθολόγος and λαξευτής can be thought of as types of τέκτων or a specialty within the field of τέκτων. Because there were Greek words for λιθολόγος and λαξευτής however, unless context dictated otherwise, it would be assumed this referred to carpentry as the more specific term would be otherwise used. That being said, there is a strong case based on the types of homes built near Nazareth, that there would have been little woodworking available and Jesus and Joseph likely worked with stone. It seems to me however, that Jesus might have also been familiar with both woodworking and stonecutting, and I see no reason to pigeonhole him into one expertise. I think there is a lot of literary value in not just the Ark of the Covenant and Noah's ark being salvific and Jesus being a skilled carpenter, but also in Jesus being a stoneworker and the rock upon which Peter built the church, the one who could move the stone of his tomb and the one who would destroy the foundations of the temple and build it up again.

2 It occurs to me that we have 4 Gospels, each depicting a different aspect of The Craftsman and Messiah, Jesus. These don't seem to quite correspond to the 4 craftsman as they were understood by the Talmud, but this is an interesting coincidence.

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  • Your views on the Greek term τέκτων makes a lot of sense. It makes him fit more fully into the the role earthly men like Bezalel and Aholiab played in constructing the earthly tabernacle. – user20490 Nov 26 '17 at 21:54
  • I would need upvotes to get more attention and more answers to this question. I need many view points in order to complete a teaching that I'm working on. – user20490 Nov 26 '17 at 21:57
  • @user20490 - If this question is of particular importance to you, consider offering a bounty. I know that Elika Kohen got a pretty good return on his investment with his recent bounty. – James Shewey Nov 26 '17 at 22:17
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I think this might be a relevant allusion, however when I asked a question to that effect it was quickly voted into oblivion so it has not been vetted by this site:

NET Bible Proverbs 8: 22The Lord created me as the beginning of his works, before his deeds of long ago. 23From eternity I was appointed, from the beginning, from before the world existed. 24When there were no deep oceans I was born, when there were no springs overflowing with water; 25before the mountains were set in place – before the hills – I was born, 26before he made the earth and its fields, or the beginning of the dust of the world. 27When he established the heavens, I was there; when he marked out the horizon over the face of the deep, 28when he established the clouds above, when the fountains of the deep grew strong, 29when he gave the sea his decree that the waters should not pass over his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 30then I was beside him as a master craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, rejoicing before him at all times, 31rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and delighting in its people.

It is wisdom (personified) who is speaking. In both Hebrew and Koine "wisdom" is a feminine word and in places is clearly a feminine character. However, "workman" is masculine and the NT clearly associates Jesus with wisdom:

NIV (I think) 1 Corinthians 1:24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom ["sophia"] of God.

While the association is clear it is less clear that there is an identification.

If Jesus is "Sophia" then he is the first of God's creation and the creator of all else:

NIV Colossians 1: 15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Douay-Rheims Bible Revelation 3:14 And to the angel of the church of Laodicea, write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, who is the beginning of the creation of God:

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  • I would suggest the reason it was downvoted is that wisdom literature is typically not regarded as prophetic, and these associations to link Jesus with wisdom in order to create a fulfilled prophecy seem tenuous and strained. – James Shewey Nov 26 '17 at 16:07
  • @JamesShewey I don't think so. Wisdom literature fits well with his answer. This is because the carpentry skills of Bezalel and Aholiab originate in the wisdom gifts that they were endowed with. So Ruminator's use of wisdom literature is acceptable. But I'm still open to other answers. – user20490 Nov 26 '17 at 16:54
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    @user20490 - I'm not saying this is correct or commenting on the merits, I'm speculating why it may have been downvoted previosly – James Shewey Nov 26 '17 at 17:00

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