The Official Journal of the Ensign Trust, London






Poor Man – Rich Man

A Study In Facts And History

I am sure that all of you have often heard the statement of Jesus being, quote, “The poor carpenter  or the poor son of the carpenter from Nazareth”. I certainly have. On many occasions in the past I would have agreed with this assumption but at this time I would like to challenge that thought and see if this really was the  case.

Nowhere in the Gospels is Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, and the husband of Mary, the mother  of our Lord Jesus, called a carpenter. But in Matthew 13:55 Jesus is called the carpenter’s son and Jesus is called the carpenter in Mark 6:3. Both Matthew and Mark are in these verses relating the same incident and it is my contention that they should both have read carpenter’s son, for there  is no  indication  anywhere  in Scripture that Jesus at any time was a carpenter by trade or profession. So if Jesus was the  carpenter ‘s son that would indicate that Joseph was indeed a carpenter, but that does not indicate that Joseph and therefore his family was poor. In today’s society  carpenters and other trades people are not considered upper class or middle class but working class. This is not a demeaning statement or meant to be, for this writer was one for fifty years. But in the olden days including the time of Jesus earthly sojourn, trades people including carpenters were held in high esteem. In a society that was mostly agricultural they could produce for others what the  others  were  not able to make for themselves and for those services  they were paid well and willingly. So it is doubtful that Joseph and therefore his family, including Jesus, were poor.

Now let’s examine the second indicator. We read in Matthew 2:1-2 shortly after the birth of our Lord, “Behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem” and inquiring, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? (I prefer Judean here) for we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him.” So let’s first see who these wise men were and where they came from. Both verses quoted indicate that they came from the east. What lay to the east of Palestine and who lived to the east of Palestine? As we all know Palestine was occupied by the Romans at the time of the birth of Jesus, and that occupied territory stretched as far east as the Euphrates river, but just beyond that border line lay the Parthian Empire. If we read Steve Collins’ book about Israel and its lost empires, and in particular the book entitled  Parthia we read about how the Parthians had held the Romans at bay and even on several occasions had defeated the Romans and drove them back. So at the time that Jesus was born there existed an uneasy truce between the Romans and the Parthians with the demarcation line being the Euphrates river. But who are the Parthians? It is generally believed that the Parthians or at least the ruling class, were dispersed Israelites, from both the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations, and that they were closely related to the Scythians, who lived beyond the Caucasus and who, as we Identity Christians believe, were the bulk of the dispersed Israelites.

We read in Matthew 2:2 that the wise men had seen the star that shone when Christ was born, from the east. So they were in all likelihood Astronomers and Astrologers. And when they had seen the star, they in all likelihood, poured over ancient writings and scrolls to find out the significance of this occurrence, and in doing so they must have come across the prophecy of Isaiah as is found in chapter 9:6, 7 and also 11:1,10 where the birth of the Messiah is foretold and also His Kingship. Their research more than likely took some time, after which the wheels were set in motion to send an envoy bearing gifts to the new born’ King. The distance from Parthia to Jerusalem was anywhere from 6 to 8 hundred miles. To travel that distance with a camel caravan would have taken at least thirty to forty days, maybe even longer. So it is safe to assume, that by the time the “wise men” arrived in Jerusalem, that Jesus was between 3 and 6 months old, and not still in the manger as so many Christmas stories want us to believe.

Anyway, after making inquiries, Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem according to Micah’s  prophecy  (see Micah 5:2). Yet after leaving Jerusalem the wise men again followed the star, which brought them to where Jesus was, which I believe was Nazareth and it was there that they delivered their gifts. Now they came to pay homage to a King and therefore they brought a King’s ransom, and not just a few gold trinkets  and,  spices  and incense.

So what would constitute a King’s ransom? In I Kings 10:10 we read of the ransom that the Queen of Sheba gave unto Solomon. Besides the great amount of spices  and  precious  stones,  she  gave  120 talents of gold. At to-day ‘s gold prices that would amount to approximately 16 to 18 million dollars  worth.  From  this  we can assume that the gift to Jesus, whom the Parthian regarded as their own  King,  was  quite  substantial.  This fortune was in all likelihood laid up in trust until Jesus had reached the age of maturity. So this is the second indicator that Jesus was  not  poor.  When  our Lord started His ministry, He chose twelve disciples, some  of whom  were   most   likely   breadwinners,   and  we know from Scripture that Peter was  married, yet we do not find them begging in any of the Gospels. It is therefore my contention that Jesus financed His own ministry and paid the bills so to say, and also sustained the twelve that were constantly with Him. But He had one richness that we do not possess, and this  is that He was one with the Father. So let us therefore strive to be one with Him and thus share in that richness of His glory.

Courtesy Of The Association Of The Covenant People