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Question 257

My question to you father is, how long were Mary and Joseph together before she became pregnant with Jesus and why weren't they married?     

 

Answer to Question 257

 

We are not told how long after the betrothal Mary was found with child, but I would think not very long as in those days there was no need to wait or save up to buy a house. I would also think that Joseph didn't know about the pregnancy until Mary was about three months and started to show.St. Luke tells us that as soon as Mary was told of her conception by the Angel Gabriel and also of Elizabeth's pregnancy with st. John the baptist, she visited Elizabeth and stayed with her for three months. So Joseph must have learnt about Mary's pregnancy when she returned and being a rational man could only assume that she had been unfaithful during the time she was away. As for Joseph and Mary being married, according to the ancient Jewish Law, the betrothal was the preparation period before the wedding similar to as it is today. The wedding took place when the man received the woman into his house. But the betrothal was a binding relationship with obligations between the betrothed. If for example the man died before the wedding, the woman was considered a widow. After the betrothal and before the wedding, the man was the legal husband and the bond could only be loosed if the man gave the woman a written release and monetary compensation. So even though they didn't have an official marriage ceremony they were according to the law man and wife, but between themselves they remained as betrothed and the marriage was never consummated by sharing the same bed.