An Impossible Occupation

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon?

Mark 6:3 (KJV)

Carpenter – Have you ever been to Israel? If not, then this verse probably holds no real challenge, but if you have, or have studied the environment, you might take issue with Yeshua’s occupation.

Israel has no forests. There’s really not much wood at all, especially not enough to provide someone with a means to live. Carpenters wouldn’t survive in Israel doing carpentry work. Israel, however, is full of rocks and stones. So are we to believe that Joseph and Yeshua made a living doing carpentry — working with wood in a desert that had none?

The closest wood that would be harvested came from Lebanon. You might remember the verses about this during the time David and Solomon gathered the supplies to build the Temple.

Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; (1 Kings 5:6)

The Greek word in question is tektōn which can mean “wood-worker” but more accurately means “builder” or “craftsman.”

In modern scholarship, the word has sometimes been re-interpreted from the traditional meaning of carpenter and has sometimes been translated as craftsman, as the meaning of builder is implied, but can be applied to both wood-work and stone masonry. (Markus Bockmuehl, The Cambridge Companion to Jesus, p.14)

So looks like this word can mean “stone masonry” as well. This begins to make more sense now. A man can make a living doing stone masonry work in Israel. There’s plenty of stones lying around.

Now think back to all the references Yeshua uses in regards to stone or rocks. He makes these references not out of thin air, but because He knew what He was talking about as a stone mason.

Does this cause you to pause and think? If the translators got this wrong, what else could they have misinterpreted? This is why it’s so important to study. So important to dig deeper. It doesn’t end, and it’s filled with the treasures of God.

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