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Was Yahushua a Carpenter?


Where was Yahushua during the years of his life from age 12 to 29, and what was he doing? This is not a doctrinal question, but it is interesting to consider whether people's answer to this question is based upon the Bible, tradition, or other books.

The popular belief is that he was a carpenter in Nazareth. Does the Bible indicate this?

Note: The Greek word is "tekton", which means "craftsman" or "builder", not necessarily "carpenter". I am not questioning the exact translation of "tekton" - I am questioning whether he was a "tekton" himself, or just the son of a "tekton".

illustration Did Yahushua really live and work in Nazareth from 12 to 29 years old?

The Carpenter's Son

Let's see what Luke 4:16-22 says:

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. 22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?

Notice that near the beginning of his ministry, he went to "Nazareth, where he had been brought up", and went to the synagogue. According to the standard chronology, he had recently closed the carpenter shop, gone to be baptized, fasted in the wilderness, went to Jerusalem, and was now returning to Nazareth. He had supposedly been gone only a few months.

Why does Luke make it sound like Nazareth was only his boyhood home "where he had been brought up" if he had been working there all his life? Was his "custom" to go specifically to the synagogue at Nazareth on the Sabbath, or just to go to some synagogue?

Note Matthew's account, Matthew 13:54-22:

54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

Why were the people astonished, if he had been going to the synagogue at Nazareth all his life? Hadn't they heard him speak before? Or did he never say anything before?

Why do they call him "the carpenter's son", and mention his other family members who were still living in Nazareth? Wouldn't we expect them to say something like:


illustration Yahushua preached at the synagogue of Nazareth, but the townspeople seemed confused as to who he was.

Closed his shop at 29?

The popular viewpoint is that Yahushua worked daily in the carpenter shop of Nazareth until John the Baptist started preaching. An example is found in the quote below:

Tidings of the wilderness prophet [John the Baptist] and his wonderful announcement, spread throughout Galilee. The message reached the peasants in the remotest hill towns, and the fisher folk by the sea, and in these simple, earnest hearts found its truest response. In Nazareth it was told in the carpenter shop that had been Joseph's, and One [Yahushua] recognized the call. His time had come. Turning from His daily toil, He [Yahushua] bade farewell to His mother, and followed in the steps of His countrymen who were flocking to the Jordan.
"Desire of Ages", by E.G. White

If that was the case, why didn't the townspeople know him? Now, you may say that the objective of the townspeople was to insult Yahushua, so their testimony is not valid. But if they simply were trying to insult him, wouldn't they say something like:

instead of questioning whether this Yahushua was the same as Joseph's son that they had known years before?

A straight reading of Matthew's account suggests that the townspeople had not seen Yahushua in many years, in contrast to his immediate family, who were still living there, and with whom they were familiar.

Mark's account Mark 6:2-3 is similar to Matthew:

2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

Note that Mark does say "carpenter", not "carpenter's son", but the context is that they are sure about where Mary and the brothers and sisters were living, but are not quite sure if this Yahushua is really the same person. Perhaps they remember him as working in the carpenter shop when he was younger, but hadn't seen him in years.

Why would they be astonished in what he taught, if he was a regular member of the Nazareth synagogue?

Allegedly Yahushua lived and worked out of his shop in the same place for 17 years. Yet the townspeople knew his mother and sisters more than they knew him. This was the men who were doing the talking in the synagogue incident. Remember that women in that culture didn't associate freely with men, and yet the townsmen were more familiar with Mary and the sisters than they were with a carpenter who supposedly had a business in town.

Why? Because the women still lived there, and Yahushua had moved out years ago. That's why they just remember him as the "carpenter's son", a boy who was helping Joseph in the shop years before.

John 1:38 shows that Andrew and Peter addressed Yahushua as "Rabbi" after he returned from the 40 days of fasting. (This was before his first miracle at Cana.)

illustration As a young man in the Temple, Yahushua said he was to be about his Father's business.