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Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Who was Joseph’s father?

Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, was the adoptive father of Jesus. But who was Joseph’s father? Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel names a certain Jacob, whereas Luke’s says that Joseph was “son of Heli.” Why the seeming discrepancy?​—Luke 3:23; Matthew 1:16.

Matthew’s account reads: “Jacob became father to Joseph,” employing a Greek term indicating clearly that Jacob was Joseph’s natural father. So Matthew was tracing Joseph’s natural genealogy, the kingly line of David, through which the legal right to the throne passed to Joseph’s adoptive son, Jesus.

On the other hand, Luke’s account says: “Joseph, son of Heli.” That expression, “son of,” can be understood as “son-in-law of.” A similar case is found at Luke 3:27, where Shealtiel, whose real father was Jeconiah, is listed as “son of Neri.” (1 Chronicles 3:17; Matthew 1:12) Shealtiel was likely married to an unnamed daughter of Neri, thus becoming his son-in-law. Joseph was in the same sense “son” of Heli, as he married Heli’s daughter Mary. So Luke traces Jesus’ natural lineage “according to the flesh,” through his biological mother, Mary. (Romans 1:3) The Bible thus gives us two distinct and useful genealogies for Jesus.

What textiles and dyes were available in Bible times?

Dyed wool found in a cave near the Dead Sea, dated from before 135 C.E.

Sheep’s wool was widely used for fabrics in the ancient Middle East as was hair from goats and camels. The most common textiles were woolen, and the Bible frequently refers to sheep, shearing, and woolen clothing. (1 Samuel 25:2; 2 Kings 3:4; Job 31:20) Flax, used to produce linen, was grown in Egypt and Israel. (Genesis 41:42; Joshua 2:6) The Israelites of Bible times may not have grown cotton, but the Scriptures mention use of this fiber in Persia. (Esther 1:6) Silk was a costly luxury material, likely imported only by traveling merchants from the Far East.​—Revelation 18:11, 12.

“Wool came in a variety of natural colors, from clear white to dark brown with many shades between,” says the book Jesus and His World. In addition, wool was often dyed. An expensive purple dye was extracted from certain mollusks, and various plants, roots, leaves, and insects were used to produce dyes in such colors as red, yellow, blue, and black.