Jesus is growing up in Nazareth, a rather small, unimportant city. It is located up north, in the hill country of an area called Galilee, to the west of the large lake known as the Sea of Galilee.
When he is perhaps two years of age, Jesus is brought here from Egypt by Joseph and Mary. It seems that at this time, he is their only child. Later, however, his half brothers are born—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. Joseph and Mary also become parents to girls, Jesus’ half sisters. Yes, Jesus has at least six younger brothers and sisters.
Of course, Jesus has other relatives. We already know about Elizabeth and her son, John. He lives many miles to the south, in Judea. Living close by in Galilee is Salome, who is apparently Mary’s sister and thus Jesus’ aunt. Salome’s husband is Zebedee. Their two sons, James and John, would seem to be Jesus’ first cousins. We do not know whether Jesus spends much time with these boys while they are growing up, but eventually they become his close companions, serving as two of Jesus’ apostles.
Joseph has to work very hard to support his growing family. He is a carpenter. Joseph raises Jesus as his own son, so Jesus is called “the carpenter’s son.” (Matthew 13:55) Joseph teaches Jesus to be a carpenter too, and he learns well. In fact, people later say about Jesus: “This is the carpenter.”—Mark 6:3.
The life of Joseph’s family is centered on the worship of Jehovah. In keeping with God’s Law, Joseph and Mary give their children spiritual instruction ‘when they sit in their house and when they walk on the road and when they lie down and when they get up.’ (Deuteronomy 6:6-9) There is a synagogue in Nazareth. We can be sure that Joseph regularly takes his family along to worship there. It is later said that “according to his custom on the Sabbath day,” Jesus went to the synagogue. (Luke 4:16) The family also finds great enjoyment in regular trips to Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem.