How often have we been taught or have heard teachings or messages from Yehovah’s anointed (or for that matter non-anointed) teachers stipulating that Yeshua’s family did not believe Him to be the Messiah-especially Yeshua’s brothers. Time and time again, this passage, along with Mark 3:21 (And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”), are used to put forth a doctrine or belief system that contends Yeshua’s earthly family had serious reservations and doubts as to Yeshua’s Messiah-ship. But what if I were to tell you and show you that this doctrine and belief system is likely a great hoax, a tremendous falsehood, and possibly even a tool used by the enemy to put forth misleading information about Yeshua’s earthly support system? Would you have a change of heart on this issue? Or would tradition prevail over reason and true rational scholarship? You be the judge. But for what its worth, for this moment, consider what I have to tell you absent any denominationalism or traditions. Just maybe you will see Yeshua from an entirely different perspective and praise Yehovah for His amazing grace and truth.
I am writing and recording this episode while vacationing and celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles in beautiful Aruba. While enjoying these Fall Feasts of the Lord (Yehovah), I came upon event 125 of Michael Rood’s Chronological Gospels which corresponded to the 11th Day of the 7th Month, 4027 from creation or Wednesday, October 1, 27 CE. The event is titled “Yeshua’s (Jesus’) family leaves for the Feast of Tabernacles, found in John 7. I hadn’t read this particular passage in quite some time, but upon reading it this time, I was struck by verses 4 and 5 which read: “For there is no man that does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known openly. If you are really going to do this, declare yourself to the world. (For neither did His brothers believe in Him.)
Now for years I’d heard that this particular passage documented, sadly speaking that is, that Yeshua’s family saw Him as an impostor or at the very least a “nut-case.” I recall that Mark 3:21 was often added to this equation, which reads: “And when His family heard it, they went out to seize Him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of His mind.’” I must admit, any casual reading of this passage would certainly suggest that Yeshua’s family had some serious issues with Him and His ministry. I fell into this mindset lock-stock-and-barrel and said to myself, what else could these passages mean if not that Yeshua’s family had issues with Him and they did not support His ministry? Furthermore, I’d never heard definitively that Yeshua even had any siblings. All I’d known for decades was that Yeshua had a mother by the name of Mary who conceived Him miraculously without the union of a male seed to her ovum or egg; that the conception was through the agency of the Holy Spirit/Ruach Kodesh. Additionally there was Joseph, who had been betrothed to Mary at the time of Mary’s miraculous conception. Yet Joseph was led by an angel to stay with Mary in spite of what would appear to anyone else on the planet as Mary having messed around and gotten herself pregnant with another man’s baby outside of marriage. Beyond this couple and subsequently Yeshua, there was no one else in that immediate family, despite siblings being recorded in the Gospel record of Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. Yet this reality, this fact, to my knowledge, has rarely been taught or expounded upon.
It wasn’t until I happened upon Robert Eisenman’s book, “James the Brother of Jesus” and James Tabor’s book, “The Jesus Dynasty” that this whole idea of Yeshua being without earthly family to emotionally and physically support Him was challenged. I learned, shockingly so, that indeed, Yeshua had both male and female siblings who supported Him in His ministry. In fact, James the Less or James son of Alphaeus (as recorded in some Gospel accounts), is today believed to be Yeshua’s brother whom Yeshua gave charge over the ministry after Yeshua’s resurrection. Not only that, Yeshua called James and another brother (granted these were half-brothers) Jude (or Judas–not Judas Iscariot) to be two of His inner circle of 12-disciples who would later go on to be Apostles and who would pen epistles under their respective names–reference 13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; 14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, 16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. (Luk 6:13-16 KJV) Don’t get thrown off regarding James being the son of Alphaeus–I’ll speak to “the son of Alphaeus” in just a bit. In addition, Yeshua seems to have had a sister by the name of Salome (reference Mark 15:40).
Upon coming across this information from two obvious non-believers in Messiah, I was floored. Not just floored, I was angry. I was angry that Churchianity seemed to go out of its way to teach that Yeshua/Jesus either had no siblings or the siblings He had did not think much of Him; that they doubted His Messiah-ship and even thought Him to be insane; this false doctrine and tradition is still today being taught in the Christian Church? Why? I have a good answer to that. But before I expound on the why, let me first say that I respect both Eisenman and Tabor. They are outstanding scholars in their own right. However, I must say that I do not accept the vast majority of the material that they’ve written in their respective books, specifically their negative commentaries on the miraculous conception and their seeming denials of Yeshua’s sonship to Yehovah/God. These gentlemen come from a pure scholarly perspective and they do not hold to any belief that Yeshua is The Messiah, the son of Yehovah. In fact, Tabor insinuates that Mary was impregnated by a Roman soldier (I believe that’s whom he asserts is Yeshua’s father) and he gives absolutely no credibility to Yehovah’s Ruach in the conception story. But I’m okay with that. Neither Eisenman nor Tabor pull any punches and they are both transparent in their assertions. So you know what you’re getting when you read their content. That being said, however, doesn’t mean that some of their content isn’t spot on in terms of truth. If one is to then take what these gentlemen put out in their books and contrast their content with the content of our Bibles, one will come to truth one way or another–assuming we bring no denominational or manmade traditional thinking influences to the discussion. So enough about Eisenman and Tabor for now.
So back to the why. Why has Churchianity gone to such great lengths to obscure the individuals in Yeshua’s earthly family? There are some very good reasons why and it all comes down to the mindset and perspectives of the early church fathers. The truth about Yeshua’s family was apparently well known for at least the first 3-centuries of the Church. By the 4th century a significant shift occurred in understanding of the Faith by Christian scholars and adherents. A few relevant events occurred during this period: (1) the Catholic Church by this time completely disavowed anything having to do with Judaism; (2) asceticism (that is viewing the carnal or material world as something to be shunned for that of the spiritual) began to take hold in various sectors of the Church; and (3) the doctrine of the immaculate conception and perpetual virginity of Mary took center-stage in the Faith, explaining away any chance that Yeshua had siblings and elevating Mary to a divine status in the Faith. Most would argue that this 3rd point is only relevant to the Catholic religion. But when one starts to peel away the layers of the onion which translates into the layers upon layers of lies that have been perpetrated upon the Body over the centuries, one can see very clearly that Catholicism’s influences remain in place even today in protestantism. I mean: the very fact that most Believers have no idea that Yeshua had siblings (again, half-siblings) should be indicative of this fact. Furthermore, the fact that most Believers have no inkling that the Apostles James and Jude were Yeshua’s brothers and held key roles in the first century Church and Jerusalem Council as referenced in Acts 15, is inexcusable when the information is readily out there for all to grab on to. Why does this matter? Well, maybe to most of us knowing the true disposition of Yeshua’s family towards Him and His ministry is not important or relevant to our faith and walk with Messiah. Indeed, our focus must be on our relationship with Messiah. I absolutely adhere and believe that with my whole heart. But, when we settle for the fodder that is taught to us by our church leaders without ever having the inclination to know or seek out the truth for ourselves, we are all then destined to or prone to accept whatever is put before us as long as it has some hint of ecclesiastical authority, so to speak. For me, knowing that Yeshua didn’t just rise from the dead, hang out with His disciples for 40-days, give a farewell speech on the Mount of Olives and then ascend to heaven to be with His Father without any organization to the Faith He Himself delivered to His chosen 11-disciples, tells me that this thing is serious enough and organized enough and it was not left to happenstance or some nebulous set of circumstances that we attribute to the work of the Ruach Kodesh. Indeed, the Ruach was key to the establishment of the true Faith once delivered. But there were plans within plans set in place by the Father before the foundation of time. Understanding just a small portion of this plan makes for me a much richer experience and closer walk with Messiah. Knowing the truth of the matter, so to speak, and not being blinded or fooled by the lies of the enemy is vital to every Believer. Understanding the truth of the whole matter of our Faith-especially matters related to our spiritual heritage-will be vital to our overcoming the tribulous (my word) times ahead.
So what about the issue of James being named as the son of Alphaeus? Well, certain scholars contend (and I happen to believe much of what they’ve uncovered in their research) that Joseph-the step-father to Yeshua and husband to Yeshua’s mother-likely died early on in Yeshua’s life. Assuming this was the case, Hebrew-Levirate Law provided for Mary/Miriam, Yeshua’s mother, to marry the eldest, unmarried brother of Joseph, have children by him, and thus carry on the lineage of Joseph. We know from various passages of the Gospels that Yeshua’s earthly parents were obedient to Torah and thus it would not be a stretch that if Joseph had passed away early on and during Miriam’s childbearing years Mary would have married one of Joseph’s brothers. The name Cleophas (also rendered Clopas in certain other translations) comes up in John 19:25 as being the husband of one of the women at the foot of the cross that held our Beloved Savior. The passage reads: These things therefore the soldiers did. But there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (Joh 19:25 ASV) The key areas of this verse I’d like to point your attention towards is “..standing by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” A casual reading of this verse would lead us to believe that there were 3-woman at the cross–(1) Mary, Yeshua’s mother; (2) Mary the wife of Clopas, the sister of, assuming it to be, Mary, Yeshua’s mother; and (3) Mary Magdalene. Thus we’d be led to believe there were 3-Marys at the foot of the cross. Question: what are the chances that there would be siblings in a Jewish home in the first century bearing the same name of Mary? Not likely. Could there be something in the structure or wording of this verse or, for that matter, could there have been some giggery pokery done in the translation? As uncomfortable as these suggestions might be, we must be seekers of truth first and not cemented to what is always staring us in the face. Bear in mind, there were agendas afoot in the centuries leading up to the final development and compilation of the canon or the books that would make up our Bible. We know from ancient copies of the Book of Matthew for instance, originally written in Hebrew, that some passages we read in our modern translations do not necessarily match certain ancient manuscripts of the same passages in questions. Thus, one must conclude that when reading and or studying scripture we should be cognizant of the translation and wary of parenthetical inserts to many biblical passages such as the passage cited in the introduction of this episode. Now before some of you get your self-righteous, “the Bible is the infallible Word of God”, panties in a bunch, I’m not saying we should throw out bibles into the trash heap. All I’m saying is that we must consider the Truth as related to how we got our bibles, especially in relation to the various religious agendas that existed in the early days of the creation of the Canon or books that make up our bibles. There are hundreds and even thousands of discrepancies that exist between extant (existing manuscripts), some of those differences are due to translational challenges while others include actual inserts and deletions of content. Thus the prudent student will always employ sound exegetical practices (including contextual application of each passage being studied) when studying the Bible along with a perpetual seeking of the Spirit to lead him or her to all truth.
But back to the issue of the 3 Marys. Let’s go over to a companion verse recording this event at the foot of the cross, found in Mark 15:40. This verse reads as follows: And there were also women beholding from afar: among whom were both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (Mar 15:40 ASV) . Ah, we seem to have a conflict here: instead of 3-Marys at the foot of the cross as recorded in John’s account, Mark’s account records the presence of just 2-Marys–(1) Mary Magdalene and (2) Mary the mother of Jame the less, Joses and Salome (likely Yeshua’s sister). Does this disagreement between the two verses mean there is a discrepancy in the gospel records related to the true identities of the Mary’s at the foot of the cross? No, not necessarily. It goes back to how the translators of both books and the way the verses record or state the information. Mark’s account seems quite basic: Mary of Magdalene and Mary, whom we’ve concluded to be the mother of Yeshua as well as the mother of James, Joses and Salome. John’s account uses a lot of commas and “ands” to report the Marys. But if we were to read closely, we could very easily scale away an extra Mary if we keep in mind that translators were not interested in putting forth any information that would show that Yeshua had a supportive family, or for that matter, a flesh and blood family apart from Mary and Joseph. So in order to make things work in accordance to their way of thinking, unsavory or simply unknowing and misinformed translators could have very easily inserted in John’s account “…and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas…” Notice that “and his mother’s sister” was not clearly delineated, thus leading the casual reader to conclude that we’re talking about Mary, the mother of Yeshua. But then again, what are the chances that 2 Marys existed in one family as sisters? It just doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t meet the criteria of what we know to be common Jewish family practices. But then when we go back over to Mark’s account, Mary the mother of Yeshua is not even tied to Yeshua as His mother, but only mentioned as being the mother of James, Joses and Salome. Could this be another attempt to hide the fact that Mary, the mother of Yeshua, had other children besides Yeshua? Or maybe translators were once again confused by the writings of Mark and thus they defaulted to translating these things according to their own limited understanding of the situation at hand and basic Jewish culture and practices of the first century. But then, if we step back and look at things within the framework of the Hebrew roots of our Faith, we can fairly presume, that the Mary of Mark’s account, who was the mother of James, Joses and Salome, was indeed Yeshua’s mother. Then if we keep in mind that Joseph is nowhere mentioned in the Gospel account beyond the early childhood years of Yeshua and the immediate family’s return to Judea from Egypt after the death of Herod, we must concede to the likelihood that Mary, the mother of Yeshua, remarried and bore children by her new husband. Beyond the couple’s return to Judea after the death of Herod the biblical record is silent about Joseph. Even when the family goes up to Jerusalem for a feast as recorded in Luke 2, Joseph is not specifically mentioned, although I’m not so dogmatic in thinking that Joseph had passed away that early in Yeshua’s earthly life. But suffice to say, it is clear that Joseph leaves the scene at some point early in Yeshua’s life–either via premature death (most likely) or divorce (unlikely, knowing the caliber of man Joseph seems to have been according to the Holy writ).
Assuming Joseph died early on in Yeshua’s and Mary’s life, we know that in Jewish culture of that day, that it was not a desirable thing for a woman, especially still in her childbearing years, to remain unmarried, especially when Levirate Laws permitted or encouraged marriage to the deceased husband’s oldest living unmarried brother to carry on the lineage of the deceased brother. This then would presume that Joseph failed to father a child through Mary, the mother of Yeshua. Thus, could this Clopas or Cleophas as cited in the Mark and Johannine passages above, be one of Joseph’s brothers and thus the new husband to Mary, the mother of Yeshua? Furthermore, certain websites tie the name Alphaeus with Cleophas or Clopas, indicating that both names are of Aramaic origin and according to biblestudy.org, the letters “phas” that end the word Cleophas could be the same as the “phaeus” part of the name Alphaeus. Both endings sound phonetically alike.
debatingchristianity.com, a moderate anti-orthodox-traditional-christian website, interestingly states, “Mary remarried and bore James the younger of 3-biological sons, to Alphaeus/Cleophas, who had sired 2-sons to a previous marriage and they were Simeon and Jude, the 2-stepbrothers of Jesus, we must now ask the question, did Joseph, Mary’s first husband and father to young Joseph the 2nd son of Mary of whom we know so little die, or was he still alive at the time of the death of Jesus, Mary’s first born son?” The author of this article paints a very interesting scenario, but then, he/she also states that the woman who was caught in the act of adultery by the mob and rescued by Yeshua from certain death at the hands of said mob, was Mary, the mother of Yeshua. I imagine that you’d agree with me that this scenario was indeed a stretch and even bordering on heretical. But then, even the most heretical of the lot can have something good to add to any biblical discussion. In this case, the author of this article gives us good material in which to draw some conclusion as to the likely make-up of Yeshua’s earthly family and the successors to the True Faith once delivered to the first century saints by Yeshua Hamaschiach/Jesus Christ.
One thing before I close this discussion. I want to comment on the parenthetical statement found in verse 5 of John 7 which reads: “(For neither did His brothers believe in Him).” From this discussion, I believe I made a sufficient case in favor of Yeshua’s family’s support of not only Him as a person and His Messiah-ship, but also His ministry. That being the case, this parenthetical statement makes no sense. In fact, this parenthetical statement seems to contradict all that I’ve presented above and support a fractured family structure to our blessed Savior. We know without much debate that James and Jude were brothers of Yeshua and were 2 of His inner circle of 12. Furthermore, we know that Mary and likely Yeshua’s sister, Salome, was at the foot of the cross during the Master’s crucifixion. Lastly, the record shows that one of the primary things that Yeshua instructed Mary of Magdalene to do as recorded in the Book of John: 17 “Stop holding onto me,” Yeshua said to her, “because I haven’t yet gone back to the Father. But go to my brothers, and tell them that I am going back to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
Now many will contend that the “…but go to my brothers…” is speaking about Yeshua’s disciples. This could be true. But knowing what we’ve just established about Yeshua’s siblings and family support of His ministry would rather suggest that Yeshua was telling Mary to go and inform His actual brothers, James and Jude, of His resurrection.
Oh, and regarding the Mark passage that seemingly records an incident whereby Yeshua’s family members attempt to seize Him from the midst of a group of followers citing that Yeshua was out if His mind? What if I were to tell you that Mark’s rendering of Yeshua being out of His mind is interpreted improperly by us in the west. Furthermore, taking this particular verse at face value without benefit of looking at the verse via the full context of the entire recorded passage would naturally lead one to a misunderstanding of that verse. As the context reveals, Yeshua had become so immersed in teaching the ever growing crowds that flocked to hear Him, He had actually begun to neglect His own well being, even to the point of not eating. Members of His family come on scene and become concerned about His well being and attempt to render care to the Master. This event actually had nothing to do with Yeshua’s family members seeing Him as a kook. Again, poor Biblical exegesis and subsequent teachings, doctrines and traditions have led many well meaning believers down a wrong path, away from Truth. This doesn’t only apply to modern teachers, but also to the myriad of scholars, translators and church fathers who have taken liberties with the Bible record. Today, we have unparalleled access to knowledge. There is no excuse for men to remain in bondage to false teachings. Yet many will, for whatever reason stick to what they’ve been taught in their Sunday houses of worship and never take the opportunity to dive deep and learn the truth for themselves, absent of denominationalism and tradition. Many hold to a mind set of “all I need is Jesus and Him crucified”, thus openly admitting that they are too lazy to learn for themselves the vast riches contained in the Word of God.
I contend that it is those of us who are constantly seeking Truth and who apply those truths to our lives and our walk with Messiah who shall triumph in the end and enter the Kingdom of God. When Yeshua taught, He taught in parables. Yeshua interpreted those parables only to those who sought after His direct interpretation. All the others-the vast majority-simply left without ever fully understanding what the Master meant by His parables. Others hung out, hoping to receive a meal, never caring about the spiritual food that Yeshua was providing. Where do we as individual Believers fall out in this equation?
Bottom line Saints: I’m not trying to perpetrate some new doctrine or teaching on the family of Jesus the Christ. My intentions here were to put forth to you information that I’ve come across and hope that you take that information and do your own studies on this issue. The bigger point here is to expose some of the lies and falsehoods that have been foisted upon Christianity for the last 2,000-years. I believe there has been a well-crafted agenda to hide from us the real Yeshua and put in His place a paganized, fictionized, watered-down version of the true Messiah. If we are not willing to face truth and kick to the curb lies, then our faith is for naught.
I hope and pray that this message has been an eye-opener for you as it was for me when I first came across this information some 3-years ago. I must say that I love having the opportunity to come before you with such important content that I trust will be a blessing to you and enhance your walk with Yeshua Messiah. Until next time, may you be most blessed fellow Saints in training. Shalom.