Although he was born in Judea, Jesus grew up in the small Galilean village of Nazareth. Many scholars believe that the Synoptic Gospels contain little evidence that Jesus ever toured Judea. Robert Lindsey disagreed. He believed that there is sufficient evidence in Matthew, Mark and Luke to support the existence of a Judean ministry, and that Judea is the setting of many of the Gospel stories.
Many of Jesus’ words were spoken against a profoundly Hebraic background. We believe that a knowledge of Hebrew is central to understanding much of what Jesus said, and what was written about him in the Gospels. This is the second of a series of articles about the Hebrew language. Hopefully, these “nuggets” will encourage you to explore the riches Hebrew study can offer to those who want to understand the Bible more fully. The second sound in Jesus’ Hebrew name, יֵשׁוּעַ (ye·SHU·a‘), is a vowel. Hebrew vowels are represented by signs that are placed under, or sometimes, to the left of consonants (letters). A vowel is pronounced after the consonant that carries its sign.
Although Christians often associate parables exclusively with Jesus, rabbinic literature reveals that this form of expression was well established as an instructional tool among Israel’s first-century teachers. The fact that Jesus used parables to teach is evidence that he was a characteristic sage functioning in a world of sages. Jesus’ efforts were directed toward bringing more and more people under God’s reign—or, in the rabbinic parlance he used, getting them into the “Kingdom of Heaven.” That was what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 9:37-38. Although he used different words, Jesus stressed the same points as the rabbinic saying in m. Avot 2:15: 1) although difficult, the work of the Kingdom of Heaven is all-important, and, 2) God is interested in the urgent completion of the work.
The commandment “Be fruitful and multiply” has always been strongly emphasized in Judaism, both today and in the first century. It is therefore surprising that Jesus, who in every other way observed the commandments, did not marry—at least the New Testament gives no indication that he had a wife or children.