What Was Jesus’ Job Growing Up? | Understanding Jesus
Jesus was brought up in a simple, rural community of peasants. The word ‘rural’ here can be misleading. Thus, Eric R. Wolf explains the meaning of the word when he says: “Rural cultivators; …. They raise crops and livestock in the countryside”. It is likely that every family had some small land to cultivate in Galilee to sustain their livelihood, which coincides with what Eusebius of Caesarea mentioned in his book on Church History (Ecclesiastical History 3.20.1–3), saying that Judas’ family, who was Jesus’ brother, had a small parcel of land to toil with their own hands. This applied to most of the people of Galilee, where each family owned a piece of land to cultivate, where the land size was dependent on the financial stratum of each family.
According to Mark 6: 3, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” and Matthew 13:55, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?”– Jesus is referred to as the son of the carpenter and what is commonly known, ecclesiastically, or church-wise, is that Jesus was a carpenter; however, what is the meaning of the word carpenter [τέκτων], which was mentioned by the Gospels? The carpenter in first-century Palestine was the one who made wooden furniture, as well as the wooden plows for plowing agricultural land or the wooden yoke placed on the shoulder of the bull.
Some researchers suggest that Joseph and Jesus were carpenters who worked to rebuild Sepphoris, a city 6 km north of Nazareth, which Herod wanted to build with a Hellenistic style.
Riesner proposes an interesting assumption that the word carpenter is evident in the Aramaic language naggārāʾ, which in some Talmudic sources means “teacher”, and that that the term “bar naggārāʾ” (or the son of a carpenter) means the son of a teacher (or a student), and that it is a term given to people who are familiar with the Scriptures. Geza Vermes supports this assumption.
In summary, the work Jesus did was demanding, both physically and psychologically, since he was responsible for sustaining his family, both financially and socially. Jesus worked in cultivating the land, in carpentry and in building prosperous cities.
Jesus came from the depth of this impoverished environment, and such a meagre socio-economic status, to be the light that illuminates amid the darkness and the injustice of the society and its authorities. He came out to raise, he emerged from poverty to enrich, he came out of ignorance to be the teacher who teaches with authority. He came out to speak with the tongue of the lowly, the poor and the brokenhearted.
In this article, we have tried to portray a clear picture of the early life of Jesus, how he spoke, how he taught, and how he worked. Jesus is a unique figure in the history of mankind and has become its central focus. Jesus’ life forever changed the course of the history of humanity. Let us behold his light so that we may be able to see the darkness of our consciences and the arrogance lying within our souls.