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When were Joseph and Mary considered married?
In Bible times, Jewish marriage customs regarding a couple’s engagement were far different and much more stringent than those we are familiar with today, especially in the West. Marriages were arranged by the parents of the bride and groom and often without even consulting the couple to be married. It was during this betrothal period that the angel Gabriel visited Mary and told her of her impending pregnancy (Matt.1:18, Lk.1:34). Joseph soon became aware of Mary’s pregnancy, and this no doubt was cause for consternation on his part (Matt.1:19). Jewish custom allowed that they be considered as husband and wife, though the marriage had not yet been consummated. Betrothals or marriage engagements in those ancient times were binding and could only be terminated by an official divorce decree. It was then that the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream (Matt.1:20-25) and explained to him that all this was bringing about the fulfillment of prophecy that a virgin would bear a child who was to be the Savior (Is.7:14), and “he (Joseph) did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” So, Joseph and Mary were actually legally married before the birth of Jesus though their marriage was not consummated physically until after His birth.