The region of Palestine in the Middle East was the scene of the most relevant historical event for Christianity, and that was undoubtedly the existence of Jesus. In the map of Palestine in the time of Jesus , not only the physical environment is detailed, but also the cultural, economic and particularly social context in which the latter tried to generate the changes that a subjugated people demanded.
Map of Palestine at the time of Jesus
The region of Palestine at the time of Jesus is a question that has been analyzed by biblical archeology and which has been linked to the investigation of the historical Jesus. The purpose of this study is to recompose the environment in which Christianity emerged and review the points of view in politics, culture and society of that time that facilitate their understanding.
In the time that Jesus existed, the Jewish population was subjugated to the Roman authority which carried out its control thanks to a procurator or ruler. The Roman rulers demanded personal and land tributes for Caesar, and contributions in kind for the support of his invading army.
The early Christian communities were part of that Jewish-Roman world, or simply pagan. What is appropriate is to understand this world to notice the novelty of Jesus, of his alternatives and commitments; the inescapably painful nature of his divinatory denunciation, the weight of his announcement: “The term is over, the kingdom of God is upon us, Reform yourselves and have faith in this good news” (Mark 1, 15).
The behavior of Jesus of Nazareth had an impact in one way or another on life in Palestine, its organizations, its various social and religious groups, and politics at that time, very close to religion. When the canonical gospels were written, at least 35 to 60 years had passed since Jesus died. The cultural environment in which the gospels were written has a conceptual and allegorical universe, and forms of expression that are very different from the current ones.
Jesus was contrary to the existing “indecencies, robberies, murders, adulteries, ambitions, perversities, frauds, perversion” (Mark 7,20-23). But at that time, those who applied heavier burdens to the people, abandoning them and throwing him into misery, impotence and despair were the religious-political hierarchs who, according to Jesus, instead of being clergymen were “hired thugs and bandits”. Jesus heard the complaints of those excluded by religion and society, for whom he leaned even at the cost of his own existence.
The New Testament differentiates the area of the Jordan (Matthew 3, 5) from the area “on the other side of the Jordan” (Matthew 4, 15; Matthew 19, 1), located on the left (eastern) bank of the river, populated by non-Israelites, non-Jews, and which is currently part of the state of Jordan. Some New Testament episodes are set on the banks of the Jordan River. The most important is the narration of the baptism of Jesus in the words of John the Baptist, clearly related by the three synoptic gospels (Matthew 3, 13-17; Mark 1, 9-11; Luke 3, 21-22) and only by the Gospel of John (John 1, 29-34).
Jesus of Nazareth came to the world and lived in the region of the Middle East that even today is called Palestine (country of the Philistines) and formed part of the Roman Empire since 64 BC Throughout history, it has been assigned different names: Judea, Canaan, Israel, the Holy Land, etc. (despite the fact that each of them refers to imprecise geographical realities and does not strictly coincide).
Its area covers about 30,000 km², with a figure like a trapezoid whose bases measure 40 km at the north end and 140 km at the south, with a height of about 250 km. Its limits are the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the Jordan River Valley to the east. It is of enormous strategic importance as it is a transit point for communications and trade.
This territory is crossed from north to south by a system of low mountains. The Jordan River runs parallel to the eastern slope, with an extension of 118 km in a straight line from its confluence with the last tributary to the Dead Sea, but with a real trajectory of 320 km since it descends in an undulating way, forming curves that make it look from above like a snake. Its passage gives rise to a fertile plain in great contrast to the rest of the territory.
Jordan means “the one that descends”, since it descends from an elevation of 520 meters above sea level (masl) at its source to one of 392 meters below sea level when it flows into the Dead Sea. It is divided into four provinces: Galilee, Samaria, Judea and Perea, which make up the map of Israel at the time of Jesus .
Map of Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Galilee
Galilee is located to the north, in its mountainous area are the cities of Naim, and Cana, between the two is located Nazareth which is located about 140 km from Jerusalem; and he is on the edge of a gorge through which his own countrymen tried to throw Jesus. Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth and Jesus was raised there, according to the Gospel of John.
The flattest part of Galilee is located around the Lake or Sea of Tiberias, also called the Sea of Galilee or Lake of Genesaret, which is 21 km long and 12 km wide and is about 210 meters below the sea. sea level.
Although fish abound in its waters, they are also dangerous due to the violent storms that rise in it. The fishermen caught good fish with their nets and others that were considered bad (they could not be eaten), since fish without scales or fins, similar to snakes like eels, and also shellfish were prohibited out of respect for Mosaic law.
Jesus frequently went to the shores of the lake since life flourishes there and the population gathers, for example: Capernaum, where Peter and Andrew come from. Through the plain of Genesaret, in which the public life of Jesus began, caravans traveled from Damascus to Caesarea on the coast, which is why there was a military cantonment in Carfanaúm. All this exposes it to us as a multicultural and multi-cultural region. -ethnic.
Mount Tabor, which is referred to throughout the Bible as a sacred peak, dominates the plain located to the southwest of the lake, and is where the transfiguration narrative is located. This mountain has an approximate height of 588 meters. The houses of the local peasants were modest and on many occasions in one room, being the predominant large estate in Galilee, since the lands usually belonged to the king, his family or the wealthy merchants.
The people of Galilee were called Galileans. Although they were Jews, they lived as on an island surrounded by pagan peoples. Being a commercial route, the traffic of caravans was constant and, therefore, a greater amalgamation of ethnic groups and cultures was generated.
The Galileans, being in contact with other peoples, had a greater openness to other cultures and ways of being, so they had a religious spirit of less observance and scrupulosity than the Jews of Judea. These, of greater meticulousness and legalism, esteemed this semi-pagan area and from remote times called it “Galilee of the pagans”. This is probably why educated people (Pharisees and scribes) looked down on Jesus and his proselytes.
The Galileans were mostly peasants and fishermen, hence most of the allegories of Jesus have fishing or agricultural life as a reference. They were famous for their rudeness and lack of culture, however faithful and sincere.
Map of Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Samaria
It is a region located between Galilee to the north and Judea to the south, and its population was not “purely” Jewish at the beginning. Starting in 721 BC (Assyrian occupation), immigrants from Assyria had settled there, perhaps together with other Israelites, in such a way that the different races and beliefs had combined to give rise to a multi-ethnic people. So for the Jews, the Samaritans were not a pure people since their blood had been contaminated with that of other foreign peoples.
Despite this, the Samaritans considered themselves the true heirs of the children of Israel, and they were the ones who preserved the archaic Hebrew script. In the third century before Christ, Rabbi Hisda (a member of the Sanhedrin) clarified that the “common peoples” to whom the archaic Hebrew writing was entrusted were, in effect, the Samaritans. They considered themselves loyal to the Law, authentic Israelites, so the Samaritan woman speaks of “our lord Jacob”.
They had their particular sanctuary on Mount Garizím (Jn 4,20). A mutual aversion had arisen between Jews and Samaritans, since in 107 BC, the Jew John Hyrcanus took possession of Siquén, the capital of Samaria, and devastated the temple of Garizím, Herod the Great repaired it in 30 BC and married a samaritan
In the year 6 AD, the Samaritans seriously outraged the temple of Jerusalem by throwing human bones into it at nightfall, precisely on the day of Passover. From then on, fierce hostility arose.
The Samaritans rejected the religious relevance of Jerusalem. The Jews considered the Samaritans as heretics and refused to have any dealings with them. When the Samaritans went to Jerusalem, the Jews did not let them pass from the place reserved for the pagans, nor did they admit expiatory or penitential sacrifices, since they considered that they did not worship God as required.
In the Gospel of John allusion is made to it in (Jn 4,9). That a Jew branded another a “Samaritan” was a serious offense, which is why Jesus is insulted by the Jewish leaders by saying: Are we not right in calling you a Samaritan and that you are possessed by the devil? In Lk. 10,37, the scribe ignores the pronunciation of the term “Samaritan”.
Map of Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Judea
It is the southernmost, elevated and dry territory, which is made up of mountains that make up a closed and abrupt massif. To the south and east are huge desert areas. Wheat is grown, although in small quantities, but there are many olives, grapes, dates, figs and legumes. Practically all the cattle that is produced is immolated in the Temple and its inhabitants are generally poor, who eat smoked and salted fish, but with little meat.
The capital, Jerusalem, is the holy city of the Jews. It is located at 750 meters above sea level and the Mount of Olives at 818 meters above sea level. This locality has a bad situation for traffic and commerce. The importance of this city is of a religious nature: there is the Jewish temple, unique in the world, an obligatory pilgrimage site, a center of religious instruction and the seat of the supreme authority. Everything in Judea revolves around Jerusalem and its Temple.
In Judea there are several important towns in the existence of Jesus: Betania, which is a modest town on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, just three kilometers from Jerusalem. Bethlehem, a town about 8 km from Jerusalem, called “City of David” since King David obtained his anointing there. According to the prophecies and the gospels, it was the place where Jesus, the Messiah, was born.
Emmaus, a village located about 12 km from Jerusalem. Jericho, located in an oasis of great fertility at about 250 meters below sea level. It joins with Jerusalem, through the desert of Judah, by a rugged and risky route, favorable for banditry.
Map of Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Historical Context
By 40 BC, this territory was threatened by the Parthian people of Mesopotamia. To remedy the situation, the Romans entrusted the government to a client king named Herod, who ruled until 4 BC.
By 29 BC, in the small regions conquered by the Roman armies, Emperor Augustus appointed a Prefect or governor as his deputy to govern everything. From the years 6 to 41 the Prefect of Judea was appointed as Procurator.
The Roman Procurator of Judea has the highest military power, although he is dependent on the Roman Legate of Syria. He is also the financial agent of the Roman emperor, he collects all the taxes that the Jews have to pay to the Roman imperial treasury. Under his command are the tax collectors, protected by his soldiers.Common justice is exercised by the Sanhedrin, but the Roman Prosecutor has reserved the execution of the death penalty.
He is domiciled in Caesarea, but on festivities he attends Jerusalem and resides in the military fortress called Torre Antonia, erected in the northeast corner of the Temple, in which the Roman guard (a cohort) of Jerusalem usually resides. It was an essential place from which it was easy to keep an eye on the crowd that attended the Temple.
From the years 6 to 41 the Roman Procurator appointed the High Priest eight times. Pilate was Roman Prosecutor from 26 to 35. Agrippa I, reviews Pilate as severe, of an arbitrary and inhuman nature, and blames him for corruption, robberies, rapes, threats, promoting executions without trial, savage and constant brutality.
An insensitive and hostile attorney to the Jews, with little understanding of their religious traditions, he generated non-violent opposition by tricking pavilions with the image of the emperor into Jerusalem, the holy city of the Jews. He demanded that the Jews contribute money from the Temple treasury to build an aqueduct to solve the water problems in Jerusalem.
The Jews rose again, but Pilate, with the support of his soldiers, camouflaged and intermingled with the crowd, was able to curb the riot, beating and killing many, and thus complete the work. Luke 13,1 seems to mention this fact pointing out that Pilate had combined the blood of some Galileans with the victims they offered.
In the year 35 AD he murdered some Samaritans gathered on Mount Garizín, so due to the complaints of Jews and Samaritans, the Legate of Syria, Vitellius, sent him to Rome in the year 36 to render accounts of his outrages before the emperor. He probably died in the year 37 by suicide.
The soldiers of the Roman guards in Palestine were not Romans, obviously not Jews. They were from Syria and Greece who lived in Palestine and who despised the Jews. The last three independent Jewish rulers, the Hasmonean kings, subjugated and harassed the Syrian and Greek towns near their borders.
King Alexander Jannaeus, who was also High Priest, ruled Judea from 103 to 76 BC, entering during his reign into intense conflict with the Pharisees. The population continued the directives of the Pharisees and detested the king. When the Pharisees allied themselves with the Syrians, enemies of the king, he took bloody revenge on the Syrians.
Josephus refers to the following account of one of those abusive revenges: Held a banquet in an invisible place together with his concubines, he had about eight hundred of them crucified, beheaded their children and their wives before their eyes, even while they were with him. life. With this, he avenged himself for the insults received, a punishment that was higher than what a man can bear.
Since then those cities and their inhabitants have feared a powerful Jewish kingdom. And the Jews always hoped to return to the good old days of freedom, fortune and notoriety, as in the time of King David.
For this reason, the Syrian and Greek soldiers of Pilate despise those who aspired to be kings or messiahs. “Do you call yourself sovereign of the Jews?” asked Pilate. And the soldiers listen as the procurator responds to those who request the customary pardon “Do you wish me to release the king of the Jews?” (Mk.15,1-2.9). That is why they are irritated with Jesus, after being sentenced and flogged, they scoffed at him saying “Hail, sovereign of the Jews!”.
According to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, residents of Caesarea and Sebaste, converted into soldiers of the cohorts, openly expressed their contempt for the Jewish monarchs once King Agrippa I died. In fact, in the year 44 they publicly commemorated his death in Caesarea of Agrippa and led to a brothel the images of the king’s daughters.
Map of Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Religion
Of such relevance was the religious component in the Palestinian theocratic society at the time of Jesus, that rather than classifying the groups according to their social and/or economic class, they were organized according to their position within the religious establishment.
The Sadducees, whose name comes from Zadok, supreme priest of the time of Solomon that existed in the second century BC, were a group of leading clerical families which were made up of the most important families of the powerful city merchants and landowners. wealthiest in the field.
The hierarchs of that priestly and lay aristocracy (the elders) constituted part of the Sanhedrin. It was, then, an aristocratic clique that brought together the rich and powerful.
They formed a “separate class”, they were few in number and had a robust organization. His influence on politics and the judicial system was of great importance between the Hasmonean period and the Jewish war. Counted as part of the “lay” Sadducees are the Roman tribute tenants, procurators and collectors. The Romans granted them exclusivity for the collection of taxes.
In religious matters they only accepted the “Torah” or Law of Moses, which was made up particularly of the first five books of the Bible or Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. They strictly adhere to the letter of what they indicate Those books are therefore ultraconservative and therefore do not accept any further development of that doctrine.
According to the Sadducees, the priests are the only ones who can interpret the Law; they don’t want the lay Pharisees to do it, and they doubt the prophets. They advocated Sabbath obedience. Observing that in the Torah there is no reference to the resurrection of the dead or to a later life, they do not accept it, regarding it as a novel idea.
According to them, everything ends with death and they affirm that there is no more redemption than the earthly one. In politics, they favored National Judaism and were staunch supporters of the Temple State, and tried to have good relations with the Romans.
They are accused of not being practitioners of what they professed: in contrast to their conservative religious position, they exhibited a libertine relaxation of customs:
- ostentation and pagan amusements imitating the example of the Romans (masters of the world)
- divorce was usual between them
- marriage between members of the same family was customary to preserve wealth and power
- polygamy that, in fact, could only be accessed by the rich given how expensive it was.
Caiaphas, the High Priest (18-37 AD) was a Sadducee (Jn. 11,49; 18,13-14). The hierarchy of priests was usually Sadducees. The Acts of the Apostles call the Sadducees the proselytes of the High Priest (Acts 5,17) and in Matthew (Mt. 16,12) there is a passage in which Jesus advises those who listen to him to beware of the provocations of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
They are hedonists, they are only interested in accumulating wealth and enjoying it in their earthly existence (Lk 12:15-21).
Israel, at the time Jesus existed, was a genuine Theocracy, and in a theocracy it is the clerics who, in the first place, make up the least powerful group.
It was the priests who organized the Jews after the exile from Babylon (538 BC) and had advised them on spiritual and material issues, and even in the time of Jesus they continued to control political and social power.
The priesthood was not reached by divine inclination, but was inherited, according to the Law, only the descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses, could reach the priesthood (Ex. 28,1; Nm. 17,16-26; Lc 1.5; Hebrews 9.4). Thus, they formed a closed and strongly united circle. Upon reaching 20 years of age, the cleric’s son is taken to the temple in which he has to prove how legitimate his birth is.
After verifying the absence of physical defects, he was ordained by means of a purification bath, he was dressed in sacred robes and sacrifices were offered, all throughout a week, thus remaining with the power to offer sacrifices (Heb. 10,11), perform rituals (Mt. 8,4; Lk. 17,14), for the service to the sanctuary (Lk. 1,5.8). The priests were not responsible for the teaching of the Law, this was inherent to the scribes (Mt. 7,29).
They were organized in 24 groups, and each group was in charge of the temple service for a week, each turn being drawn by lot (Lk 1:5-9). Due to the amount of worship existing in the temple, some 300 priests were required to serve it, aided by 400 Levites. The latter were heirs to the tribe of Levi (Dt 33,8-11; Lk 10,32), and formed a kind of “lower clergy”, responsible for supplementary services of the cult and also for the police services of the temple.
The most important priests who came to form an aristocracy were: The Supreme Priest, hierarch of all the Jews of Palestine and abroad, chief in charge of the temple, administrator and president, by trade, the Sanhedrin or Great Council. Only he could enter the most secret, sacred and important part of the Temple: the “Sancta Santorum”: three times, one day a year, the “Day of Atonement” (Yom Kippur. or day of penance established by God).
From the year 37 BC, Herod in the first instance and then the Roman procurators or regents had the right to appoint and depose the Supreme Priests, from which such position was not hereditary or for life.
They also sanctify the Supreme Priest through the delivery of the priestly ornamentation (eight pieces that are considered sacred). Herod and the Romans keep such sacred vestments (from 6 to 37 AD in the Antonia Tower), and provide them to the priests only on feast days.
Annas’s participation in the trial of Jesus demonstrates how they maintained their influence and reputation after leaving office as High Priest. Other priests of importance were the Commander of the Temple, in charge of order, the three Treasurer Priests, in charge of finances and the Vigilant Priests, who guarded the keys of the temple and were responsible for vigilance and order under the command of the Temple Commander.
They were also called “Senators of the people” and we find them frequently in the New Testament, always associated with the Supreme Priests (Mt. 21,23; 26,3.47), usually united under a single expression “the supreme priests and the elders” (Luke 22,52).
The term elder does not refer to people of advanced age, to old people of Jerusalem, strictly speaking the “elders” are the group of the Sanhedrin different from the priest-hierarchs and the Pharisee scribes. It is made up of the most powerful and influential families in Jerusalem.
At a certain moment Lucas calls them “the distinguished people” (19,47), they are the secular aristocracy, the opulent, this because of the money since they were the owners of enormous estates and the wealthiest merchants.
These elders are linked to the source of the greatest production of wealth, which is the Temple of Jerusalem, and to those who direct it, the hierarchical priests. They are also allies of the Roman power that has been able to captivate them by leasing the collection of taxes, thus the Romans control, through them, the Sanhedrin. The prosperity of the elders is a guarantee that the tax of the Jews will be incorporated into the treasury of the Roman Empire.
For these “elders”, in charge of the tax collection system, the well-managed amounts collected are an efficient source of complementary income, since they transfer the taxes they demand to the Romans, but they collect them in excess from the people through of the “publicans.”
They have a great interest in maintaining the established order, since it is based on the preservation and improvement of their status, money and influence. If the Romans came to suspect that they were somehow opposed to their power, they would lose their privileges, risk being deported and then have all their property confiscated.
They are observant of religious affairs and strictly abide by the letter of Scripture, and have as superiors the “men of religion”, the hierarchs of the priests, the priestly aristocracy. They are also very loyal to external religious discipline.
They cannot access the priesthood, not even by buying it. Like all those who idolize money, the “deity of death”, to protect their “order”, an abusive order, but one that is favorable to them, they go as far as blood (Mt. 26,3-5.59; 27,1-2; Mark 14,43). All the elders did not have the same thought and proceed, among these notables is Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy landowner (Mt. 27,57; Mk. 15,43; Lc. 23,50-51; Jn. 19,38 -42).
The Pharisees constituted a religious group whose primary characteristic was the rigorous observance of the Law. They came from the Hasidic movement (2nd century), and despite the fact that they had priests, they considered themselves essentially a lay movement. The Hasidic movement was divided into two branches: the Pharisees and the Essenes.
The denomination pharisee is the same Greek term of perusim that means “the saints”, the separated ones, the genuine community of Israel. They were religious and compassionate people. In the New Testament the Pharisees are shown as hypocrites, but it does not agree with what is known about them.
The Pharisees are very obsessed with obeying all religious laws and customs, as well as with others following them. For them, the most important thing in their connection with God is the religious Law, it is the authentic treasure of Israel, of greater importance than the Temple.
They consider themselves the “people of the Law”, being made up of artisans, modest merchants, peasants, but, despite coming from the people, they want to be away from it; apparently they are too ignorant of the Law and, particularly, impure, that they do not obey it; “cursed” (Jn 7:45-49).
They are attached to legalism, since they themselves had added numerous laws and traditions to the Law. They enunciated 613 supplementary laws (248 orders and 365 prohibitions), difficult to understand and more than anything cumbersome to comply with. They minutely regulated life, particularly Sabbath obedience and the purity required for worship. They called these norms “oral tradition” (created by them), and for them this tradition had as much or more relevance than the written Law.
The Pharisees awaited divine mediation, the arrival of the Messiah who would free the people from Roman submission. They got ready for that “Day” by prayer, by fasting, and particularly by loyal obedience to all laws, most of all the Sabbath.
They were attached to rituals, they were very concerned about what was obligatory to be close to purity to God, to prayer, to the sanctuary, to the ceremonies of worship. The abundance of rules tended to transform the exercise of piety into a technical or regulatory issue.
They were guided by an entire book for it, Leviticus, particularly in chapters 11 to 16, which describes the rules of purity. The meaning of impure for them is corruption, and contact with the impure made relations with God impossible.
Some degree of impurity had:
- blood and everything that touches it since it is, according to them, life.
- all sexual fluid (eg menstruation).
- objects such as dirty cups, plates and pots, since they had to be carefully cleaned on several occasions (Lk 11:39).
- Some animals that the Law prohibited eating (Mt. 15,10).
- any animal or human corpse; not only the one who touched them, even out of necessity, but also the one who stepped on a tomb, even without noticing it, remained “unclean” before God (Lk 11:24).
- people afflicted by some repulsive disease, particularly of the skin, such as leprosy, could not be touched, since the simple contact with them made it impossible for them to approach the Holy God (Mt. 8,2-4).
- the Jews who performed certain trades or tasks that were considered impure; publicans or collectors, prostitutes, shepherds, doctors. Sitting with them at table or staying in their houses “infected you” (Mt. 9,9-13; Lk. 19,1-7).
- just by entering the dwellings of pagans, who were not Jews, he polluted (Jn. 18,28).
They were obsessive about ceremonial washing, particularly of hands “impure” from having touched something “impure.” Up to seven times a day, the compassionate Pharisee did his personal washing with water and with prayer. Likewise, water was part of this game, since it became a problem to know what type was needed to wash each thing and for purification baths, they differentiated up to six types of water for these purposes.
These Pharisees believe that by obeying the Law and tradition they obtain the merits required for redemption, and that God has to “pay back” that loyalty, that reward is due them (Lk 17:7-10).
They carried out all kinds of works, beyond what was ordered by the Law, in order to have more value before God; fasting (Mt. 9,14; Lc. 18,12), prayers (Mt. 6,5), payment of tithes (Mt. 23,23). They meticulously obeyed the rigorous rules about ritual purity that in themselves were required only for priests, and the rules about food (Mt. 15,1-20; 23,25.27; Mc. 7,1-23; Lk 11,39).
The scribes, whose meaning in Hebrew is sofrim, are considered the “versed in the Law”, those who study, understand, describe and interpret the Mosaic Law. They are simultaneously theologians, teachers, judges, they instruct what should be do to obey the Law, clear up any doubts that may arise about observance. They also practice justice, according to the Law.
Initially, the scribes formed a lay group but, due to their openness to new interpretations, a large number of them were equally Pharisees or Sadducees. As time passed, however, the Pharisaic scribes prevailed.
The scribes or “graduates of the Law” are the Jewish intellectual nobility, the scribe or “rabbi” reaches power not through money like the elders or senators, nor through blood or lineage like the priests, but by his knowledge, and they are sensible about it. The Pharisees-scribes arrived at the Sanhedrin and each time their power increased after the death of Herod the Great, year 4 BC
Their education was obtained in schools, and the most relevant and famous is that of Jerusalem. After an ordinary cycle of studies of several years, the scribe had a solid understanding of the entire Old Testament, he fully understood all the ins and outs of the Law.
He was authorized to personally decide all matters relating to religious laws and rites, he was appointed judge in criminal trials and he also ruled in civil proceedings. He had the right to be called “rabbi.” Upon reaching 40 years of age he was a scribe with all the faculties as a “Graduate Doctor”.
Their knowledge allowed them to access the most important positions in education, public administration and justice. And, particularly the scribes who, being Pharisees, had great power since they created and passed on the religious “traditions” that were at the same level or above the Torah itself or written Law.
They had the power to bind (compromise) and unbind (free from commitment) eternally, the Jews of the whole world, in accordance with what was ordered by the Law, Under their power were the key positions of the judiciary, of public management and of teaching. Generalizing, the judges of all the most important cities in the country were scribes.
In the synagogues, in addition to being in charge, describing and interpreting the Scripture with authority, they are the magistrates and supervisors of the events of daily life; they hold power in the judiciary, in the executive and can even sanction punishments of flogging and apply deportation.
They presided over and governed the Superior School of Jerusalem, the Pharisaic faction of the Sanhedrin was made up entirely of scribes (in the New Testament, the Pharisaic faction of the Sanhedrin is interchangeably called «The Pharisees» Mt. 21,45 or the «scribes » Lk 20,19). In the latter, its power increased, among other reasons, because the Sanhedrin was the only Court of Justice or Supreme Court for all Jews (Mt. 26,57-66; Acts 5,34-40).
The understanding of the Old Testament (the exegesis of Scripture) was conclusive in judicial rulings, and that understanding was exclusive to the “scribes-Pharisees” of the Sanhedrin:
- the texts of the Old Testament were written in the «sacred language», Hebrew, and this language was only known by the scribes, Aramaic was the language of the people, still in the first century, the hierarchs of the scribes fought so that the Old Testament was not disseminated in Aramaic.
- Only they understood the “oral tradition” that was only passed down by word of mouth from mentor to disciple.
- They were masters of the “esoteric” tradition, in other words of the most hidden enigmas about disciplines, laws, religious magic formulas.
All this brought them great renown not only within the most exclusive circles of society but also generated great reputation among the people.
The Jerusalem Temple
Israel was formed as a theocratic State, where the most important thing was religion, whose officials had the supreme authority in most cases. The very political power of the Jewish regime was subject to religious power, to the priesthood, particularly the Supreme Priest.
This exercised power in the name of God, administering the laws of the Torah and those of a traditional nature in the Israelite religion. Religious power was fused with political power in the remote Israelite theocracy. The Temple of Jerusalem, held as a symbol of the divine presence among men, operated as the spiritual center of ancient Israel.
It was built in the most visible part of the city, standing out with a tower 50 meters high in the middle of an esplanade 480 meters long and 300 meters wide, surrounded by a high wall. It was the sanctuary that Herod the Great began to build anew.
Predominating over the rest of the city and covered with thick plates of gold and marble of great whiteness, which shone brilliantly in the sun, it aroused the fascination of the people: “Master, look at what stones and what construction!” (Mk. 13,1). Nine immense gates gave entrance to the temple, eight of them completely covered in gold and silver, as well as their mounts and lintels, and the ninth gate, in Corinthian bronze, surpassed in value the others in gold and silver.
Gates covered in gold and silver, candlesticks, cups, chains and sacred tools, also made of gold and silver, swarmed. So immense must have been the profusion of gold found in the temple that, after the occupation of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70, the supply of gold was so enormous that it resulted in its price being cut in half.
Expanding, fixing up and decorating the Temple took about 84 years (from 20 BC to 63 AD). The Gospel of John points it out by putting it in the mouth of the Jewish leaders, around the year 27. In all the time that the erection of the Temple took, the cult was not interrupted at any time. As the site of God’s presence, the temple was the core of religious power. It was the only sanctuary that the Jews had worldwide to worship God.
The cult was celebrated daily, in the morning and in the afternoon, and added to it an extra cult in the important annual religious festivities, particularly three: Pesach (Jewish Passover), Shavuot (Feast of First Fruits) and Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacles), to which every male Israelite, from the age of thirteen, had to attend (it is true that those who lived far away attended only for Passover).
The Temple of Jerusalem, operated as the primary educational center: there the religious, theological and judicial science of Judaism was taught. Jesus attended the Temple, as well as different synagogues, to transmit his teachings. The appearance of Jesus generated in controversial occasions with the Jewish leaders, since it was there that Jesus also made his considerable denunciations known.
Some Groups of the Society
In addition to the religious groups mentioned above, which in themselves are already social classes due to their power and influence, there are other less relevant classes that are also part of the social establishment of Palestine at the time of Jesus.
Map of Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Publicans
These were customs officers or tax collectors. At that time they were not employees of the State, but merchants who obtained from the State, on lease, the right to collect taxes. For this they paid a certain sum of money to the public treasury, and kept everything they could receive above that sum.
Among them, two types were differentiated: The first were those in charge of the tax collection system: They were wealthy people, usually hierarchs of the families of the high society of Jerusalem, some of them members of the Sanhedrin (elders or senators of the town) .
The Jews had to pay the Romans direct and indirect tributes. These large customs tenants were in charge of paying these taxes, then these amounts were repaid to a greater extent, being protected in said collection by the Romans.
Numerous customs posts were leased, with each customs post defined a rental rate that was mandatory to deliver. The income that exceeded that rate was kept by the tenant as a personal benefit, leading to exploitation and fraud.
The second were the local collectors who were called publicans. A large part of those who carried out this work were poor or slaves who were served by a collection agency of some large tenant. Those were fired at the slightest inconvenience.
Palestine suffered from an extremely oppressive tribute system, since customs duties and tolls had to be paid to access towns, bridges, passes, crossroads. Harassment by publicans was very infuriating and also very costly, since the collectors had to demand more than the official rate if they tried to make a living. Levi is one of those collectors or “publican”.
It is also noteworthy that the people were totally unaware of the Roman tax law, and they did not dare to claim either, since the collectors had support. From the point of view of every priest and Pharisee, the publican was a penitent, since his office was considered “corrupt” or “impure” by the scribes or doctors of the law.
For the Jews, the only legal tribute is the one collected by the Temple, so these publicans who collected for the Romans were equally despised by the group. Generally the publicans were humble people, they were part of a social class so unfortunate that they were forced to accept this “dishonest” work to survive.
The publicans were never invited to eat, they did not enjoy normal treatment, they did not have civil rights: they could not aspire to be judges, or witnesses in a trial, much less be part of a community of Pharisees. They were, therefore, people considered as sinners, marginalized, poorly paid and usually mistreated.
The Behavior of Jesus with the Publicans
The Gospels speak directly of these “publicans”, collectors and regularly associate “publicans and penitents”. John the Baptist demands from the collectors, as a sign of penance, the precise collection of the fixed tribute: Some collectors also came to be baptized, who questioned him: Master, what should we do? He answered them: Do not ask for more than what is established Lc. 3.13.
The behavior of Jesus and his proselytes was simply provocative, they went against all norms of social and religious conduct. There are numerous examples of such a situation; when he summoned the publican Levi to be his close follower, being frequently in the company of publicans and penitents and eating with them, Levi gave him a great banquet in his house, and a large number of collectors were arranged at table with them and other people (Lk. 5,29).
To compassionate Jews it was a scandal that Jesus and his supporters ate with them at the same table. Confronting the Pharisees by pointing out that by going to meet a penitent he demonstrates greater loyalty to the Holy God than not seeking seclusion to boast of his own perfection.
“The Pharisees and the enlightened ones on their side” (the Pharisees who were scribes) “criticized exclaiming to the disciples: Is it possible to know why they eat and drink with collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them: “Those who were healthy did not need a doctor, but those who suffered. I have not come to invite the righteous, but penitents, to repent” (Lk 5:30-32).
This way of proceeding of Jesus, earned him a kind of nickname, rather a malicious accusation: “What a glutton and drunk, friendship of collectors and penitents!” (Mt. 11,19). Further still, and in a surprising and provocative way, he points out that he prefers publicans to the high priests and senators of the people: «The collectors and the prostitutes will go, instead of you, to the kingdom of God» (Mt. 21 ,23-32).
Map of Palestine in the Time of Jesus: The Zealots
These were fervent men, “full of zeal”, eager to obey the Law, particularly its first order: for them “only God rules in Israel”, and for this they were willing to give up their own lives. As a doctrine or party there is no certain reference to them until the year 44 AD And all the texts of the New Testament are of a later date.
Its activity actually took place at the time of the first Christian communities. The Zealots with their uprising in the year 66 caused the Roman oppression and the decline of Jerusalem. Certain authors consider the Galileans to be Zealots who, with the opportunity of the census of Quirino, in the year 6 AD, rose up under the command of Judas the Galilean.
The Zealots were militant Pharisees, representing the most radical wing of the Pharisees. They were of rigorous observance of the written Law and of the most inflexible oral tradition, they were intransigent in their yearning for the establishment of the kingdom of God in Israel. They were considered the most extreme nationalist Jews: Orthodox and promoters of fundamentalism.
Their intolerance merged politics and religion, and manifested itself with acts of terrorism channeled against the Romans and against the Jews who they considered to be of little religiosity or collaborators. Zealot or passionate is the nickname of the apostle Simon.
Likewise, they considered themselves an “instrument” of God’s retaliation, with regard to worship and the priesthood. They sought to cleanse the Temple of corruption and injustice, they tried to purify the nation contaminated specifically by the Roman invasion, invoking violence. They rejected subordination to all earthly power, they only obeyed God and his Law.
The Romans proclaimed the legal principle that, with the occupation of a country, its territories became the possession of the (Roman) State, and at the same time it was granted in usufruct to the locals, demanding, in return, the payment of taxes. It was precisely the incorporation of the tribute to Caesar that caused the revolt of Judas the Galilean, in the year 6 AD, when the Romans deported Archelaus, son of Herod I the Great, and turned Judea into a Roman province.
For the Zealots, to cancel the tribute to the Romans was to commit the sin of idolatry. Since for them, the arrival of the Kingdom could only be achieved with violent subversive action, they resorted to robbery particularly from the rich, to the kidnapping of important figures, and if necessary they committed murder. The initial victim of the zealot sicarios (so named because of the modest dagger or “sica” they used) was the High Priest Jonatám, son of Hannas.
In the 1930s, the Zealots were not a structured group, just anonymous groups, with precise social leanings, religiously inspired, anxious to liberate Israel from Roman occupation. The Romans called them “thieves” and esteemed them as simple criminals, hidden in the mountains, who exploited circumstances, particularly festivals, for their misdeeds.
Map of Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Classes
From a socio-economic perspective, at the time of Jesus, opposite social layers existed in Palestine: the rich and the poor. The wealthy were few in number, but very influential, conservative religiously and politically alike, they were usually part of the group of Sadducees.
In this group we can get Herod II Antipas, who before the death of his father Herod I the Great, 4 years BC, had obtained a part of his domains: Galilee, province of the North, with its capital in Tiberias and the Transjordan to the East. This was a subject of the Roman emperor, who never gave him the title of king. In AD 39 he was deposed and deported by Emperor Tiberius.
The affections of Herod Antipas, who were few in number, were called Herodians, they always declared themselves enemies of Jesus. The abundance of taxes that Herod imposed, caused the sale of land and the agglomeration of landowners in a few hands: members of the royal family, cooperators who were paid in this way, wealthy people who invested their assets acquiring huge estates.
This accumulation of farms in Galilee promoted unemployment and emigration, since some went to beg in Jerusalem, and on the other hand, even the Zealot movement that refused to pay non-religious taxes. Most of these landowners lived outside their lands and transferred the administration to employees. The day laborers, people without fixed jobs, worked for those haciendas.
Herod Antipas’s father had begun the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and generously continued it (year 19 BC). Herod received about ten million denarii each year (1 denarius was the reasonable daily wage). He owned a large number of mansions; to seize and seize the goods that he coveted he did not stop even before the murder.
This Herod is the same one who ordered John the Baptist to be beheaded in prison. Jesus showed that he was not afraid of him, repudiated all dealings with him and warned his disciples about the evil that was hidden in him.
The family hierarch priests were members of the nobility of Jerusalem, they were from 15 to 17 families, people who became rich with the enormous income and power generated by a religiosity and cult created around the Temple. They were the main administrators of the treasury, and this management implied usufruct control, since they took advantage of all their income.
The relatives of the high priests were among the wealthiest in the country. The most important merchants and landowners were regularly Sadducees like the chief priests, some of them were elders, members of the Sanhedrin.
The largest percentage of the population were humble people: Jesus went through all the towns and villages, leaving teachings in the synagogues, spreading the good news of the kingdom and healing all illness and disease. Seeing the crowd, he felt sorry for them because they were exhausted and listless like sheep without a shepherd (Mt. 9:35-36). Among them were: The day laborers, salaried workers who obtained sustenance based on their work, they were paid per day worked and the payment was daily, they worked from dawn to dusk for a denarius and food.
The scribes did not have a profession nor did they carry out trade, since the teaching of the Law should be free, these scribes were usually poor and subsisted on the contributions granted by their admirers and supporters, on the spontaneous shelter they were offered, on the invitations to take part in the banquets that were celebrated in other houses.
There were poor Pharisees, but with a rich mind: “friends of money” the gospel calls them, and parasitic scribes who took advantage of the shelter of people with small economies: who devour the goods of the city with the excuse of prolonged prayers (Mk 12,40).
The slaves, for the most part found in Herod’s palace, were a kind of unfree domestic servants. Jews could only be enslaved for six years, and if the owner was not Jewish, the slave had to be repossessed by his relatives. Slave labor was not regarded as dishonorable, even the day laborer led a much more insecure existence than the slave.
The Temple did not have slaves, in the fields they almost did not exist and in the city they were scarce. The beggars were those who did not work and could not work: A large crowd approached him bringing him maimed, blind, disabled, deaf and dumb and another large number of sick people (Mt. 15,29). Jerusalem was already at the time of Jesus a begging nucleus.
The beggars gathered around the Temple, at the outer gates of the plain, in the portico of the pagans and subsisted on the alms of compassionate people. The gift was one of the three basic practices of Jewish mercy, along with prayer and fasting.
»Am ha’ aretz= people of the land». They were peasants, esteemed by the priests as ignorant of the law and incapable of fulfilling it, particularly the law of the Sabbath, ceremonial purity, and the payment of tribute. The middle class hardly counted and existed only in Jerusalem, being part of it modest merchants, craftsmen who owned their workshops, and the owners of the Jerusalem lodgings.
Jesus Confronts the Rich
Jesus revealed the alienating power that is hidden in riches. For Jesus, material things are useful, necessary and we must enjoy them as a gift from God, that is why he censures the rich so severely and criticizes those who accumulate and hold more than they need to live. The gospels give us evidence of the calls for attention that he makes to everyone:
- You must not serve God and money (Mt. 6,24)
- Do not accumulate riches on earth… Because where your treasure is, there your heart will also be (Mt. 6,19-21).
- Stay away from all greed, that even though one has plenty, life does not depend on possessions (Lk 12,15-21).
- But woe to you who have wealth, because you already have consolation! (Lk 6,24).
- The reason for all evil is the attachment to money (1Tim 6,10).
- He who accumulates capital for himself is not rich for God, but imprudent, foolish: he has squandered his life (Lk 12:31-34).
- How difficult it will be for those who have money to enter the Kingdom of God! (Mk 10,17-27).
- But the worries of this life, the attraction of riches and the ambition for everything else conquer them, suffocate the message and they become infertile (Mk 4,19).
- In contrast, make him reign and that will come to you as well. Calm down, modest flock, for it is the resolution of his Father to reign in effect over you. Sell his possessions and bestow him in alms; make bags that are not damaged, an endless treasure in heaven, which is not approached by thieves nor harmed by moths. Since where they keep their wealth they will keep their hearts (Lk 10,17-27).
- You lack one thing: go sell what you have and give it to the humble, that God will be your fortune; and, go follow after me. At my words, the other frowned and left sad, because he had many goods (Mk 10, 21-22).
- In life, the good things happened to you and the bad things happened to Lázaro; that is why now he gets relief and you suffer (Lk 16,19-31).
- Make friends by setting aside unjust money: this way, when this is over, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings (Lk 16:9-11).
- How well they put aside the mandate of God to cultivate their tradition! (Mk 7,8-13).
- They pay the tithe of mint, rue and all vegetables, and neglect justice and the love of God (Lk 11,41-42).
- This is «To clean the outside of the cup and the dish, while inside they are full of theft and wickedness» (Lk 11,39).
Map of Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Patriarchal Society
The current state of Palestine is patriarchal, where the Jewish family is considerable, broad. Polygamy is still allowed, even though it is only available to those with abundant financial means. And in the family house live the main wife and the secondary ones, the sons and daughters of all, together with the male and female servants, male and female slaves.
The family is usually called “the father’s house,” and the father rules over it as absolute lord. He is the owner in charge of the family’s possessions. The male children are his successors. The daughters make their heritage grow with the price that they intend to pay the father when buying them.
Only he who has the right to establish, give orders, sanction, give prayers, particularly the blessing of the table, offer sacrifices. Likewise, he is the mentor of his children. As a parent, the woman was obeyed and revered, since children are a gift and blessing from God. For her children, in particular and especially for the men, she blesses the woman, since women were not considered equal to men. So they had fewer rights.
Woman Different from Man
The Jewish woman of Palestine, at the time of Jesus, was considered inferior to the man because she had fewer advantages than him. There was a statement, like a formula, that was frequently reiterated; “Women, (pagan) slaves and infants.”
Just like the non-Jewish slave and the minor child (13 years old), the woman was totally dedicated to her owner: to the parent if she was single, to the husband, if she was married; to the brother-in-law of being a widow without a child (Dt. 25,5-10). If she was a single woman, she was under the protection of her father when she was twelve years old and she was considered a minor: only he had the power to marry her.
But since the father had the authority to marry the daughter before she reached the age of majority, he could allow it only at the age when the daughter could give her express approval and decide who she wants as a spouse. At that time, the husband is the owner of the woman, and she cannot decide what to do with the income from her work, nor with what is obtained.
The poverty of women is exposed in the story of the humble widow who “has thrown all she had to live on” into the Temple treasury. And “all she had to live on” was just “a few cents” (Mk 12:41-44).
The Jewish religion was a doctrine of men. In both the temple and the synagogue men and women were strictly separated, with women usually in lower, secondary places. Synagogue worship was only commemorated if at least ten men were present, women were not counted, regardless of the number present.
Women were exempted from the pilgrimage to Jerusalem on the great festivals of the year, which forced men, and from other religious activities. They were not even able, in the patriarchal society, to say thanksgiving at the table, at mealtime. But they were forced to obey all the restrictions of religious law, as well as being equally subject to all discipline of civil and penal legislation, including the death penalty (Jn. 8:1-5).
The perception of male religious supremacy was widespread at the time of Jesus and the early Christian communities, not only among Jews, but also among Greeks and Romans. For example, the Greek man thanked the deities for the fortune of being born human and not animal, Greek and not barbarian, free and not enslaved, male and not female.
Among the Jews a saying is shared: “Blessed is he whose offspring are male, and alas! of him whose offspring are females.” In the prayer that the Jews of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD prayed in the synagogue, on three occasions the Jewish man gives thanks to God for the fact that he was not made a pagan, a slave or a woman, emphasizing his religious prebend.
Blessed be the Lord that I was not born a heathen: for all nations are as nothing before him. (Is 40,17). Blessed be the Lord that I was not born a woman: since the woman is not forced to obey the commandments. Blessed be the Lord who has not made me ignorant: for the ignorant are not ashamed to sin. In the language in which the Old Testament was written, the Hebrew, the terms compassionate (hasid), just (saddiq), and holy (qados) have no feminine equivalent.
The woman was not worthy of religious education, it was conjectured that she was incapable of understanding it. The schools were only for boys, the teachers (scribes) did not have “students”. Added to this, the woman could not be a witness in a trial, not even as an accusatory witness. Based on Gn 18, 11-15, it was estimated that her testimony was worthless due to her tendency to lie.
Particularly in the towns and in the wealthiest families, the woman stays at home, in the gynoecium (the area destined for women), and can hardly be exhibited in public with her face covered, covered with two veils tied around her head to that the features of his face cannot be differentiated.
The unmarried young women were the ones who bore the brunt, according to what the Ecclesiasticus points out: «A daughter is an illusory fortune for her father, she steals his sleep because of worry… That her bedroom has no windows… That she does not exhibit her beauty before any man» Eclo 42,9-12).
Education regulations proscribed:
- meeting alone with a woman, particularly if she was married
- observe a married woman and even greet her
- talk to a woman on the street
A woman was not to be alone in the country, and it was not acceptable for a man to talk to a stranger. (Jn 4,27). The wife or her daughters were obliged to wash the father’s face, hands and feet. But the male Jew must not demand this of another male, not even of a Jewish slave; solely from a non-Jewish slave. Hence the relevance of the action and position of Jesus, and the clarification, at least partial, of Peter’s response (Jn 13,3-17)
Taboo – Temptation – Danger
Women were considered “unclean” through the time of menstruation and could not even be touched. After giving birth, they had to offer a sacrifice in the sanctuary to be “purified” (Lk 2,22 and Lv 12,11-8). Obviously, this purification was not related to the moral impurity (with a sin) that the mother had committed. It was like a variety of ‘taboo’.
If the married woman asks something, you should answer her as briefly as possible: “Do not eat with a married woman or go near her to drink, since it will make you drag your heart and take your life to the pit” (Eclo 9, 9). Since there were guests at home, the women did not share in the banquet, nor could they even serve the food (they hardly take part on the Sabbath and at the Easter banquet). It was to be feared that they would overhear the conversations and be careless.
Divorce, Husband’s Law
Only the husband had the right to break the marriage demanding a divorce, it was an unfair and capricious right:
- If a woman went out into the street without having covered her head and face, she lacked good manners to such an extent that her husband had the right, including the (religious) duty, to throw her out of the house and divorce her, without being forced to pay him the amount agreed upon in the marriage contract.
- A woman who wastes her time in the street, chatting with each other, or who starts spinning on the porch of her house, can be rejected by her husband, without any economic compensation.
- Even when the wife had allowed the food to burn (according to Rabbi Hillel), she could be refused a divorce.
- Another reason could be that the husband revealed something inept in his wife, particularly to go after a younger one and buy her.
Only the man could count on several women, and the wife had to endure the existence of concubines with her, in the same house. Obviously this was the prerogative of the rich.
If the bride had relations with another man, she was considered an adulteress, and could be sentenced to death by stoning (stoning); for the adulterous bride the punishment of strangulation was reserved. For the man there was no condemnation. In women, only frivolity, sex, risk was seen and they tried to protect themselves from her.
Behavior of Jesus towards the Woman
The initial proselytes of Jesus were Jews, men and women, all of whom were invited regardless of their previous life, regardless of whether they were penitents, prostitutes or publicans, no one is marginalized from the call of the Kingdom of God.
The assertion of Jesus: Even so, everyone, even if they are first, will have to be last, and those last will have to be first, Mk 10,31, is applied equally to women and to their inferiority in organizations controlled by men , that is, in the patriarchal ones.
Jesus of Nazareth with his behavior in daily life stood up against the socio-religious, authoritarian and oppressive system for women. But he, with his specific action, gives the woman her position in social and religious life. For Jesus, the woman has the same dignity, class and rights as the man, therefore, he expressly repudiates the marginalizing laws and customs that underestimate that said dignity, class and rights, thereby putting his reputation and her life at risk.
Jesus with the Samaritan Woman
Being in the field, alone, he talks with a Samaritan woman, a pagan foreigner and cursed for all loyal Jews (Jn 4,4-42). It is he who initiates the conversation and knowing that she is a woman publicly recognized for her bad life, he begs her for a favor; he talks extensively with her and not in a superficial way. At that moment her disciples arrived and were surprised that he was chatting with a woman, although no one asked what he was discussing or why he was talking to her Jn 4,27.
Jesus sustains human friendship, permanent and deep, in a public way, with certain women, Jews obviously, for example, with Martha and Mary (Lk 10,38-42; Jn 11,5.33; Jn 12,1-8).
In addition to this, it has female disciples; After that, he went from town to town and from village to village spreading the good news of the kingdom of God; he was accompanied by the Twelve and certain women whom he had healed from evil spirits and illnesses: Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast seven demons; Juana, the wife of Cusa, Herod’s administrator: Susana, and a few others who helped him with his goods Lc 8,1-3.
For the initial communities, the genuine Christian disciple is the one who hears and obeys the word of Jesus, from the writings in which we get this affirmation, pronounced nothing less than in connection with his mother: He was still chatting with the people, when his His mother and siblings were outside, trying to talk to him.
One announced: Listen, your mother and brothers are out and want to tell you something. But he answered the one who announced to him: Who is my mother and my brothers? and pointing with his hand to his followers, he affirmed: Here are my mother and my brothers: since whoever carries out the purpose of my Father in heaven, that is my brother and sister and mother Mt. 12,46 -fifty.
According to Jesus, the group of disciples around him are his real family. In the group of women who are followers of Jesus, there are those who “had healed from evil spirits,” which means that they were suspected of being controlled by evil forces, among whom was Mary Magdalene “from whom he had thrown seven demons”.
Likewise, there were married women like Juana, the wife of an important public man, who also followed Jesus, there were others who collaborated with him with their goods, which means that they would have a certain freedom and economic independence, something that could only happen in the case of the woman who had been widowed.
It follows that Jesus was accompanied by single women of not very good reputation, widows and brides, women so devout that they left home and family to accompany him, something unusual for that time, not very exemplary and even risky, since it was contrary to the “good customs” of Jesus. that time.
These women, Galileans for the most part, disciples of Jesus, are exposed in the gospels as the only ones who were loyal to Him, they remained in Jerusalem through his execution and burial, putting their safety and existence at risk.
When Jesus was dying on the cross: There were also some women watching from afar, among whom was Mary Magdalene, Mary, the progenitor of James the Less and of Joseph, and Salome, who when he was in Galilee accompanied him and took care of him; and additionally a few others who had ascended with him to Jerusalem Mc.15,40-41.
The women are exhibited as the genuine disciples of Jesus who have left everything and have accompanied him along the way even in his painful end on the cross, while the men, who followed him, moved away and left him alone.