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Significance of Jesus' age of 12?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by gsheph, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. gsheph

    gsheph Newbie

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    Is there any significance of Luke mentioning Jesus' age of 12 other than a simple history dating? I was thinking that maybe since it was one year before the modern Bar Mitzvah (son of commandment -- one to whom the Law now applies. And if I got the meaning of Bar Mitzvah wrong, please correct me.) that it had something special to do with it. I read that the year of the Bar Mitzvah was changed from 20 to 13 in the Talmudic era, so maybe it's nothing. If anyone has anything I'd really like to know.

    Luke 2:41-52 NASB:
    41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” 49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

    52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.​
     
  2. Rick Otto

    Rick Otto The Dude Abides

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    I don't know about the gematria involved, but it seems to be an illustration of conscientiousness.
     
  3. x141

    x141 ...

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    Twelve is the number that represents the goverment or the governing nature of God within us, as well as the number of the hours in the night and in the day which are all symbolic to open to us the nature of our Father the invisible God. The night and the day are one of the things that the twenty-four elders symbolize in revelation as the twelve stones laid in the jordan and the twelve laid in the land. In the jordan Jesus laid twelve stones, the one that rules the night thereby symbolicly fulfiling all righteousness.

    Jesus was taught of the Father even as we are and all those that are taught of the Father come to him, to this sonship.
     
  4. granpa

    granpa Noahide/Rationalist

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    Jesus was 12.5 in 6 AD when the census of Quirinius started
     
  5. Standing Up

    Standing Up On and on

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    Age 20 was marrigable? able to go to war? Right?

    What source shows age 13 or 12 for something else?
     
  6. LittleLambofJesus

    LittleLambofJesus Member since March 7 2006

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    I would think it goes quite well with Isaiah 11:6...at least IMHO.

    Isaiah 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together
    and a little child/lad shall lead them.


    .......
     
  7. Steve Petersen

    Steve Petersen Senior Veteran

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    For a history of the Bar Mitzvah, read the Wikipedia article here.

    IIRC, a boy became a man at the first signs of puberty in ancient times. This would vary probably from person to person. In order to be counted for a minyan, (group of ten men needed for public prayer) you had to have reached puberty.

    These days, at his Bar Mitzvah a boy is allowed to read publicly from the Torah and will often give a commentary. It seems quite plausible that this was going on with Jesus in the episode you mention. The gospel indicates that the elders were astonished with his answers. Perhaps they were responding to his commentary.
     
  8. LittleLambofJesus

    LittleLambofJesus Member since March 7 2006

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    So how does that apply to Christianity today?

    .....
     
  9. Steve Petersen

    Steve Petersen Senior Veteran

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    It doesn't.
     
  10. Darth Bagel

    Darth Bagel ๏_๏

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    Just curious about your take on this: didn't Jesus go through the same schooling that all the other Jewish boys did? Eventually he studied under a rabbi until he reached the appropriate age to strike out on his own (30), right?

    So the scene depicted in Luke 2 paints a picture of Jesus practicing something that any Jewish boy at age 12 who made it to that level of education (Bet-Talmud I think?) would have been doing, only Jesus grasped how to do it (the art of asking questions) perfectly, hence the astonishment of the teachers.

    This understanding seems to make the most sense to me, so in response to the OP I think the significance of the Scripture in Luke 2 is that it's showing Christ's humanity. He actually did grow up like a normal human being, he did schooling that other Jewish boys did. He was an extraordinary student, but he was a student nonetheless. I don't think this chips away at his divinity either, if anything it makes him more amazing.
     
  11. Standing Up

    Standing Up On and on

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    Interesting take. But perhaps it is saying Christ didn't study under a rabbi from say, 12-30. Who would have been "smart" enough to teach Him, when He was astounding them at age 12?
     
    Fireinfolding likes this.
  12. Darth Bagel

    Darth Bagel ๏_๏

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    Who knows, maybe he did, maybe he didn't.

    As I understand it, when a rabbi has a new yoke two esteemed rabbi's would have to affirm the rabbi and his new yoke in order for it to be taught, and within that context at Jesus' baptism when John the Baptist and the God affirmed him is when his ministry began.
     
  13. Standing Up

    Standing Up On and on

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    Don't know what you're saying ...
     
  14. Steve Petersen

    Steve Petersen Senior Veteran

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    I am not sure how widespread literacy was in Jesus day. I suspect that there was a greater emphasis on it in Jewish circles because the Torah was the nexus of Jewish identity in a community that was often dispersed and oppressed. Was the education formal or not? I don't know really.

    As for studying under a rabbi? Don't know that either, but most of his views lined up with the Pharisees (specifically the school of Hillel mostly), though he often differed from them on their conduct.

    I am really intrigued by his Jewish contemporaries, men who would have heard him and vice versa. Some of their teachings are preserved in the Mishnah, Talmud and other sources. I often wonder how much Jesus and they influenced each other.
     
  15. Steve Petersen

    Steve Petersen Senior Veteran

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    Judaism often equates a rabbi's interpretation of the Torah as a 'yoke', though in a good sense. A yoke was used to guide oxen in the correct path when working the fields.
     
  16. Harry3142

    Harry3142 Regular Member

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    Jesus' being twelve years old was the reason why neither Mary nor Joseph realized that he was not with their company until they had gone a day's journey from Jerusalem. Custom dictated that at the age of twelve a boy had a choice as to whom he would travel with. He could choose to travel in the group with the women and children for one last time (at the age of thirteen he was required to walk with the men), or he could choose to walk with Joseph and the other men, who traveled ahead of the women and children in order to protect their families from the attacks of bandits.

    In all likelihood he would have attained puberty at the age of 10 or 11. Life was hard for the common man in that part of the world, and they grew up fast. In all likelihood he was already helping Joseph provide for his family by working as a carpenter, a stonemason, and in the fields during the harvest. So at twelve years of age he was ready to take his place among the other men.

    I myself grew up in the country, and work both inside and outside the home was a regular duty from a young age for me, as well as for the other children who lived in that region. For this reason I attained puberty when I was 10 years old, and other boys attained it either at that age or only a year older as well. With all the work he would have needed to do as a member of the family I have no doubt that Jesus was already in full manhood by the year in which he was 12 years old.
     
  17. Darth Bagel

    Darth Bagel ๏_๏

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    It sounds like it was fairly formal, conducted in the temple by the Jewish teachers of the day. Granted it wasn't structured like modern education systems, but I think it did have some semblance of order. That's just my conjecture though.

    I recall reading somewhere that on a Jewish child's first day of education (Bet-Sefer?) the teacher would put honey on their slates and have them lick the honey off and then quote Psalms 119 as a blessing of sorts.

    I'm familiar with the houses of Hillel and Shammai, If I remember correctly I think it's been said that Jesus most often aligned with Hillel's teachings, except in the case of divorce in which he aligned with Shammai.

    I am as well, since Jesus was such a profound teacher I'm sure that many Jewish teachers who didn't convert to Christianity still gleaned many teachings from him. Likewise I wouldn't be surprised if Jesus yoke, while new, encapsulated some teachings from former rabbi's.
     
  18. Standing Up

    Standing Up On and on

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    And that somehow ties to John the baptist, how?
     
  19. Darth Bagel

    Darth Bagel ๏_๏

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    Because in the Jewish tradition when a rabbi claimed to have a new yoke, or a new set of interpretations of the Torah, the teaching wouldn't be accepted unless two other authorities (typically other rabbis) affirmed this teacher and his new yoke. So, when Jesus was baptized, John the Baptist was essentially the first authority to affirm Jesus' new yoke, and shortly thereafter the Father spoke and affirmed Jesus and his new yoke.

    That's my understanding of how the tradition played out and the significance of those events described in the gospels.
     
  20. Steve Petersen

    Steve Petersen Senior Veteran

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    I was responding the the bolded words in the post you quoted about the 'yoke', not about John the Baptist.

    Often 'yoke' is taken in a negative context. I was just trying to nip that in the bud before it became a thread about what a burden the Torah is. (You just know someone would bring that up. ;) )
     
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