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Intro to Luke
The next stage in the marriage procedure was the betrothal. First mentioned in Exodus 22:16, the term is used several times in Deuteronomy (20:7; 22:23, 24). The betrothal had the legal status of a marriage (Dt 28:30; 2 Sm 3:14), and anyone violating a betrothed virgin would be stoned according to the law of Deuteronomy for violating his neighbor’s “wife” (Dt 22:23, 24). The meaning of a betrothal involved taking possession, in a manner similar to that of receiving tribute. Nevertheless, there remained a distinction between betrothing a woman and taking her to wife (Dt 20:7). During the period of betrothal, the prospective groom was exempt from military service. It was assumed that the betrothal was a formal part of a permanent relationship (Mt 1:18; Lk 1:27; 2:5).
A man who was to marry another’s daughter was already regarded as a son-in-law at the time of betrothal (Gn 19:14). Mary, as Joseph’s betrothed, was actually considered his wife, although he did not have intercourse with her until after the birth of Jesus. If they followed normal practice, they would not have had sexual relations until after the baby was weaned, usually at the age of three.
a word signifying, both in the Hebrew and Greek, a “messenger,” and hence employed to denote any agent God sends forth to execute his purposes. It is used of an ordinary messenger (Job 1:14: 1 Sam. 11:3; Luke 7:24; 9:52), of prophets (Isa. 42:19; Hag. 1:13), of priests (Mal. 2:7), and ministers of the New Testament (Rev. 1:20).
Their functions are manifold. (a) In the widest sense they are agents of God’s providence (Ex. 12:23; Ps. 104:4; Heb. 11:28; 1 Cor. 10:10; 2 Sam. 24:16; 1 Chr. 21:16; 2 Kings 19:35; Acts 12:23). (b) They are specially God’s agents in carrying on his great work of redemption. There is no notice of angelic appearances to man till after the call of Abraham. From that time onward there are frequent references to their ministry on earth (Gen. 18; 19; 24:7, 40; 28:12; 32:1). They appear to rebuke idolatry (Judg. 2:1–4), to call Gideon (Judg. 6:11, 12), and to consecrate Samson (13:3). In the days of the prophets, from Samuel downward, the angels appear only in their behalf (1 Kings 19:5; 2 Kings 6:17; Zech. 1–6; Dan. 4:13, 23; 10:10, 13, 20, 21).