We have all heard the phrase “my boss is a Jewish Carpenter”. The image of “Jesus” as a carpenter has been instilled in our culture. Everyone knows Yeshua was a carpenter… but it turns out that “everyone” is wrong.
The idea that Yeshua was a carpenter comes from two passages in the Gospels:
Is not this the carpenter‘s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? (Matthew 13:55 KJV)
And the Synoptic parallel in Mark:
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. (Mark 6:3 KJV)
However if we look at the DuTillet/Munster Hebrew text of Matthew 13:55 we read: הלא זה בן נפחא “Is this not the son of the smith?” and similarly in the Shem Tob Hebrew text of Matthew 13:55 אין זה בן הנפח “Is this not the son of the smith?”
The Hebrew noun here נפח or נפחא comes from the Hebrew verb root נפח meaning “to blow” and in this noun, referring to one who blows, using a bellows. The Hebrew word refers to a metal smith in general, one who smelts metals and makes things from them and encompasses a blacksmith, a silversmith a goldsmith etc.
This Hebrew word is attested at least as early as the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Thanksgiving Hymns “You have brought him to the crucible like gold to be worked by the fire, and as silver, which is refined in the smelter of the smiths to be refined seven times.” (1QH 13, 16)
The idea that Yeshua was a blacksmith brings whole new dimensions to his person and his sayings.
To begin with, the image of Yeshua as a weak, mild mannered looking individual are all wrong. Yeshua the blacksmith would have been a strong powerful man with big biceps, who could sling a blacksmith’s hammer and pound metal against an anvil.
Moreover, when Yeshua said “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matt. 10:34) these words have a stronger meaning coming from a blacksmith, who could literally make swords! And when Yeshua advocates sword ownership saying “and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one” (Luke 22:36) it has a whole new dimension, knowing he was a blacksmith!
So where did the idea that Yeshua was a Carpenter arise? The Aramaic (Old Syriac and Peshitta) versions translate this Hebrew word נפחא (smith) with the the Aramaic word נגרא which Jastrow defines as “carpenter, turner; in gen. artisan” (A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi and the Midrashic Literature, Marcus Jastrow 876a). This word usually means “carpenter” but generally can refer to any kind of “artisan”. The Greek translator renders with τέκτονος which can also refer to a carpenter or generally to an artisan.
The original Hebrew of Matthew, as preserved in both the DuTillet/Munster and Shem Tob Hebrew versions, reveals that Yeshua was a blacksmith, and the Aramaic and Greek translations generalized this with a word meaning “artisan” but most commonly referring to a “carpenter” and thus the deep set, yet incorrect, tradition that Yeshua was a carpenter was born.
This work takes hours of my time. As many of you know, my wife is very ill, and I spend most of my time at home as her caretaker. I work at a desk less than six feet from her bed. So I am in a position to dedicate many hours to this important work that I have been directed to do.
But I also realize that it is not the activity of James Trimm alone who is responsible to do this work, it is all of us together who are charged with the responsibility of accomplishing this work. I very much look on the efforts of this restoration work as a cooperative one with each one of you. We are all joint heirs with Messiah and should always be about our Father’s business. I am honored to be able to be partnered with truth seekers as this restoration of Scripture moves forward in fulfillment of prophecy.
Donations can be sent by paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053
The work continues in the restoration of the ancient sect of Nazarene Judaism thru the NazareneSpace social network, Nazarenejudaism.com and this blog! Plus we have absorbed the old Messianic Center Social Network URL!
We are still posting key Hebrew and Aramaic documents in Hebrew/Aramaic and English interlinear, keyed to Strong’s word numbers at our Scripture Nexus website!
Most importantly, thru the Scripture Restoration Project we are doing the very important work of restoring the original Scriptures from ancient Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts, and posting the results as we go. After starting with Mark 1:1-6 and Matthew 3:4 we moved to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-8) and Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-49) so that we could get some of Yeshua’s key teachings covered early in the project. We have already completed the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12 and Luke 6:20-26) and have posted them both in pointed Hebrew and in English at our new project website.
This project will play a very important part in prophecy, as we read in the Book of Enoch:
But when they write down truthfully all my words in their languages, and do not change or diminish ought from my words but write them all down truthfully –all that I first testified concerning them. Then, I know another mystery, that books will be given to the righteous and the wise to become a cause of joy and uprightness and much wisdom. And to them shall the books be given, and they shall believe in them and rejoice over them, and then shall all the righteous who have learnt therefore all the paths of uprightness be recompensed.’
And the words of Isaiah: “the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.” (Isaiah 29:18)
When we complete the restoration of the originals of the books of the so-called “New Testament” (better called the Ketuvim Netzarim, Writings of the Nazarenes) we intend to publish the volume in Israel, and to make it a key part of the restoration of Nazarene Judaism among the Jewish people in the Land.
Finally we have launched the new Hebraic Stoicism Institute website to reach out to the substantial Stoic Community with the message of 4th Maccabees and the Torah commentary of Philo of Alexandria. The launch has gotten a lot of “likes” and lively discussion on Stoicism Facebook Groups.
Friends, we count on your support to keep all of these projects funded. Our account is badly depleted, and donations have been low. Help keep this vision alive!