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Comparative Theology, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
47- The sentence “did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son”
(4) The sentence “did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son”
The word ‘till’ refers only to the precedent clause, and does not imply that the subordinate clause it introduces is opposite in meaning to the precedent clause.
Some examples to illustrate this:
(a) The Holy Bible says that Michel, King Saul’s daughter, “had no children to (till) the day of her death” (2Sam.6: 23). Of course she did not bring forth children after her death.
(b) The Lord Jesus Christ says: “I am with you always, even to (till) the end of ages” (Matt.28: 20). Of course, and after the end of ages as well.
(c) The Lord says to Christ: "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool" (Ps.110: 1). Of course Christ will continue to sit at the right hand of God the Father forever.
There are numerous examples of this point. Therefore, the word ‘till’ does not necessarily imply the opposite meaning of what precedes it.
Joseph did not know the Virgin Mary till she gave birth to her firstborn Son, neither did he know her after she gave birth. If he withheld to touch her before she gave birth to Christ, how would he feel after she had given birth to Him; after he had seen the miraculous signs, the angels and the Magi, and after knowing that He is the Holy One, Emmanuel and the Saviour?
Joseph realised that the Child was Christ who completed the prophecy of Prophet Isaiah who said: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emmanuel” (Is.7: 14) and “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward, even forever” (Is.9: 6,7). The angel must have quoted the last part of this verse when he appeared to the Virgin Mary (Lk.1: 31-33).
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