A Place to Share: Jerusalem/Galilee:
Jerusalem was the central of the Jewish world. Male Jews were supposed to make a pilgrimage to the Jerusalem temple for the three major Jewish feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. However, since Nazareth is a three or four day journey from Jerusalem (about a hundred miles), it is unlikely that Jesus made the trip often. The Gospels tell us that he went with his family at the age of twelve. He also visited Jerusalem during his public life (once or three times depending on the Gospel). On one visit to the temple, Jesus is recorded as reacting violently to those who were using the temple for commercial purposes. It is highly probable that this action of Jesus is related to his trial and eventual execution. Of further historical interest is the fact that the temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.
Jesus was a Nazarene. He lived most of his life in the town of Nazareth within the province of Galilee. Although a small village, Nazareth was close to the metropolitan centres of Tiberias and Sepphoris. Unlike those predominantly Gentile (non-Jewish) cities, Nazareth was a Jewish enclave. It was also relatively poor and overpopulated; there was a scarcity of natural resources such as water and fertile soil. In such a situation, there tended to be a fair amount of sickness and disease. Nonetheless, Nazareth could not be called destitute. Jesus came from afamily of craftsmen orcarpenters which suggests a reasonable socio-economic standard ofliving.
Education was a priority for Jewish people. Jesus would have learnt the Bible at the village school (until the age of twelve) and at the local synagogue. This accounts for Jesus’ knowledge of Hebrew (the language of the Bible) and Aramaic (the language in which religious discussion was held). It was also the custom of the time for young adults to attach themselves to a local teacher or sage. Although we know little of Jesus’ young adult life, we do know that he eventually chose to be a disciple of John the Baptist. Certainly, by the time of his ‘public ministry’, Jesus was well versed in the Scriptures and the Jewish tradition. This suggests that he spent many years learning and discussing his Jewish faith and heritage.