Thus, the storyline is that Joseph who is living in Jerusalem becomes betrothed to Mary. She is living at the Temple as a ward of the Temple. She is from the tribe of Asher on her mother’s side and Maccabean Jews who were priests in the Temple on her father’s side. Mary is aged about 30 and Joseph is aged about 50. Joseph has children from a previous marriage.
The betrothed Mary feels compelled to go to Nazareth without Joseph. Nazareth is where her mother’s family come from so she has relatives to stay with there. It is here that the angel Gabriel announces that she will become the mother of the Messiah (Luke 1:26). Not only is she a virgin, but her betrothed is not there with her.
When she hears that her aunt Elizabeth is pregnant in her old age, Mary goes to the hill country of Judea to help Elizabeth during her pregnancy (Luke 1:39). Mary stays there for six months until after John the Baptist is born, then returns to Nazareth.
While Mary helps Elizabeth who is quite old with the birth of her child, it is equally important that Elizabeth and Zechariah protect Mary from prying eyes and gossiping tongues. They know that the baby she carries is no accidental happening or single mother occurrence. But Mary must be hidden because others would not understand this. It would, for example, have been impossible for the angel Gabriel to go to Mary when she was at the Temple because it would produce the appearance of her becoming a single mother there and that would be totally inappropriate. It was right for Mary to go to Nazareth where no one knew her. She had to be shielded from view, since if accused of adultery she could have been stoned to death.
Six months pregnant Mary returns to Nazareth and Joseph goes to join her there. She becomes part of his household, though in Orthodox Jewish households man and wife sleep in separate rooms so she would have her own room to sleep in.
The Roman Empire census comes along, and Mary’s relatives register in Nazareth and maybe she does too, but Joseph has to go to Bethlehem in Judea. Therefore, he takes Mary and they go to Bethlehem south of Jerusalem, but find no place at the inn.
Jesus is born in a cave in Bethlehem amongst animals and hay. On the eighth day they travel the short distance to the Temple in Jerusalem to circumcise the child and offer sacrifices. At this point they meet Simeon and Anna who have waited all their lives in expectation of seeing the Messiah.
The atmosphere in Jerusalem is bad when Herod catches wind that a king has been born. The child’s life is being threatened. Herod has all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed since, although he expanded the Second Temple into a magnificent building to his own glory, he certainly didn’t want a messiah turning up. Joseph takes Mary and baby Jesus and flees to Egypt until after Herod dies.
When they return from Egypt they would normally have gone back to live in Jerusalem where they both came from. However, Joseph is warned in a dream to keep away from Jerusalem and go to Galilee instead. The text of Matthew 2:21 implies that they expected to return to Jerusalem, but saw that it was wise not to. So they go to Nazareth far enough away from Jerusalem for the holy family to be safe.
This scenario explains exactly what is written in the gospel of Luke and gospel of Matthew, and the reasons why it had to be like that. The scenario makes both gospels true. The toing and froing between places allowed Mary to bear the special child without comments from onlookers.
Therefore, Joseph was many years older than Mary. He took on Jesus as his ninth child with mother Mary and offered them protection. In return Mary became a mother to his eight children when they moved from Jerusalem to Nazareth.