But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
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Do you see the mildness of the husband? So far from punishing, he did not even declare it to any one, no not even to her whom he suspected, but was thinking it over with himself, as aiming to conceal the cause even from the Virgin herself. For neither is it said that he was minded to cast her out, but to put her away, so very mild and gentle was the man. But while he is thinking on these things, the angel appears in a dream.
And why not openly, as to the shepherds, and to Zacharias, and to the Virgin? The man was exceedingly full of faith, and needed not this vision. Whereas the Virgin, as having declared to her very exceeding good tidings, greater than to Zacharias, and this before the event, needed also a marvellous vision; and the shepherds, as being by disposition rather dull and clownish. But this man, after the conception, and wide the interval between the two men; wherefore neither was there need of rebuke.
But by saying, fear not, he signifies him to have been afraid, lest he should give offense to God, as retaining an adulteress; since, if it had not been for this, he would not have even thought of casting her out. In all ways then he points out that the angel came from God, bringing forward and setting before him all, both what he thought to do, and what he felt in his mind.
Now having mentioned her name, he stayed not at this, but added also, your wife; whereas he would not have called her so, if she had been corrupted. And here he calls her that is espoused a wife; as indeed the Scripture is wont to call betrothed husbands sons-in-law even before marriage.
But what means, to take unto you? To retain her in his house, for in intention she had been now put away by him. Her, being put away, do thou retain, says he, as committed unto you by God, not by her parents. And He commits her not for marriage; but to dwell with you; and by my voice does He commit her. Much as Christ Himself afterwards committed her to His disciple, so even now unto Joseph.
12. Then having obscurely signified the matter in hand, he mentioned not the evil suspicion; but, in a manner more reverent and seemly, by telling the cause of travail he removed this also; implying that the very thing which had made him afraid, and for which he would have cast her out—this very thing, I say, was a just cause why he should take her and retain her in his house. Thus more than entirely doing away with his distress. For she is not only free, says he, from unlawful intercourse, but even above all nature is her conception. Not only therefore put away your fear, but even rejoice more exceedingly, 'for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.'
A strange thing it was which he spoke of, surpassing man's reason, and above all the laws of nature. How then is he to believe, to whom such tidings are altogether new? By the things that are past, says he, by the revelations. For with this intent he laid open all things that were in his mind, what he felt, what he feared, what he was resolved to do—that by these he might assure himself of this point.