Verse 5 “To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”
Espousal was a stronger relationship than our marriage engagement today. It was a legal relationship but it was not a marriage. Like marriage the relationship could be broken by divorce. It was a year-long relationship in which a couple could get to know each other better and make adequate preparation for a home and life together. The marriage was not supposed to be consummated during the espousal period. There were to be no sexual relations. It was during this time when Mary was espoused to Joseph that she was found to be with child. This was a great trial to Joseph’s faith, but he believed what God revealed to him, and his mind was put at ease. The news that Mary was with child was as difficult for Joseph as it was for Mary. He was called upon to believe that Mary had been faithful to him and had not been with another man as well as to believe the fantastic truth that the Child was from the Holy Spirit.
Mary was great with Child when she journeyed to Bethlehem. We are not told how long Joseph and Mary took to make the trip, nor are we told how long they were at Bethlehem before the delivery. We are not told if Mary was in the seventh, eighth, or ninth month when the trip began. We are not told if they stayed for a time with relatives or friends somewhere between Nazareth and Bethlehem. We are only told that they made the journey with Mary “being great with child” and that while they were in Bethlehem the Baby was born. We should be careful about reading into the Bible what is not there.