Little is known of the early years of Jesus from the age of twelve until the beginning of His ministry. But what is known is that He was obedient to his parents (Lk 2:51), He “grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men” (Lk 2:52), and He did not have any formal rabbinic training either in the Hebrew Scriptures or the Oral Law (Mk 6:2; Jn. 7:15).
There is, however, general information of what life was like for a young boy. Synagogues in the Province of Galilee were used as schools, where the rabbi taught all children the five books of Moses, unlike in Jerusalem where only boys were taught. During the sunny, dry days they often had classes outside under a fig tree. Since this tree produces fruit for nearly ten months of the year, it became symbolic of the Word of God from which men were taught to “eat” constantly. It was in these schools that children were taught an elementary level of reading skills. Writing was less popular. There was little need for writing skills in this primitive culture, with the occasional exception of legal documents which were written by professional scribes.
The common languages were Greek, Hebrew, and its sister language, Aramaic. Greek was introduced by Alexander the Great some three centuries earlier. Aramaic was the language Jewish people spoke during their exile in Babylon. However, Hebrew remained the religious language for religious events among the Jews in Israel while it passed from use in other communities such as in Egypt. It is generally accepted that Jesus read from a Hebrew scroll, spoke to the crowds in Aramaic, and conversed with the Roman authorities in Aramaic or Greek.
Jesus, who was taught to recite the Hallel (Ps. 114-118), which means praise. He was also the personification of it. Note the identifying connections,
(114:1) He is the One who came out of Egypt;
(114:8) He was the Rock from which flowed water;
(115:2) He was the answer to the question, “Where is their God.”
(116:3) He was the anguish of the grave;
(116:4) He called upon the name of the Lord;
(116:14, 18) He completed His vows to the Lord;
(116:48) He delivered the captives from captivity;
(117) The love covenant of God
(118) His ultimate triumph over rejection
(118:22) He was the stone that the builders rejected.
(118:25-26) Messianic Parousia (Second Coming)
As a child Jesus attended the community synagogue in Nazareth where His teacher was the local rabbi. But according to Isaiah, every morning God awakened Jesus and instructed Him (Isa. 50:4-5). Therefore, by the age of twelve He had become a profound scholar and demonstrated incredible wisdom by asking questions of the brightest priestly scholars of the Second Temple Period.
The Lord God has given Me the tongue of those who are instructed to know how to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens Me each morning; He awakens My ear to listen like those being instructed.
. For more information in the educational system, see 02.03.04.
. For more information the languages, see 02.03.08.