Most people think of Jesus as a carpenter. I am convinced he was not. The same word translated “carpenter” is also 50% of the time translated “stone worker” as in rock quarry awful job worker. And when you go to Israel and see all the rock, you realize that rock workers were the labor class and carpenters were the mid-upperclass.
But we know Jesus was from a poor family. Dirt poor. How do we know this?
In Lev 12 we see instructions on a woman who has given childbirth. If she gives birth to a sin, she is unclean for seven days and then continues a period of purification until thirty-three days. After thirty-three days, she brings to the temple a year old lamb. This is for her purification offering (sometimes called “sin” offering) in Scripture, to move her from a state of unclean to clean.
If a woman gives birth to a daughter, she is to wait fourteen days for a time of uncleanness. Then she continues in purification for sixty-six days. And then again she is to bring a one-year old unblemished lamb. After the sacrifice she moves from unclean to clean.
I find this interesting as in the US the time is six weeks (42 days) after a child is born. After that time a husband/wife are blessed to resume marital interactions once again.
Now back to Leviticus 12. A woman was to bring an offering of a sheep to the temple after a set number of days after a baby’s birth. But what if she was poor? In that case she could bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for the burnt offering and one for the purification offering. Then she would be clean.
And this is exactly what we see happening for the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:22-24):
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
Mary and Joseph couldn’t afford to bring a sheep. They didn’t have one. So instead they brought the birds.
So what does this matter?
It matters everything to the poor man. Jesus did not come in a king’s palace even though he was king of the whole earth. He could relate to the lowliest as he probably had to work young and sometimes go with small meals because food was hard to come by. His house probably was very basic.
He came as someone who understands hardship. And for the poor man, that means everything.