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Why did Joseph want to put Mary away secretly?


We read in Luke 1:26-38 that the angel Gabriel was sent to Mary announcing to her that she would conceive and give birth to a son. Matthew 1:19 tells us that Joseph did not want to subject Mary to shame and intended to put her away secretly.  Why did he want to do such a thing? Being pregnant and single would be a shame that she cannot cover up. As the scriptures did not give sufficient details, this verse has been much discussed by bible scholars.ld conceive a Son through the Holy Spirit. Mary must have told Joseph about this.

There are two possible interpretations. One interpretation is that Joseph did not believe her because that was something impossible to believe and he could have thought that she committed a wilful act of adultery.

Another possible interpretation is that Joseph did believe Mary because that was according to what the prophets had foretold (Isaiah 7:14). Joseph could have recorgnised that God had planned for a virgin to be with child and he was afraid that by marrying Mary would destroy God’s plan.  This is evident in the fact that in Matthew 1:20, the angel told him not to be afraid of taking Mary as his wife and in Matthew 1:25, it was stated that Joseph did not knew Mary sexually until the child was born.

Of the above two possibilities, it is very likely the second case is the actual situation because in Matthew 1:19, it was stated that Joseph was a righteous man.  This means, he believed the prophecy given by the prophet Isaiah and was afraid to destroy Mary’s virginity and disrupt God’s plan. He felt he had to secretly put Mary away lest she would be subject to shame. People would speculate that Mary had committed adultery and that had caused Joseph to divorce her. For this reason, Joseph was thinking how he could put Mary away secretly.