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OF THE ANNUNCIATION BY GABRIEL TO MARY OF THE CONCEPTION OF OUR LORD.
AT the ninth hour of the first day of the week, on the twenty-fifth of the month of Adar,--though some say on the first day of the month of Nisan, which is correct,--in the three hundred and seventh year of Alexander the son of Philip, or of Nectanebus2, the Macedonian, six months after Elizabeth's conception of John, the archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said to her, 'Peace be to thee, O full of grace! our Lord is with thee, O blessed among women!' As for her, when she saw (him), she was terrified at his words, and was thinking what this salutation was. The angel said to her, 'Fear not Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive and bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel, which is interpreted, "our God is with us." This (child) shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest.' Mary said to the angel, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to thy word.' And the angel went away from her. In those days Mary arose, and went to Elizabeth het cousin, and she went in and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard Mary's salutation, the babe leaped in her womb, and John in Elizabeth's womb bowed down to our Lord in Mary's womb, as a servant to his master. Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned to her house. After the lapse of six months, Joseph saw that Mary had conceived, and he was troubled in his mind, and said, 'What answer shall I give to the high priest in respect of this trial which has befallen me?' And because he relied upon the purity of his spouse, he fell into perplexity p. 79 and doubt, and said to her, 'Whence hast thou this? and who has beguiled thee, O perfect dove? Wast thou not brought up with the pure virgins and venerable matrons in the temple of the Lord?' And she wept, saying, 'As the Lord God liveth, I have never known man nor had connexion with any one;' but she did not speak to him of the angel and the cause of her conception. Then Joseph meditated within himself and said, 'If I reveal this matter before men, I fear lest it may be from God; and if I keep it back and hide it, I fear the rebuke and penalty of the law.' For the Jews did not approach their wives until they made a feast to the high priest, and then they took them. And Joseph thought that he would put her away secretly; and while he was pondering these things in his heart, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and said, 'Joseph, son of David, fear not to take Mary thy wife; for that which is born in her is of the Holy Spirit.' He spake well when he said 'in her,' and not 'of her.'
And the priests heard of Mary's conception, and they made an accusation against Joseph, as if deceit had been found in him. Joseph said, 'As the Lord liveth, I know not the cause of her conception;' and Mary likewise swore this. There was a custom among the Jews that, when any one of them was accused with an accusation, they made him drink 'the water of trial1;' if he were innocent, he was not hurt, but if he were guilty, his belly swelled, and his body became swollen, and the mark of chastisement appeared in him. When they had made Mary and Joseph drink of the water of trial, and they were not hurt, the high priest commanded Joseph to guard her diligently until they saw the end of this matter2.
1 Chap. xxxix in the Oxford MS.
2 In the MS. Niktîbûs.
1 Num. v. 18.
2 See Hone, Apoc. New Test., Protevangelion, chap. xi; Cowper, Apocryphal Gospels, p. 48; Thilo, Codex Apocryphus, p. 372; Tischendorf, Evangelia Apoc., p. 72.