Matthew 1:19,20 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded putting her away privily. When he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
In the King James Version of the Bible Matthew calls Joseph, the husband of Mary, and “just” man. When he learns of her pregnancy, he wants to protect Mary’s reputation and “dismiss her quietly.” Then, as a more authentic expression of his justness, Joseph takes to heart the angel’s words that Mary has the Lord’s blessing. He makes a conscious decision to take on the responsibility of being a husband to Mary and a dad to the child.
The culture in which Joseph found himself demanded justice of banishment or stoning. Even if Mary was not accused of adultery, it would mean the equivalent of a divorce. Either would involve the religious leaders of the town. Either would include condemnation and rejection. Joseph chose a third course: to listen to God, a voice of compassion and love. Was Joseph still just? Was Joseph still righteous? Joseph would raise, nurture, and help educate a stepson. Joseph chose to love. The greatest attribute of justice.