Webster's new World Dictionary, Concise Edition (1960) lying open on a desk

Impecunious: Wednesday Words

This week is the perfect opportunity to write using “impecunious”!

When else would an impecunious couple be the talk of the world, even as unknown as they were in their own time?

I’m talking of Joseph and Mary, of course.

I stumbled upon this word reading the epilogue of N.T. Wright’s book, “The Way of the Lord” (page 105). In his epilogue, Wright gives a great deal of insight into the struggles and complexities of life in modern day Israel and the West Bank. (I highly recommend every follower of Jesus read this book, by the way!)

Impecunious: having little or no money

Back to our now-famous couple. We know they were impecunious because of the sacrifice they brought to the Temple on the day Jesus was circumcised: two birds. How do we know this demonstrated their impecuniousness? Here’s what the law stated was required:

When the time of purification is completed for either a son or a daughter, the woman must bring a one-year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtledove for a purification offering. She must bring her offerings to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle. The priest will then present them to the LORD to purify her. Then she will be ceremonially clean again after her bleeding at childbirth. These are the instructions for a woman after the birth of a son or a daughter.

If a woman cannot afford to bring a lamb, she must bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons. One will be for the burnt offering and the other for the purification offering. The priest will sacrifice them to purify her, and she will be ceremonially clean.

Leviticus 12:6-8 NLT

Not only was Jesus born in a humble stable, he was born into an impecunious family. His birth was announced to impecunious shepherds watching their flocks at night.

We don’t know how old Jesus was when the wise men arrived with their precious gifts that would provide for the young family as they fled to Egypt. We don’t know how long those gifts continued to provide for them as they awaited the time to return to Israel. The timing of it all is a little fuzzy in the biblical account.

We do know that the Creator and Sustainer of everything that exists, seen and unseen, chose to be born into poverty.

That poverty did not define Joseph, and it did not define Mary. Each was instead defined by their character and obedience to God’s will for their lives.

“Poor” is not a word that pops into my mind when I think of Jesus, either. He, too, chose obedience to his Father all the days he walked this earth.

What would it be like if more of us focused on being willing to listen and follow God instead of being distracted by the many things we lack?

Just a thought brought to you by this week’s Wednesday Word.


Check out Wednesday Words to find out about my vocabulary expansion project, and join along!

Write a post using the word “impecunious,” then put a link to your post in the comments below. I’d love to read your thoughts!

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