One year before the massacre, Zechariah (Stanley Townsend), a rabbi in Jerusalem, is making an offering, when he is told in a vision by the Archangel Gabriel that his wife, Elizabeth (Shohreh Aghdashloo), will bear a son. Zechariah does not believe him, stating that he is too old, and Gabriel tells him that he will be unable to speak until the boy is born. In Nazareth, 14-year-old Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) is farming when soldiers come to collect taxes. One man, unable to pay, has a third of his land seized and his daughter pressed into debt slavery. Mary, betrothed to marry 32-year-old Joseph of Judaea (Oscar Isaac), is visited by Archangel Gabriel and told that she will become pregnant with God’s son, whom she is to name “Jesus”. He tells her that God has blessed her cousin Elizabeth with a child despite her old age. Mary visits her before the harvest, where she witnesses the birth of John the Baptist to Elizabeth and Zechariah, who regains his speech. Mary returns from the visit pregnant, to the shock of Joseph and her parents, who fear that Joseph will accuse her of adultery, a sin punishable by death by stoning according to the Torah. At first Joseph does not believe Mary’s religious explanation, but decides not to accuse her. Still shocked and angry, he is later visited in a dream by the Archangel Gabriel, who tells him of God’s plan for Mary’s son. Finally believing, he is ashamed of his earlier doubts.