Did you know that
the MANGER SCENE
is not accurate?
Let’s look at the birth of Jesus. The verses will be in gray and my text will be in RED so you know when it is scripture and when I am making comments or giving info from a link.
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to their own town to register. Why was this taking place–He was taking a census to see how many citizens were in his jurisdiction and to TAX the people. Also note this is the first time they are being told that they MUST do this. The towns are not equipped to handle this many people coming in all at one time. They couldn’t mail it in. It did not matter that someone was due to have a baby at that time. This was required but this also fulfilled prophecy.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. They had to go to the town of their lineage to register and Joseph was from the line of King David that killed Goliath with the slingshot. They went from Nazareth in Galilee to Judea to Bethlehem. Their travels would have required them to go by Samaria. Samaritans and Jews did not get along–remember the Bible story about the Good Samaritan who helped the man who had been robbed beaten and left for dead. This was a rough area that they were traveling in. They would have been traveling through areas with wild animals–this was not just a quick little trip to get the census taken.
Some believe that “inns” were nothing more than a walled off area, in a field, where groups of people would have slept all together with any animals they had tsaveled with. If this is the case when Joseph would go to a home owner asking for a room and being told over and over again that there was NO ROOM in the “inn”–they are talking about the field being full. All of the homes had probably taken in people once the fields were full.
Mary may have been in hard labor while traveling and they may have had to break away from the group as they traveled because she was having to slow down between contractions. We just know when they finally arrive there is no room left anywhere.
Note also that it says while they are there she delivers–many times it is assumed that she delivers the first night but we don’t know that.
- If Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, as stated in Luke’s Gospel, the distance in a straight line from Nazareth to Bethlehem is not important to the time such a journey would have taken. Samaria lay between Galilee and Judea, the region in which the town of Bethlehem lay. There was much ill feeling between the Samaritans and the Jews, although they practised much the same religion. Any lone traveller crossing from Galilee into Samaria would be at risk of attack and would certainly not receive lodgings or any other type of assistance on the journey. The family would have had to travel east, cross over into modern-day Jordan and then travel south on the eastern side of the Jordan River, before crossing back into Judea. This is a much longer journey. Tradition has it that Mary, because she was heavily pregnant, rode on a donkey while Joseph walked. A fit man leading this donkey could have, at a guess, travelled perhaps 20 miles a day. However, some Christians say that Joseph must have been a older man, past his prime. Perhaps the best guess is that this journey would have taken at least a week.
- The common form of travel in those days was by caravan, especially with long trips. Such a mode was far safer in case of accident or injury or possible attack by bandits, as well as being more enjoyable. With a census like this involving as many people as it did, a caravan going to Bethlehem would not be hard to find or join. Caravans would travel about 20 miles in a day, and the distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem (80 miles) would translate into a 4-day journey.
- As stated in above answer, normally it would take about 4 days to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. However, Mary (nearing her pregnancy term and riding a donkey) would require more than 4 days for fear of miscarriage. So perhaps a week (or more) would have been needed. (bullet points came from wiki )
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Manger–that little word gave information to the birth of Jesus. They were not going to find him in the “inns”. He was in a manger–many believe a cave because many people kept their animals in caves. The area is full of caves. Jesus is wrapped in swadding clothes–rags (they did not have a diaper or baby blankets). The “manger” that we think of is the feeding troth.
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
So what is inaccurate about the MANGER SCENE most of us have in our homes? The 3 wise men (MAGI-3 kings–all terms used for the 3 wise men). They were not at the birth of Jesus. They travel by star from a long distance. Joseph and Mary have already left the manger.
The wise men see the star and begin traveling. They were looking for the NEW KING so they stop at Herod’s. Herod is jealous. He doesn’t want someone to take over his throne and so he tells them to go find this new king so he can go visit him also. His real plan is to kill the child. The wise men do not go back and tell Herod once they find Jesus. When the wise men arrive Jesus is about 2 years old.