CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK: We are building a Biblical and historical foundation establishing the time and season of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today we look at the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem for Mary and Joseph. It was tax and census time and every male had to return to his house of origin. At this time Mary was well along in her pregnancy making the trip ever more difficult.
Luke 2:4-6 KJV And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
This was a 70 mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Mary was due at any time. This trip would take from 4 to 7 days walking or riding a donkey. Most likely, due to Mary's condition, the trip would have been closer to the 7 days but this is only speculation and cannot be argued from silence. After arriving in Bethlehem they were housed in a stable meant for animals because there was no room in the inn.
Luke 2:7 KJV And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
This leads to a question which we need to keep in our mind for further evaluation. The inn was a public place in which those who where poor could come and stay when visiting the city. We know that Joseph and Mary were poor for many reasons which we will lay out in a later study. The problem was not that Bethlehem did not have an inn for visitors. The problem was that they had a great influx of people that caused all the inns to be full. Why were all the inns in Bethlehem full? What was so important in the region that drew people from everywhere to Bethlehem at this particular time and season? These are interesting points and an important clue as to when our Lord was born. More on this in the next study.
Charles Morris. Founder and Senior Pastor of RSI Ministry, RSI School of Ministry, and RSI Publishing L.L.C..