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Bits and pieces

Last update 22 December, 2016.

Jesus wasn’t born in a stable

Does the Bible really teach Jesus was born in a barn because nobody helped his parents after they found out there was no room in the inn? As so often church doctrine is very wrong.

Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem....

Luke 2:6 And it happened as they were there the days were fulfilled for her to bear.

Read that verse closely: While they already in Bethlehem Mary was going trough her last days of pregnancy. Bethlehem wasn't a large town so it wouldn't have taken long to figure out there was no place to stay. We don't know how many days "the days" were but there is a fair chance they could have went to Zacharias and Elizabeth, who lived in the "hill country"  (Luke 1:39-40)

The hill country is quite large but the chances are that they lived quite near Jerusalem because Zacharias was a priest.

The region Jesus was born in, was big on hospitality. Even the Bible teaches about helping people out. As I will show hospitality was a major design factor of a house. Add to that the urgent needs of a pregnant woman and hospitality is even more obvious. Add to that the fact that Bethlehem was Joseph's home town he had to visit for the census. No family or friends that would help them?

Luke 2:3 And all went to be registered, each to his own city.
Luke 2:4 And Joseph .... because of his being of the house and family of David,

Joseph from the lineage of King David, visiting the town David was born and anointed in, would likely have made the people even more willing to help. To us a bloodline means very little. For those people is was just an extra reason for hospitality. So when pregnant woman and her husband who announced himself as "I am Joseph, son of Heli, son of Matthat, the son of Levi" knocked on their door they would chose sleeping outside themselves over turning the couple away.

While all of the above is generally true it's obviously no conclusive proof that Jesus wasn't born in a barn. Perhaps they simply had no choice than to stay in a barn "until the days were fulfilled". That  would have been way better than giving birth in the middle of the street.

Luckily there’s proof in the Greek text and in the architecture of the houses at build at that time. In fact similar house were still found in the region late last century.

Luke 2:7 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.
Luke 22:11 And you will say to the housemaster of that house, Our Master says to you, Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?

Inn = katalyma = guest room.

Katalyma is a general term for all sorts of shelters but Jesus continues to define it as an "upper room". That is a major key to the sort of house.

Luke 2:12 And that one will show you a large upper room which he has furnished. Prepare there.

The good Samaritan takes the wounded man to a commercial inn because he pays the inn keeper. In this case the Greek word for inn is pandocheion, which means "all to-receive"

Luke 10:34 And coming near, he bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. And putting him on his donkey, he brought him to an inn and cared for him.
Luke 10:35 And on the dawn of the day he departed, taking out two denarii, he gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, Care for him, and whatever more you spend, on my return I will repay to you.


What happened is this: Joseph and Mary went to a private house. Likely unannounced because there were already guests staying in the guest room.

Below 4 drawings of what the majority of the houses in the area looked like.

A poor family always lived in a house with 3 rooms

Room A - Animals
This room was a place for the animals. Poor people had only a few animals so it was a rather small area. The animals were outside during daytime and in the evening they were kept indoors to keep them safe from wild animals and thief. In the winter their body heat, heated the house.

In Luke 13:10-17 Jesus is accused of healing a a woman on Sabbath. The English translation hides some of the beauty of the text.

10 And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on one of the Sabbaths.
11 And, behold, there was a woman having a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent together and was not able to straighten herself at all.
12 And seeing her, Yahshua called her near and said to her, Woman, you have been freed from your infirmity.

What's translated as 'freed' literally means 'untied'. Here Jesus is setting the stage for refuting His opponents even before they accused Him :-)

13 And He laid hands on her. And instantly she straightened herself and glorified Elohim.
14 But answering, being angry that Yahshua healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the crowd, There are six days in which it is right to work. Therefore, coming in these, be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.
15 Then the Master answered him and said, Hypocrite! Each one of you on the Sabbath, does he not untie his ox or his donkey from the manger in the house, and goes and waters it?
16 And this one being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound, lo, eighteen years, ought she not to be freed from this bond on the Sabbath day?

So Jesus refutes them by saying they also untied (animals) on Sabbath day.

17 And on His saying these things, all who were opposed to Him were ashamed. And all the crowd rejoiced over all the glorious things taking place by Him.

They were all ashamed, meaning all Jesus said was true.

"in the house" isn't part of any Greek text. An ninth century Arab speaking translator added those words just as the KJV adds many words in italics.

The reason I added this part is to show it's so highly logical to people in that area to have an animal indoors they just assume and add it to the translation.

Room B - Family room
This was the family room. Just one room for the whole family. Jesus was born in that room.

The type with the higher floor was handy because it was a few feet higher than the floor of the animals. That created a 'wall' that acted as a barrier for the animals. It was also handy for sweeping.

Room C - Guest room or Prophet's room
Earlier I wrote about the great hospitality being reflected in the way houses were build.

This room was only for guests. Such a tiny house had a room specially for guests. The room on the ground floor certainly was called a guest room. I'm not sure the room on the roof was also called a guest room or only a prophet's room. The name prophet's room originates from 1 Kings 17:19

Anyway when Joseph and Mary arrived this room -inn- was full.

The owners of the house could have sent Mary and Joseph or the other guests away; they didn't and invited them in their family room.
In two of the drawings you see a dashed line which is some framework separating the animal area from the people area.
In the other two drawings you see a few steps. The floor of the living room was a few feet above the floor of the stable. One big open area.
I think Jesus was born in this type of house because of the mangers.

There were several types of manger. A box either made out of wood or carved out of stone. That was mainly for sheep. The wooden manger was likely semi-portable so could in theory be placed in the middle of the living room.

Another type of manger was for oxen and other larger animals. A hole was carved out in the floor of the family room. The ox had to stand to eat from the manger.

What sort of house Jesus was in? It was a simple peasants house. But the type I don't know. In all sorts of Christmas displays Jesus is surrounded by animals but none are mentioned in the Gospels. If there were really animals, the type of house could be narrowed down a bit.
That said I really doubt a mother would put a baby in a manger surrounded by animals that can do all sorts of harm to the baby.

My guess is a wooden portable manger put somewhere in the family room.


Were Jesus' earthly parents rich poor or middle class?
Did the 3 kings arrive the night Jesus was born?

Luke 2:22 Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
Luke 2:23 The law of the Lord says, "If a woman's first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.”
Luke 2:24 So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord "either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."

They offered 2 doves.

Lev 12:2 "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. If a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her menstrual period.

Lev 12:8 But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.'"

Answer #1: Doves are for the poor. So Jesus parents were poor.

Lev 12:2 "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. If a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her menstrual period.
Lev 12:3 On the eighth day the boy's foreskin must be circumcised.

Jesus was taken to the Temple on the 8th day which is also the 1st day Mary was clean and had to offer the doves.

Mat 2:11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Because they offered doves they didn't yet have the gold to buy a lamb.

Answer #2: The 3 kings arrived after Jesus was 8 days old.