Monday, 24 December 2012


How often this picture and many others depict the setting of the birth of Messiah.
We all know the story well:
Miriam and Yosef travel from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem and after arriving one cold winter night they were turned away from the innkeeper were turned away from the village inn. The soon to be parents took refuge in a barn or cave, where Yeshua was born and laid in a manger.
But is this correct?
The first time I came across this idea, was in the reading of the Book, Mary's Journal. In this book, the author entertain the thought that Yeshua was born, not among strangers, in a cave, but around family, in a family home.
The Biblical story of the birth of Yeshua is found primarily in  Luke, chapter 2 . The good Doctor neither quotes nor mentions an innkeeper in his writings. The idea of an inn (think Holiday Inn) isn't known at this period in time. Folks travelling always stayed with family or family friends. While the idea is plays to the humble birth of Yeshua, the "inn" spoken of would have been a home, a room, not the dwelling of a barn or cave
The  Greek term kataluma,  translated inn,  had multiple meanings, among them inn or caravansary. There is only one other place in the New Covenant that uses kataluma and that is Luke 22:11, the parallel passage, is Mark 14:14. The place where Yeshua observed the Last Supper with His disciples. Here, Doctor  Luke gives us additional information about the kataluma. He states that it was a furnished large upper story room within a private Jerusalem house, more likely the home of John Mark and his family. The kataluma of the last night of Yeshua's earthly life was the “upper room.”
Therefore, it is possible  the kataluma of Yeshua's birth that Autumn night was a similar room in Bethlehem.
Miriam and Yosef came to town just as Miriam was about to deliver. Arriving at Yosef's ancestral home, they found it already full of other family members who had arrived earlier. While the exact reason space was not made for a pregnant woman is unknown, it probably indicates the house was full of elder members of Yoseph's family, who had priority.
 In the ancient world, as well as in primitive modern cultures, mangers are also found within the house itself. Animals are regularly kept in homes at night, not in attached exterior sheds, but inside the house in one of the ground floor rooms. Here, animals, tools and agricultural produce were stored. Here, too, food was prepared and possibly consumed. Family sleeping quarters were on the second floor (an upper room). By being inside, the animals were protected from the elements and theft. In addition, their presence provided body heat for cool nights, access to milk for the daily meal and dung as a critical fuel source.
Excavations in the Land of Israel have uncovered numerous installations within domestic structures which probably represent ancient mangers. Some are carved, but most are stone built. Wooden mangers, of course, have not survived in the archaeological record.
Today, more and more Biblical sholars have come to belief that it was in a lower room in the ancestral home, or even maybe the family's sukkah itself, the booth we are commanded to build and dwell in during the Feast of Sukkoh.
It is here, and not a cave that the Shepperd's came to see the New Born Babe, maybe even a few year later the wise men from the East.
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