These are interesting Christmas details from the biblical account.
This one is really about some of the precious and almost hidden details of the Christmas story as it is found in the Bible.
There are thousands of these, I am sure, and I will try to add more as I remember them..
But here are a few that I have shared in different settings:
Maybe the hardest one for me accept – that mangers from that region were made of stone, not wood. There goes the tale of three trees, huh?
The Jews were in dire straits living subjugated to the Romans. They imagined a Moses-like Messiah who would come and set them free. Names mean a lot to the Jews, and always have. As I understand it, as more and more bone-boxes have been uncovered, the most common names are Mary, Jesus and John (one place indicated that maybe 1 in 5 people had one of these names
Mary (Mara) means “bitter”
Jesus (Yesua) means “God save”
John (yohanas) means “God grace”
As Hebrew men and women were naming their children in such as way as to cry out to God … “Our life is bitter! Show us grace! Save us!”
People in Jesus’ bloodlines:
This is interesting to me that Jesus’ bloodline…
Liars, cheats, non-Jews, kings, adulterers, polygamist, rebels, murderers, and people with other aspects of bad reputation.
The fields around Bethlehem:
Rachel died on her way to Bethlehem and was buried somewhere on the road…
Ruth 2:4 – Boaz owned the fields around Bethlehem (means “house of bread”). Boaz raised at least barley and wheat in the fields around this little down just 5-10 miles from Jerusalem.
1 Samuel 7:12-15 – David (the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz) took care of his father’s sheep on the fields they had inherited.
2 Samuel 23 – David waiting in the hills around Bethlehem waiting to attack the Philistines who were holding his hometown.
Luke 2:15 – Shepherds were watching their sheep at night in the very same fields where David watched his sheep.
In fact, I recently was reminded that with the temple so nearby, that probably the sheep raised in Bethlehem were often used in the temple for sacrifices. In fact, it is likely that one of the main jobs of a shepherd was to cull out the unblemished first-born males. Part of their job was to spot and verify these sheep in particular – since they would have been so much more valuable than any other sheep.
So, though they were low on the social totem-pole, they were the perfect people to be the first to verify the birth of one meant to take on the role of the atonement and final Passover lamb!
Jesus actually went to Jerusalem when He was about 30 days old (Luke 2:22) and apparently his parents went from Jerusalem to Nazareth… so it may be that the Magi’s actual path was from Jerusalem to Bethlehem (as guided by the scholars – who, as my pastor recently pointed out knew the truth but were not moved by this knowledge) and then from Bethlehem to Nazareth (about 70 miles) as guided by the star. But we really do not know the exact timetable.
These “magi” – educated mean from the East – most likely, Persia, may have traveled hundreds of miles and may have down the well traveled Via Maris – the way of the sea – down through Galilee, and into the region of Jerusalem and Bethlehem… and maybe then to Nazareth. Apparently, in addition to their astrology work, they studied scripture of other cultures (Numbers 24:17?). Maybe many of the Hebrew scriptures had been left there from the time of Daniel, or Nehemiah.
Gold – a good gift for a King. Maybe they were aware of Isaiah 9:6.
Frankincense – an expensive spice made from the resin of Boswellia trees. In the Hebrew world, it was best known for usage in the Temple worship… and was used by priests. Perhaps Psalm 110:4 was a known passage.
Myrrh – and expensive spice connected to lovers (for the perfuming of the bed in preparation for a lover) and dead bodies (Jesus was apparently wrapped in 75 lbs of it by Nicodemus made from Commiphora tree. Perhaps the Magi were aware of the fact that they were coming to visit someone born to die… Isaiah 53:4.
Both Myrrh and Frankincense are created by a process of wounding the tree and allowing the tree to bleed.
I think you could study the details of this historical account forever, and not get bored… and I know there are already plenty of places where you can find out a more accurate picture of the “inn”, the “stable” and things like that, so I didn’t mention it here… but some other fun tidbits to remind us to think about Jesus.