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Why would Jesus' parents travel to their birthplace for a Roman census?

Why would Jesus' parents travel to their birthplace for a Roman census?

The Gospel According to Luke says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem because his parents had to travel to their place of origin for a census:

1 Now in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David's city, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; 5 to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant. -- Luke 2:1-5, World English Bible

Why not just count the people where they were, as we do today?

Are there non-Christian sources that substantiate the existence of such a requirement, or explain its purpose? Are there non-Christian sources that would cast doubt on this account, or reasons to think that it was an invention by a later generation that was concerned with linking Jesus to David?

Why travel to one's birthplace for a Roman census? Well Exactly. I suspect since there was a lot of prophecy that needed fulfilling, something had to emerge from the convenience dimension to make Jesus both Nazarene and born in Bethlehem.

The article "Serious Problems With Luke's Census" is a well cited article on how the census story is dubious.

It points out that the census is not consistent with contemporary documents. For example: - There's no independent documents (we have a lot of roman documents) that verifies the existence of a fairly serious bureaucratic exercise. Quirinius is named incorrectly as the governor of Judea at the time (he wasn't).

An article on the http://www.biblearchaeology.org points out, as well as there being litttle evidence for this "empire-wide" census; if there had of been one it wouldn't have been administered in a client kingdom.

We must conclude that the central question is really unanswerable, because none of this happened.

The scholarly consensus is almost unanimous on this point: Luke is simply wrong. There are a number of reasons why the account provided by Luke cannot be taken seriously; these reasons include contradictions between Luke and the external historical evidence, Luke's obvious misunderstanding of how censuses were conducted, Luke's misunderstanding of geographical and political issues, and simple logic.

Contradictions Between Luke and the Historical Record:

[Jesus was born] In the days of Herod, king of Judaea…
(Luke 1:5)

Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judaea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.
(Luke 2:1-7)

The first problem with this account is that it claims that the reigns of Herod in Judaea, Quirinius in Syria, and Augustus in Rome coincided. In reality, they did not. Herod died in the year 4 CE, and was succeeded by his son Archelaus. Archelaus proved to be an incompetent and brutal King, and the Roman authorities quickly removed him from office in the interest of preventing unrest. In the year 6 CE, therefore, Archelaus was deposed, and Judaea became a province of the Roman Empire, under direct control of a proconsul, overseen by the Governor of Syria, who was, at that time, Quirinius.

When Judaea was made a province, the Emperor ordered Quirinius to conduct a census for the purpose of taxation. The historical record, Luke notwithstanding, shows that the census occurred in the same year Archelaus was deposed, 6 CE, two years after Herod's death.

Luke's Misunderstanding of Geographical and Political Issues:

Luke claims that the census occurred in Judaea, and that Joseph was required to leave Nazareth and go to Bethlehem to be registered for taxation. This is a significant problem, because Nazareth is in Galilee, not Judaea. When Judaea became a province of the Roman Empire, Galilee remained unaffected by the annexation, as a semiautonomous client state. From 4 CE to 39 CE, Galilee was ruled by Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great; he was deposed by Emperor Caligula in 39, and Galilee was incorporated into Judaea in the year 44 CE, a few years after Jesus' death.

This brings us to the point: A census in Judaea would have no bearing on Joseph and Mary, who lived in Galilee. Quirinius' jurisdiction ended at the border between Galilee and Judaea, and Herod Antipas had been ruling Galilee for two years prior to the annexation of Judaea as a province of Rome.

Luke's Misunderstanding of Censuses:

The idea that a census would require that people travel to their ancestral home towns is patently absurd. If we imagine how this would affect commerce, trade, communications, and the maintenance of law and order, it becomes absolutely clear that no such requirements existed.

The Roman Empire spanned the entire Mediterranean region, and was inhabited by some 60 million people. The road system was an amazing feat of engineering, but it simply couldn't handle 60 million people simultaneously traveling all over the empire at once. The roads would become clogged almost immediately, and people would try to circumvent the congestion by walking off road, trampling fields of crops, knocking down fences, scattering herds and flocks, and so on. The logistical problems with illiterate peasants trying to figure out where they were supposed to go would be an additional complication.

Imagine a system of taxation based on people returning to their ancestral homes, going back a thousand years in the case of Joseph. By this time the Jews were spread out all over the known world. Can we seriously believe that the Romans would have required them to come back to Palestine, carrying everything they owned? How would the tax officials have assessed their land? In The Rise of Christianity the former Bishop E. W. Barnes remarks: "The Romans were a practical race, skilled in the art of government. It is incredible that they should have taken a census according to such a fantastic system. If any such census had been taken, the dislocation to which it would have led would have been world-wide. Roman historians would not have failed to record it."
- Serious Problems With Luke's Census

On a more fundamental level, making people travel away from home in order to conduct a census for the purpose of tax assessment is illogical and counterproductive. The whole idea of such a census is to evaluate how much property each person owns, and for the vast majority of people in the Roman Empire, the only property they owned was their home, the land on which the home was located, and the livestock they tended for sustenance.

The last, but perhaps the most striking, problem with Luke's account is that he claims Joseph had to go to Bethlehem because of his ancestral connection to David. According to the genealogies of Jesus provided by Matthew and Luke, Joseph and David were separated by something like 42 generations, and about 1,000 years of history. The notion that someone(especially someone who who was almost certainly illiterate and uneducated) would have to trace their ancestry back 42 generations and 1,000 years is simply absurd. The vast majority of people today couldn't do this, despite being literate and having access to centuries worth of government records, much of which are available online. I myself have struggled to find my ancestral roots further back than a few generations.

Thus, if you wanted to determine how much each person should be taxed, the last thing you'd want to do is make them leave their homes. Everything you need to assess is in and around the home.

How Censuses Were Actually Conducted:

This part of the story is the easiest to explain. A census was carried out by census takers traveling from town to town, stopping at each house, recording the relevant data (e.g., the name of the head of household, extent of landholdings, number of livestock, acreage of crop land and yields, number of dependents, and perhaps some other information). The whole point of the undertaking was to determine how much each household owed in taxes.

After a citizen had stated his name, age, family, etc., he then had to give an account of all his property, so far as it was subject to the census. Only such things were liable to the census (censui censendo) as were property according to the Quiritarian law. At first, each citizen appears to have merely given the value of his whole property in general without entering into details; but it soon became the practice to give a minute specification of each article, as well as the general value of the whole.

Land formed the most important article of the census, but public land, the possession of which only belonged to a citizen, was excluded as not being Quiritarian property. If we may judge from the practice of the imperial period, it was the custom to give a most minute specification of all such land as a citizen held according to the Quiritarian law. He had to state the name and location of the land, and to specify what portion of it was arable, what meadow, what vineyard, and what olive-ground: and of the land thus described, he had to give his assessment of its value.

Slaves and cattle formed the next most important item. The censors also possessed the right of calling for a return of such objects as had not usually been given in, such as clothing, jewels, and carriages. It has been doubted by some modern writers whether the censors possessed the power of setting a higher valuation on the property than the citizens themselves gave, but when we recollect the discretionary nature of the censors' powers, and the necessity almost that existed, in order to prevent fraud, that the right of making a surcharge should be vested in somebody's hands, we can hardly doubt that the censors had this power. It is moreover expressly stated that on one occasion they made an extravagant surcharge on articles of luxury; and even if they did not enter in their books the property of a person at a higher value than he returned it, they accomplished the same end by compelling him to pay a tax upon the property at a higher rate than others. The tax was usually one per thousand upon the property entered in the books of the censors, but on one occasion the censors compelled a person to pay eight per thousand as a punishment.
- Wikipedia


In Josephus' account of the census in 6 C.E., he explicitly states that those people taxed were assessed of their possessions, including lands and livestock. In other words, the census takers were also the tax assessors. In Egypt these tax assessors went from house to house in order to perform their duties. With this in mind, let us look at a crucial error in Luke's account. Luke has Joseph and Mary making a three-day journey away from their home in Nazareth to register in their alleged ancestral home Bethlehem. But an Egyptian papyrus recording a census in 104 C.E. explicitly states that "since registration by household is imminent, it is necessary to notify all who for any reason are absent from their districts to return to their own homes that they may carry out the ordinary business of registration… "6 Unlike Matthew, who does not mention a census nor Nazareth as Mary and Joseph's home, Luke describes Nazareth as "their own city" (Lk. 2:39). If the rules of this Egyptian census applied to Palestine, then Joseph and Mary should have stayed in Nazareth to be enrolled.
- Serious Problems With Luke's Census

Why Luke Wrote the Account The Way He Did:

Luke was trying to make Jesus' life story conform to the expectations regarding the Jewish Messiah. The prophets had predicted that the messiah would be born of the House of David. David's place of birth is traditionally named as Bethlehem. Thus, Luke needed Jesus to be born in Bethlehem. This was a problem, because it was common knowledge that Jesus was known as "Jesus of Nazareth".

So what's going on here? What's going on is that both Matthew and Luke want Jesus to be born in Bethlehem even though they both know that he came from Nazareth. Both accounts are filled with implausibilities on their own score (a star leading “wise men” to the east - they wouldn't be very wise if they thought that a star could lead them in a straight line anywhere - and stopping over a house; a census of the entire Roman world that could not have happened); and they contradict each other up and down the map.

My view is that neither story is historical, but that both have an ultimate objective to explain how Jesus could be the messiah if he was from Nazareth instead of Bethlehem. So they (or their sources) came up with stories to get him born in Bethlehem. These stories are meant to show that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Micah 5:2, and Matthew himself indicates in clear terms, by quoting the very prophecy.

And so what conclusion can we draw? To me it seems all fairly straightforward. Jesus was not really born in Bethlehem.

OK then, if not there, where? He came from Nazareth. I can't think of a single good reason to think he wasn't born there.
- Dr. Bart D. Ehrman

Matthew found his own way of addressing this problem - he claimed that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, because his parents lived there, but the family was forced to flee when Herod tried to kill all the newborn boys in the town; after a period of living in hiding in Egypt, the family relocated to Nazareth.

Luke's solution to the problem of Jesus' birthplace was different: according to Luke, the family lived in Nazareth, but had to go to Bethlehem for the census.

While we might take exception to this apparent disregard for historical accuracy, it wouldn't have been a serious problem for people living in the ancient Roman Empire. Keep in mind that people living around the same time as Jesus, or shortly after his death, would have known perfectly well that neither the slaughter of infants nor the census had taken place in the manner described by Luke and Matthew. They didn't care about the historical inaccuracies, because this kind of writing was commonly understood to be concerned with moral truths, not what we would call "historical accuracy". The moral lesson of a text was independent of its adherence to literal accuracy. The point is more important than the precise details of the narrative.

By way of comparison, the original version of Mark ends with the women going to Jesus' grave, finding his body missing, and being told by an angel that Jesus had been raised from the dead. The last line of the passage says "Being afraid, the women ran away from the place and told no one of what they had seen". The logical problem with this account should be obvious: If the women never told anyone what had happened, how did Mark find out about it?

There are similar issues with Matthew and Luke: In the Garden at Gethsemane, the disciples fall asleep, and Jesus walks away to pray alone. The words of his prayer are recorded in the text, despite the fact that no one was awake to hear them.

This kind of situation is only problematic for us in the modern world, because we have come to value a scientific approach to historical studies. We tend to give precedence to objective accounts of facts, dates, etc, and this is a good thing. But we run into trouble when we expect the ancients to share our views and standards. The ancient Romans lived in a different context than we do today, and it is futile to look for modern values in ancient texts.

Most modern biographies are full of data - names, dates, places, and events - all of which show a concern for factual accuracy. A modern biography, of course, can deal with the whole of a person's life or with only a portion of it. Typically it is concerned with both public and private life and with how the subject both reacts to what happens and is changed by it. In other words, the inner life of the person, his or her psychological development based on events and experiences, is quite often a central component and is used to explain why the character behaves and reacts in certain ways. Thus modern biographies tend not only to inform but also to explain. They also are meant to entertain, of course, and often propagandize as well, especially when they concern political or religious figures.

Most ancient biographies were less concerned with giving complete factual data about a person's life, or a chosen period of it. Research methods were necessarily different, with few surviving documents to go on, and (by our standards) inadequate tools for record keeping and data recovery. Biographers often relied heavily on oral information that had circulated for long periods of time. Indeed, many of them expressed a preference for oral sources, for an obvious (to them) reason: such sources could at least be interrogated (as opposed to written texts)! Modern biographers tend to be leery of hearsay.

If I were to attempt a definition of the Greco-Roman biography, then, it might be something like this: ancient biography was a prose narrative recounting an individual's life, often within a chronological framework, employing numerous subgenres (such as sayings, speeches, anecdotes, and conflict stories) so as to reflect important aspects of his or her character, principally for purposes of instruction (to inform about what kind of person he or she was), exhortation (to urge others to act similarly), or propaganda (to show his or her superiority to rivals).

The Gospels of the NT, as I've indicated, are widely today seen as (religious) biographies, and they need to be read as such (for a convincing and full study of the matter, see Richard Burridge, What Are the Gospels? Comparison with Greco-Roman Biography). We should not expect heavily documented data based on extensive archival research. We might expect them to have a miraculous beginning and end. We might look for descriptions of the subjects divinely inspired teachings and supernatural deeds. We should not look to find anything like character development. Instead, we should look to see how the character (Jesus, in this case) acted and reacted to the various challenges with which he was confronted, demonstrating who he was through his carefully crafted words and impressive deeds. And most especially, we should expect to see important aspects of his character and identity at the outset of the narrative, in the opening scenes of the action - since that is where the distinctive features of a biographical subject are established for the careful reader.
- Dr. Bart D. Ehrman


The simple answer to your question is that censuses didn't work the way Luke seems to think they did.

First of all, I would like to point out that this question should be able to be answered without getting into matters of the validity of Luke. Unfortunately, the question itself expands past the basic question to inquire about Luke's account, though this is an entirely separate question than the main title question given.

Current answers have swapped the main question and sub-question and seem to make the validity of Luke their starting point. It is my intention to first address the question of the procedure for a census. I will then proceed in my second section to address the issues in Luke (which should be an entirely separate question and answer but I will put two answers in one). I will also address the many misunderstandings, incorrect assumptions and faulty logic provided in the other answers about Luke and Matthew's accounts.

Roman Census

We should make it clear that we have little to no information for how the Romans actually performed their censuses. We do have some information on the censuses themselves, their time and results, many times one without the other (a year with no result or a result with no year). But while we have details on how the Romans did it very early on, with ceremony, centuries later and for censuses in foreign provinces we have little information.

Romans began having censuses as far back as the 5th century BCE under Servius Tullius, king of Rome. Wiki

the following passage of Cicero:… can be translated as: "The Censors are to determine the generations, origins, families, and properties of the people; they are to (watch over/protect) the city's temples, roads, waters, treasury, and taxes; they are to divide the people into three parts; next, they are to (allow/approve) the properties, generations, and ranks [of the people];… " Wiki

This is referring to earlier censuses of the Romans themselves (Cicero lived in the early first century 106-43 BCE), but it gives us some insight into the far reaching purposes behind the census.

After a citizen had stated his name, age, family, etc., he then had to give an account of all his property, so far as it was subject to the census. Wiki

Again, we can see the emphasis not simply on wealth, but on the value of property.

By the time of the birth of Jesus, the ceremony of the door to door census was long gone. Certainly not outside Rome itself among the provinces. Wiki

A census was sometimes taken in the provinces, even under the republic. The Emperor sent into the provinces special officers called Censitores to take the census; but the duty was sometimes discharged by the Imperial legati. The Censitores were assisted by subordinate officers, called Censuales, who made out the lists, &c. In Rome, the census was still taken under the empire, but the old ceremonies connected with it were no longer performed, and the ceremony of the lustration was not performed after the time of Vespasian.[Died in 79]

A census edict for Roman Egypt in 104 CE tells us three things:1

  1. That it required people to return to their homes.
  2. That "registration" was involved.
  3. That the prefect appointed a military commander.

All three of these may apply directly to Luke's account as we will see below.

After many of years of civil war in the first century BCE, the practice of regular census and censor appointments had been neglected. However, Augustus changed that,

During the civil wars which followed soon afterwards, no censors were elected; it was only after a long interval that they were again appointed, namely in 22 BC, when Augustus caused Lucius Munatius Plancus and Aemilius Lepidus Paullus to fill the office.

Compare that to Luke 2:1 (ESV)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

In the wider historical context, it seems clear that this decree by Augustus in Luke does not necessarily refer to a singular massive census, but to the reinstatement of regular censuses which had fallen out of practice. At the same time it does give us cause for the specific census by Quirinius mentioned in Luke 2:2. After all, if it was one massive "Augustus' Census" then why would Luke need to specify any further?

Luke's language of "in those days" is idiomatic of an era or period, not of literal days leading up to his account. It may have been Luke's attempt to borrow language from other historical narratives in the Hebrew Torah. See Genesis 6:4, Judges 17:6, Judges 20:27 for cases where "in those days" clearly involves years, not days. It can also mean literal days of course, but such a literal requirement is unwarranted.

Ultimately we can conclude that:

  1. Augustus' decree can see in a larger historical context
  2. Registration of some form would indeed require one return to one's own town.

Do note here that in the Jewish culture, the man's family line takes precedence over the woman's. So the registration would have been for Joseph's home, not Mary's.

Luke's account


Luke 2:2 ESV

This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

If we suppose that Quirinius was taking over the entire province of Syria in the common date of AD 6, he must have held several lesser positions prior in order to be eligible for such a position. 2 The title of Hegemon given to Quirinius here does not demand he be Legatus of the entire province. Perhaps he was serving a lesser position in the area at the time and was involved in the census. His later elevation to Legatus would make him a known name for Luke to reference. At the same time, it would then make sense for Luke to stipulate that this was the first registration by Quirinius.

Furthermore, we have an inscription which speaks of an unnamed official who received many commendations to accompany military success, was proconsul of Asia and was governor of Syria twice.12 Unfortunately, the name of this official is lost, but it very well may have been Quirinius as he fits many of the descriptions. He was well liked by Augustus, had many military successes and was one of four known men to be governor of Syria around that time. There is a time frame unaccounted for from 4-1 BCE which would likely be the duration of this second term. 3 This just so happens to be the prime time frame for the birth of Christ. (Readers who object to this based on Herod's death in 4 BCE should consider that such a date may be a typesetting mistake and the previously traditional date of 1 BCE may be accepted.) 4

Not only that, but we have Roman records placing Quirinius in Asia minor (Rhodes and Armenia) during this time as a military commander, 14 and another record showing that he appointed one of his own men to do a census as far south as Apamea (in Syria). 13 This matches with what we read in the earlier section that military commanders were often assigned this duty. That he also commanded or oversaw a census of Judea with Herod at this time is not beyond reason.

But what about Josephus' date of 6 CE? There is good reason to think that Josephus may have been incorrect to initially accepted the date of 6 CE and later, despite its inconsistancies, continued to support it. In his article JOSEPHUS MISDATED THE CENSUS OF QUIRINIUS, John H. Rhoads makes a compelling argument based on internal evidence from Josephus' writings for the governorship, and census, of Quirinius during the reign of Herod the Great. 6 If Rhoads is correct, a number of these issues would be resolved.

Joseph's return to Bethlehem

Luke 2:3,4

3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David…

Returning to the main question, as we saw in my earlier section, Joseph would have had to return to Bethlehem for a number of possible reasons. The first being that he may have been the primary representative of his family's holdings in Bethlehem. The second being that he was born there (not just some long dead family from there, but Joseph himself). And lastly, the strong possibility that he resided there himself. It was his own town.

Note that this does not mean that Joseph did not "live" in Nazareth as well. Many people have official residencies in one place, but actually live most of the time elsewhere. This is common when it is connected with family, property, or nationality, all of which could apply to Joseph and Bethlehem. I am reminded of a few Canadians I know who live much of the year in the US but maintain their Canadian citizenship. To do so they must return to Canada for a portion of the year. Joseph also would have been legally obliged to return to Bethlehem for a census.

But if Joseph lived there, why did they leave from Galilee?

Quite simply, they were in Nazareth because Mary was from Galilee. Luke 1:26, 27 says,

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,

27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.

Joseph and Mary had only just consummated their marriage, as wedding feasts typically happened in the fall and at the bride's home.7

In Matthew's testimony we read that Joseph learned of Mary's pregnancy during their betrothal period (the roughly year between "engagement" and "consummation") and was considering a quiet divorce/annullment. But after the Angel's visit, Joseph decided to take her as his wife anyway, meaning Mary was likely at least her second trimester by then if Jesus was born between December-February. After the wedding feast the groom would take his new bride home. But considering Mary's condition and the distance to Bethlehem from Nazareth, it is reasonable they did not leave immediately. Perhaps the child was late and they had expected him before they had to travel. Perhaps they needed to wait for spring and the roads to be repaired? We do not know.

Also, we see in Matthew that the family stayed and lived in Bethlehem for up to as many as two years after Jesus was born. Perhaps this was not planned and they just stuck around while Jesus was an infant with Joseph's family around and ended up staying. Or perhaps this was where Joseph had planned to live with his family all along. It is curious to see that after their return from exile to Egypt their first instinct is to return to Bethlehem! It is only because of Archelaus they do not. And so they stay out of Judea and go to Galilee, to Nazareth. Nothing could be more natural, as that was Mary's home town!

So we see that there is nothing unusual about Joseph returning to Bethlehem. There are numerous explanations that fit the chronology and the details given by both Matthew and Luke.

Luke and Matthew do not contradict each other. They certainly focus on different details, but all narration does. All narration also includes time compression, which is how Luke can skip from the Temple to moving to Nazareth while Matthew records a few years worth of events during that time.

Luke includes details about Jesus as a 12 year old, but Matthew does not. Should we then conclude that either Jesus was never a 12 year old or Matthew is wrong? This is clearly not logical! And yet it is the exact same logic used in many criticisms. We would not have a complete picture without both witnesses.

The only real argument, such as the other answers here, that critics have of Luke and Matthew have is an Argument from Silence.

Claiming that we, 2000 years later with limited records and no first or second hand knowledge, know more about the details around the census than Luke did more than 1900 years ago (roughly 70 years later) makes even less sense than a teenager doing some internet research on the Nazi Holocaust (not even 70 years ago) and concluding it was a misunderstanding. 9

I am not necessarily arguing for any one set of the possible solutions I have given. So I understand it may seem confusing when I give multiple possibilities. My objective is to make the readers aware that there are other options besides going out of our way to find things to criticize. I am arguing for a position of caution, of awareness of our ignorance.

Addressing Objections

In (SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH LUKE'S CENSUS)10 the author, N. F. Gier, makes a number of false assumptions and then bases much of his arguments on them.

There is no record of Caesar Augustus' decree that "all the world should be enrolled" (Lk. 2:1). The Romans kept extremely detailed records of such events.

Such a reading of Luke 2:1 would make even the strongest Literalist interpreter cringe. As I showed at the beginning, Luke's phrase "in those days" is idiomatic for a much larger range of years and could easily include Augustus' initial restart of the census program in 22 BCE.

But an Egyptian papyrus recording a census in 104 C.E. explicitly states that "since registration by household is imminent, it is necessary to notify all who for any reason are absent from their districts to return to their own homes that they may carry out the ordinary business of registration… "

Geir only quotes Luke, and selectively at that, when it helps his case. Luke 2:3

And all went to be registered, each to his own town.

Geir ignores that fact that Luke's language here is identical to the evidence he is presenting against him. If Joseph's home was Bethlehem this objection crumbles. So Geir makes an effort to disqualify the possibility of Bethlehem being Joseph's home by quoting Luke 2:39.

And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

Luke skips over Matthew's account of staying in Bethlehem for a time and then fleeing to Egypt. This claim of Nazareth being their "own town" is no stronger than the claim of Luke 2:3 that Bethlehem was Joseph's "own town". One can only suspect why Geir takes 2:39 as conclusive but not 2:3. Also, as was said, Mary's own home was in fact Nazareth, and after a couple of years it became their family's home indefinitely. Looking back in history, it would be natural to refer to Nazareth as their home, because it was, why would Luke need to qualify whether it was both their homes in that year?

Geir attempts to support his dismissal of Luke by saying,

Unlike Matthew, who does not mention a census nor Nazareth as Mary and Joseph's home, Luke describes Nazareth as "their own city" (Lk. 2:39). If the rules of this Egyptian census applied to Palestine, then Joseph and Mary should have stayed in Nazareth to be enrolled.

He claims this despite the fact that Matthew does indeed give Nazareth as the eventual home of Mary and Joseph, after their exile, attempted return to Bethlehem first, but fleeing to Nazareth. (Matt 2:23 "And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth")

Geir continues to display his poor biblical hermeneutics when he cites John 7:41 as proof John did not think Jesus was born in Bethlehem. John is actually recounting what some of the people were saying about Jesus. That they thought of him as from Galilee while knowing the messiah should be from Bethlehem does not indicate John did not know Jesus was born in Bethlehem. It means John was recounting the words of people who did not. That's all. As it says in 7:43 "So there was a division among the people over him." What it does indicate is that Jesus had been living in Nazareth since he was around 2 years old. My mother was born and lived in Puerto Rico for a few years. She is not "from" Puerto Rico. If you ask her she will say she's from a town in California, which is where she grew up.


Luke 2 records for us that the Lord Jesus was born in a city called Bethlehem, the City of David. The account tells us that His earthly parents were from somewhere else and had to go there for some purpose, and His earthly mother had to give birth to Him there.

Why did Mary and Joseph, Jesus' earthly parents, have to go to Bethlehem anyway? Let's take a closer look at that.

A ruler's decree

"And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered." (Luke 2:1-6)

We read in the passage above that as the time drew near for Mary to give birth, Caesar Augustus, the emperor during that time, called for a census to be held.

While I will not delve into how the Romans governed and taxed the Jews or how the Jews treated their lineage and were thus very likely to participate in such a census, we see there that the Roman emperor was able to call all the Jews back to their hometowns through the use of a census. Since Joseph was a descendant of David, he had to go back to Bethlehem to comply with such a command from their ruler.

What many do not notice, though, is that this was done to fulfill a prophecy in Micah 5:2, which says:

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting."

God's hand on the move

Some may not believe it, but God caused this to happen. Since God declared that the Christ will come from Bethlehem, God would make it happen. His word will never fail:

"So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)

And so how did God do this? By causing the emperor to decree a census. Proverbs 21:1 tells us that God can do that:

"The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water He turns it wherever He wishes."

God caused Caesar to call for the census. Take note that the very census that caused Joseph and Mary to come to Bethlehem was the first of its kind to take place.

Friends, Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem because it was God's will for Jesus to be born there. He used earthly people and circumstances to bring about His desired result. This shows His sovereignty over everything.

"But our God is in heaven He does whatever He pleases." (Psalm 115:3).

Why would Jesus' parents travel to their birthplace for a Roman census? - History

Hi there, I noticed the latest tourist info on Bing. Church groups are plugging Bethlehem and the church of the nativity, claiming that this is the genuine spot where Jesus was born.
Bu-t, the Ebionites, (a “Jewish” group/sect, and his first followers) have something quite different to say about where Jesus was born. As I remember from there writings, Jesus was born in Jerusalem.

And, yes, Joshua (=real name of Christ* Heb. Yehoshu’a/Ara. Yeshua/Gr. ‘Iesous) was certainly born in Bet Lechem (Bethlehem), the ancestral city of Dauid (David), during the first census of Quirinius see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census_of_Quirinius. This was what the “wise men of the east” of Yerushalyim (Jerusalem) — 15 miles as the crow flies — in the desert wilderness of Qumran on Shavu’ot (Feast of Weeks) saw on the first day of the week in 6 CE see http://tinyurl.com/mhbba3l. This was confirmed with our local planetarium in Baton Rouge. The “wandering stars” of Jupiter (representative of the Most High/Father) and Venus (representative of the virgin mother) as well as the conjunction with possible occultation of Uranus (representative of the Holy Spirit) and Mars (representative of the Suffering Servant Messiah of Isaiah 53) rose in the east in the constellation Pisces (representative of Israel). After the wise men of the “sect” called The Way (Heb. HaDerech) in Acts and the Dead Sea Scrolls met with Herod Archelaus, this “star” naturally moved from east to south towards Bet Lechem as the evening progressed — just as the Scriptures state.

After eight days, Yehoshu’a was circumcised and the appropriate sacrifices were made for a first-born son breaking the womb in accordance with Torah (=instruction/Law five Books of Moses). After Yosef’s (Joseph’s) vision, the family departed for Egypt. Herod Archelaus was deposed after the “slaughter of innocents” later that year and died in exile in 18 CE see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod_Archelaus. The family returned to Israel when Joshua was 12 years old (18 CE – 6 CE = 12 years) and settled in the city of Nazareth in the region of Galilee. Again, this was as prophesied and as the Scriptures state.

False traditions such as Herod the Great being part of this narrative when he died in 4 BCE and the precepts of men creating the fanciful machinations of the three kings of Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO SCRIPTURAL BASIS! Who doesn’t think that the wise men of The Way in Qumran didn’t have the means to gift Joshua the Messiah (Yehoshu’a HaMachiach) with gold, frankincense, and myrrh after the discovery of the Copper Scroll? See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_Scroll. We have been deceived by the “early church fathers” and “Biblical scholars!”

It’s well past time to set the record straight…

*Note: “Jesus” incorrectly originates from the transliteration of the Latin it is NOT the translation. See the second footnote from Matthew 1:1 in Aramaic (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew 1:1).

False church traditions, the “precepts of men” (manufactured theology), and “doctrines of demons” (assimilated paganism) cloud the truth. For example, most “Biblical scholars” simply discount Christ’s birth narrative from the Book of Luke. But when placed within the context of the Qumran calendar from the Dead Sea Scrolls, not only can one know with GREAT CERTAINTY the month, day, year, and day of the week when Joshua (Yehoshu’a) was born but when John (Yochanan) and He were conceived.

For starters, one needs to review the program entitled “Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas” from when The History Channel actually presented history: https://youtu.be/XSQYX-OB1Rs. Mithraism and Saturnalia were assimilated from pagan Rome that’s where December 25th falsely originated see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithraism, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus, and https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia.

Arguably, the most important quote of “Christmas Unwrapped” occurs at the 7:31 mark: “So if you’re gonna sort through the runes of the Scriptures, Jesus was probably born in the Spring. If the shepherds were out in the fields watching their flocks by night, we’re probably not talking about one of the cold spells at the heart of winter.” — Forrest Church, Minister, All Souls Church

Note: I have no affiliation with this minister or church.

The FACTS unfold as follows, and NO CHURCH currently teaches the truth:

Fact #1: Elisheba (Elizabeth) was six months pregnant in the sixth month concentrate on vv26 and 36. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke 1:26-38&version=NASB

Fact #2: Tsekharya (Zecharias) was a Levite of the order/division of Abijah concentrate on v5. https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=Luke 1:5-7&qs_version=NASB

Fact #3: The mute and shaken Tsekharya returned home immediately after his weekly course was completed, and Elisheba conceived a son. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke 1:8-25&version=NASB

Fact #4: This is the calendar documented in the Dead Sea Scrolls see http://www.haderech.info/DSS/Calendar/QumranCalendar.pdf.

Fact #5: For Elisheba to be six months pregnant in the sixth month, Tsekharya (of the course of Abijah) had to have served in the 12th month. The only time this occurs is from the 14th-20th see Cycle of Priestly Courses… > Course Year 3 of 6 in the Qumran calendar above.

Fact #6: As Tsekharya (and Elisheba) were righteous and walked in ALL requirements and commandments of the Lord (Luke 1:6), he could not have traveled more than a Sabbath day’s journey (2,000 cubits) on the 21st of the 12th month, which was a weekly Sabbath. http://biblehub.com/topical/s/sabbath_day's_journey.htm

Fact #7: The first day that Tsekharya could have returned home (likely Kiriath Arba — aka Hebron — in the hill country of Judah) was the 22nd of the 12th month on the first day of the week. This was the day that Yochanan (John) was conceived.

Fact #8: After Miryam’s (Mary’s) visitation from the archangel Gavri’el (Gabriel) in the sixth month (Luke 1:26), she left IN A HURRY to visit Elisheba. At the moment of arrival, Elisheba was overcome by the Holy Spirit and knew that Miryam had conceived a child. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke 1:39-55&version=NASB

Fact #9: Exactly six months after Yochanan was conceived, Yehoshu’a was conceived. According to the Qumran calendar, that would have occurred on the 22nd of the sixth month on the first day of the week, which is the Feast of New Oil! Sidebar: The Feast of New Oil was also the fourth of four agricultural feasts each occurring 49 days apart, exclusive (i.e., barley, wheat, grapes/wine, and olive oil).

Fact #10: The gestation period for women is 38 weeks from CONCEPTION (not to be confused with LMP) to birth see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy. EXACTLY 38 weeks after Miryam conceived, Yeshoshu’a was born on the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) on the 15th day of the third month on the first day of the week.

So, now we know the month, day, and day of the week of John’s conception and Christ’s conception and birth. Now, for the years.

Fact #11: Yehoshu’a was born in 6 CE during the census of Quirinius see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census_of_Quirinius. For the Scriptural reference, concentrate on v2 see https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke 2:1-20&version=NASB. “Herod” was a dynastic title like Caesar and Pharaoh. The “Herod” at the time of Christ’s birth was Herod Archelaus he was deposed that same year (after the “slaughter of the innocents” in Bet Lechem) and died in exile in 18 CE. When did the “holy family” return from Egypt? When Yehoshu’a was 12 years old (18 CE – 6 CE = 12 years) after Archelaus died.

Sidebar: The only verse in the Gospels that contradicts this account is Matthew 2:22. The earliest extant manuscript containing that verse was from Papyrus 70 from the late third century CE (which is “a fairly reliable text, though it was carelessly written”) see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papyrus_70. The “early church fathers” were already at work destroying the truth!

* Yochanan was conceived on the 22nd day of the twelfth month on the first day of the week in 4 CE.

* Yehoshu’a was conceived on the 22nd day of the sixth month on the first day of the week on the Feast of New Oil in 5 CE — exactly six months from Yochanan’s conception.

* Yehoshu’a was born during the census of Quirinius on the 15th day of the third month on the first day of the week on the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) in 6 CE — exactly 38 weeks from His conception. Sidebar: This is when the “sect” called The Way (HaDerech) in Acts and the DSS made new covenants. Christ’s birth ushered in the ultimate New Covenant! Josephus, a self-described Pharisee (and we know what Christ thought of them in the Eight Woes of Matthew 23), coined the derogatory term “Essenes” (=pious ones).

The truth is out there if one seeks it. Shema, Yisrael!

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (NASB)

Jesus was born on or near Trumpets, not in December as the world believes.
December was the time the sun god was worshiped. Luke 2:8 says there were shepherds in the fields with their sheep. This doesn’t happen in December in Israel
As He came the first time at Trumpets , so will He come the second time at Trumpets 1Cor. 15:52 ,1Thess. 4:15-16.

Boy i tell you people try to nit pick too much I am far from a scholar but it clearly says the romans was doing a Census, everybody had to go back to their place of birth for it, Now it says he was born there but nothing about being raised there,, common sense people my sister was born in New York but raised in Kentucky and in 47 years I’ve never herd her say she was a new yorker..

I failed to see the complication in the birth place of Jesus, he was born in Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecies in Micah 5:2, Isa. 9:6, Ge. 49:10 and Lu. 2:4. Because King Herod was out to kill the young boy Jesus, under divine warning Joseph took Mary and Jesus into Egypt. Hosea 11:1 and Mat. 2: 1-15
When King Herod died Joseph moved to Israel ,settle in the province of Galilee in the town of Nazareth…so for Jesus to be called The Nazarene or Jesus of Galilee was the same thing

What is also interesting is that Luke was a poor researcher of dates. Herod the Great died in 4 BC but Quirinius only became Legate (“governor”) of Syria in 6 AD, ie, 10 years later. In addition, Rome usually carried out their censuses every five years which would mean Joseph would have to go to Bethlehem every five years. This makes it more reasonable that it was the Bethlehem near Nazareth that was the actual census site. The village in Judea was substituted because the writers wanted to “prove” a link to King David and to an Old Testament prophecy. However, the bottomline is the actual PHYSICAL location does NOT matter: you either believe Jesus was divine or you don’t.

Did anyone read the Bible? Joseph did not live in Bethlehem, he WENT there for the census and to be taxed! His home was Nazareth. Why is that so hard to understand? Stop trying to tinker with Scripture – don’t add to it or take away from it. And the locals in Bethlehem didn’t know Joseph or his wife and baby and did not make a shrine of that stable. It was lost to time. Jesus would not WANT a shrine made of a cave anyway. HE IS THE FOCUS of our faith, not “things”.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, being that time after time, the spade of true, scientific archeology has unearthed and confirmed one Biblical fact after another. For example, for many, many years “the scholars” ridiculed the Bible’s reference to King Sargon. “No such person in all of history,” they said. But the remains of Sargon’s palace were finally found. So, again, for me it works like this. If a thousand scholars … all of equal intelligence, education and credentials … say the Bible is wrong about something, I will put my money on the Bible every time. That goes for the creation account, the rib story and Noah’s ark too. Proof? Sorry you skeptics and scoffers, you don’t get proof. God reveals Himself and confirms His Truth to ALL those who truly seek Him. Had any of them actually done that, they would have had their proof a long time ago.

CB: indeed there is no issue here, then Bible is very clear and here is a quote from the Gospel of Matthew:
But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
Mat 2:20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.
Mat 2:21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
Mat 2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
Mat 2:23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Questions are possible, why Betlehem, Nazaret and Galilea are used. New Testament however supposes that Jesus was unknown mostly. There were many dwelling-places on inform. Parents were from Nazaret but Jesus was born in errand way. Mary may been also family of David? In Galilea Jesus perhaps helped his father in building of Roman town. In some maps there is Bethlehem near Nazaret. Young Jesus remowed to Cabernaum of Galilea!Matthew 4:13, John 2:12.

According to a famous rabbi arizal in tzfat (galilee) jesus was buried in galilee. Clearly we see he was buried in jerusalem according to nt. Maybe jerusalem isnt where we think it is?

“Biblical scholarship has recently called the identification of Bethlehem as Jesus’ birthplace into question…”

All I have to say to those scholars… 1 Corinthians 1:27 (KJV) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty

Yeshua (“Ioseus, Jesus”) was born in a separate room or temporary dwelling as per ancient Jewish tradition. Birthing women, the same as menstruating ones, went to a separate tent or area till the period of their confinement was over. In this case is quite possible that if Yeshua was born in a skéné, Strong’s 4633, or succa (temporary dwelling) during Succot or the Feast of Tabernacles, Miriam (“Mary”) would have been confined to the succa for 7 days then on the 8th day have Yeshua circumcised and through her purification rites as per instructed in Lev 12. We should also keep in mind that birthing woman had midwives to assist her, not her husband. All this would not take away from placing Yeshua in a watering trough made from a carved stone. He would not have been born in close proximity to animals that is just not kosher at all.

According to Matthew’s infancy narrative, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not because of a census (which is Luke) but because Mary and Joseph lived there. And after the angel informed him of Herod’s death, Joseph settled in Galilee rather than returning to his home in Bethlehem in Judea.

[…] Jesus might fit into the cultural context of Nazarean social, political, and economic life. (Recent scholarly work question the veracity of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus.) Jesus also should fit into the […]

Hello sons and daughters of the one true living God, please pray always that you shall be accounted worthy to escape the hour of temptation that is going to come upon the whole world. And pray always that you shall also be accounted worthy to stand in the presence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

I believe that the story of Bethlehem in Judea is the Story of John the Baptist and that it was taken from him like other stories in the New Testament. Jesus was born in the Galilee at least ten years after the Birth of John, and was his Disciple until the Beheading of John the Baptist for being a Treat to Roman Rule and Jewish Religious Order. Jesus only followed on the Destiny of John the Baptist and was Crucified six months after his Beheading during the Jewish Passover and Survive the Crucifixion and died on the Day of Ascension 40 days later! What we believe is the Story of Saul of Tarsus who saw the Spirit on the Way to Damascus but not the Real Jesus! It could have been the Spirit of John the Baptist?

So many `mysteries` are blown out of all proportion, presumably as the `bread and butter` of authors and writers who wish to make a name for themselves, inflate their ego, keep an organisation afloat etc.
This is surely one of those – anyone with half a brain can give a reason for this `stupendous, staggering, faith destroying` puzzle that may well tear the Church apart.
Sorry, naughty me!
If one is void of Spirit quickened faith then these `hurdles` will be constantly looming and no amount of education and `insight` will clear them – but constantly crash them.

We ALL love GOD and his son who died for our sins. Doesn’t matter where he was born, who’s right, who’s wrong. We can all agree he came to earth, died and rose again to be seated at the right hand of OUR father! Love you my brother’s and sister’s.

Nazareth is where Jesus was brought up, raised as a child. Therefore, where he was raised, not born, why he is called a Nazarene.

Bethlehem in Hebrew means “Bakery”. There where many towns in ancient Israel given this title: Bethlehem of Judea, Bethlehem of Samaria and Bethlehem of Galilee…just a few of miles from Nazareth. This is probably the Bethlehem where Jesus was born.

The birth narrative in Matthew is a cosmic myth and cannot be taken seriously. It centers around Orion, Cancer, Virgo and Sirius (Star of the East). It wanted to show Jesus was born during the reign of Herod among other things. Luke is a more convincing tale, having Jesus born in 7 AD. It uses a vision to connect to Herod instead. Probably both narratives are false. If Jesus was historical, most likely he was born in Jerusalem. In order to deify him, his birth narrative had to connect him to a birth in Cancer with Virgo as his mother. This was common of that age for most great men. Virgo is also the sign for bread or “house of bread” which would place his earthly birth in Bethlehem.

Psalms 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. I agree with tfm above, we walk by faith and not by sight. We know that in the end, many will be deceived by lying signs and wonders. I know in my heart and mind that Jesus is the Son of God, that He lived, died and was resurrected and now ministers in the heavens as my high priest. Study is good…but be sure what you are studying is God’s revealed knowledge and not that of man.

It has nothing to do with a town called Nazareth.

Jesus was called the Nazarene, in Math 2:23, because he was of the Nazarene sect. Saul was also identified as a Nazarene, in Acts 24:5. And if Saul was an aspiring apostle, then you can be sure he was a (lowly) member of the same sect as Jesus.

And do remember that Queen helena of Adiabene was also a Nazarene, according to the Talmud. And it was Helena who saved Jerusalem from famine, and furnished the Temple of Jerusalem. These Nazarenes were very wealthy, and closely linked to the Judaean establishment. See the book ‘King Jesus’.

To me it does not matter where Jesus was born, only that he was and died for our sins.

Some websites provide some more tantalizing evidence

It’s interesting that Nicholas mentioned the year 6 B.C.E. as the year of Jesus’ birth, that’s in sync with someone’s dating of a census imposed on the population by the Romans under the procurator Coponious:
:”Under his [Coponious’] administration, a Galilean, named Judas, incited his countrymen to revolt, upbraiding them as cowards for consenting to pay tribute to the Romans and tolerating mortal masters, after having God for their Lord. This man was a sophist [that is, a teacher] who founded a sect [that is, a school of thought] of his own, having nothing in common with the others. Jewish philosophy, in fact, takes three forms. The followers of the first school are called Pharisees, of the second Sadducees, of the third Essenes. (Josephus, Jewish War 2.117-118)” (“The Historical Jesus” by John Dominic Crossan, p. 112).
This was the same Judas the Galilean mentioned in Acts 5:37, whose revolt was put down by the Romans and so here is the backdrop of violence at the time of Jesus’ birth that is attributed to Herod nearly a century later in the gospel of Matthew. Notice how the reference to Rachel is made in connection with Bethlehem in Matthew 2:16-18 that is based on Jeremiah 31:15 and that Rachel is the matriarch who died while giving birth on the way to Ephrath that was Bethlehem (Genesis 35:19). In the non-canonical “Protoevangelium of James,” Mary gives birth to Jesus in a cave near Bethlehem, being alone while Joseph searched for a midwife. The dark cave is symbolic of Rachel naming her son Ben-oni (son of my sorrow, trouble or vigor) and according to the book of Zohar (1:175a), “she named him Ben Oni, for the harshness of judgement decreed against her” (“The Zohar” by Daniel Matt, vol. 3, p.58). The naming of the child by his father as Ben Yamin (son of the right hand, or son of the south) was interpreted by the Jewish mystics to mean the attribute of loving-kindness since the right hand symbolizes mercy while the left hand symbolizes the attribute of judgement. To mitigate the severity of judgement a third attribute combines judgement with mercy and this is known as “rahamin” or compassion. This term is also used in the Koran as “Al Rahamu” or “(God) Most Gracious,” and in the Muslim version of the Jesus birth narrative, Mary gave birth beneath a palm tree under which was a rivulet flowing (Koran 19:23-25) and the source for this tradition is likely Christian since there was a structure known as a martryrium that was later converted to a mosque at the site where Mary was believed to have rested on the way to Bethlehem:
“In about 456, according to Cyril of Scythopolis, a church was built to mark the spot where Mary dismounted and sat down outside of Bethlehem. It is called the Kathisma, ‘seat’ or ‘chair’ in Greek” (“Where Mary Rested” by Hershel Shanks, BAR, Nov./Dec. 2006, p. 46).
If I remember correctly, a book called “Ra’aya Meheimnu” (The Faithful Shepherd), that like the book of Zohar, appeared in the late 13th century. It made a connection between Rachel giving birth near Ephrath and the attribute of “rahamin” by linking it to the word for womb, “rachem.” I believe this is significant in that there is an inter-faith connection that relates to the location of Ramat Rachel where there was a a royal Judahite palace in the late 8th century B.C.E. that had pillars flanking the entrances upon which proto-Aeolic capitals resembled palmettes, that is, palm fronds which have not yet opened. Perhaps this is symbolic of worldly government being in a potential state: “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld” (Hebrews 11:1).

“If Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem, why is he called a Nazorean…?” Puzzling indeed. I’m glad “biblical scholarship” is devoting time to finding an answer to this pressing mystery. Oh wait, here it is! 󈬅 And he [Joseph] rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.” Matthew 2:21-23. So he was called a Nazorean because his father “took the child and his mother” and went to live there. Mystery solved!

As to the fleeing from Bethlehem and subsequent journey into Egypt because King Herod had ordered the killing of all male infants born in Bethlehem, there is absolutely no references of this in any Histories written of his reign by any author from that period or later, Judean or otherwise.

All other atrocities that were ordered by, and occurred during the reign of Herod the Great were recorded in the Histories of his reign. This alone should make you ask why was the slaughtering of the male infants of Bethlehem never mentioned or recorded. The answer is, because it never occurred during the time of King Herod’s reign.

The Census of Quirinius was the enrollment of the Roman provinces of Syria and Judaea for tax purposes taken in 6/7 CE. The Census was taken during the reign of Augustus (27 BCE – 14 CE), when Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria, after the banishment of Herod Archelaus from the Tetrarchy of Judea and the imposition of direct Roman rule. One account of the birth of Yeshua (Jesus), in the Gospel of Luke, connects it to this census.

Notice the year of the Census, 6/7 CE (or AD if you prefer). This would have been 12 years AFTER the birth of Yeshua, as all now agree the the year of his birth was 6 BCE (or BC). As no Census was taken that year, there was no reason to travel to Bethlehem for any reason.

The stories of his birth in Bethlehem were later additions to the Gospels by Christian writers in order to prove Yeshua’s identity as being the Messiah, since his birth was foretold to occur there. This has been shown to be the case by intensive research into the matter by countless Biblical Scholars.

el Profeta Miqueas dijo y tu Belen de Juda, de ninguna manera eres la menor entre los clanes de Juda, porque de ti saldra un caudillo que apacentara a mi pueblo Israel!, y los Santos Evangelios lo confirman!

Born in Bethlehem (Matt.2:1) taken to Egypt (Matt.2:13) raised in Nazareth (Matt.2:23). All in a single chapter! So what is the problem? Rom.3:4.

There is no doubt at all that Yāwshu (Jesus in Phoenician/Aramaic) was born in the Galilean Bet(h)-Lahm (House of Bread) possibly inside a grotto at the foot of Mt. Carmel, very close to what was later known, Nazareth (form Nazar or Nazir: consecrated to God Ēl, since he is Immanu-Ēl).
The Judean Bethlehem did not exist at the time of Jesus in Archeological term, and relating Jesus to Bethlehem of Judea was not but an attempt to link Jesus to David by Matthew, something Jesus would have definitely refuse. Besides, there is no extra-Old Testament reference for David’s existence.
To read more about where was Jesus born and who was he in reality, check out the Bestselling & Ground-Breaking book, «Jesus the Phoenician»

Karim El Koussa,
Bestselling & Award Winning Lebanese Author

If they fled from Bethlehem because of Herod – if it were me as the mom at least – I would make certain is to say my baby was from anywhere but there – totally makes sense to me… Probably not the only instance of kids that age in that precise era either

Jesus was born in Jerusalem as noted by his tomb in Talpiot, Jerusalem. reflecting a Jerusalem native.

Micah,a prophet of God, foretold that this child would eventually become a ruler and that he would be born in “Bethlehem Ephrathah.” (Micah 5:2) At the time of Jesus’ birth, there were two towns in Israel that were named Bethlehem. One was situated near Nazareth in the northern region of the country, and the other, near Jerusalem in Judah. Bethlehem near Jerusalem was formerly called Ephrathah. Jesus was born in that town, exactly as the prophecy foretold!—Matthew 2:1.
It was natural and not particularly unusual to speak of Jesus as the Nazarene, since from infancy (less than three years of age) he was raised as the local carpenter’s son in the city of Nazareth, a place about 100 km (60 mi) N of Jerusalem. The practice of associating persons with the places from which they came was common in those days.—2Sa 3:2, 3 17:27 23:25-37 Na 1:1 Ac 13:1 21:29.
Frequently Jesus was referred to, in widely scattered places and by all kinds of persons, as the Nazarene. (Mr 1:23, 24 10:46, 47 14:66-69 16:5, 6 Lu 24:13-19 Joh 18:1-7) Jesus himself accepted and used the name. (Joh 18:5-8 Ac 22:6-8) On the sign that Pilate had placed on the torture stake he wrote in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek: “Jesus the Nazarene the King of the Jews.” (Joh 19:19, 20) From Pentecost 33 C.E. forward, the apostles as well as others often spoke of Jesus Christ as the Nazarene or as being from Nazareth.—Ac 2:22 3:6 4:10 6:14 10:38 26:9.http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200274021

Yeshua (Jesus) was Hebrew.
Yeshua was not born at Christmas
Christ mas was is & will always be pagan.
YeHoVaH God All Mighty wants all of us to get w/ His calander celebrate his sacred feast days.
check out truth YouTube Michael Rood /Rood awakening/119 ministry/Arthur Baily House of Israel.The truth will set you free.

There are claims that there was more than one Bethlehem, and one of those towns was located in the Galilee. Those who were guiding Constantine’s mother through the area were not adverse to making things up as they went along.

Isn’t it possible he was born in Bethlelam, and during infancy or at a very young age, they moved to Nazareth?

The Trip To Bethlehem For The Census

122:7.2 It was not necessary that Mary should go to Bethlehem for enrollment—Joseph was authorized to register for his family—but Mary, being an adventurous and aggressive person, insisted on accompanying him. She feared being left alone lest the child be born while Joseph was away, and again, Bethlehem being not far from the City of Judah, Mary foresaw a possible pleasurable visit with her kinswoman Elizabeth.

122:7.3 Joseph virtually forbade Mary to accompany him, but it was of no avail when the food was packed for the trip of three or four days, she prepared double rations and made ready for the journey. But before they actually set forth, Joseph was reconciled to Mary's going along, and they cheerfully departed from Nazareth at the break of day.

122:7.4 Joseph and Mary were poor, and since they had only one beast of burden, Mary, being large with child, rode on the animal with the provisions while Joseph walked, leading the beast. The building and furnishing of a home had been a great drain on Joseph since he had also to contribute to the support of his parents, as his father had been recently disabled. And so this Jewish couple went forth from their humble home early on the morning of August 18, 7 B.C. , on their journey to Bethlehem.

122:7.5 Their first day of travel carried them around the foothills of Mount Gilboa, where they camped for the night by the river Jordan and engaged in many speculations as to what sort of a son would be born to them, Joseph adhering to the concept of a spiritual teacher and Mary holding to the idea of a Jewish Messiah, a deliverer of the Hebrew nation.

122:7.6 Bright and early the morning of August 19, Joseph and Mary were again on their way. They partook of their noontide meal at the foot of Mount Sartaba, overlooking the Jordan valley, and journeyed on, making Jericho for the night, where they stopped at an inn on the highway in the outskirts of the city. Following the evening meal and after much discussion concerning the oppressiveness of Roman rule, Herod, the census enrollment, and the comparative influence of Jerusalem and Alexandria as centers of Jewish learning and culture, the Nazareth travelers retired for the night's rest. Early in the morning of August 20 they resumed their journey, reaching Jerusalem before noon, visiting the temple, and going on to their destination, arriving at Bethlehem in midafternoon.

122:7.7 The inn was overcrowded, and Joseph accordingly sought lodgings with distant relatives, but every room in Bethlehem was filled to overflowing. On returning to the courtyard of the inn, he was informed that the caravan stables, hewn out of the side of the rock and situated just below the inn, had been cleared of animals and cleaned up for the reception of lodgers. Leaving the donkey in the courtyard, Joseph shouldered their bags of clothing and provisions and with Mary descended the stone steps to their lodgings below. They found themselves located in what had been a grain storage room to the front of the stalls and mangers. Tent curtains had been hung, and they counted themselves fortunate to have such comfortable quarters.

122:7.8 Joseph had thought to go out at once and enroll, but Mary was weary she was considerably distressed and besought him to remain by her side, which he did.

When Was Jesus Really Born?

The Christmas story has become synonymous with the date, December 25. Whether you’re listening to carols or looking at nativity scene imagery, the idea that Christmas is His birthday is everywhere. But what has become popular belief isn’t exactly true to history.

The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke are the only two accounts of Jesus’ birth in the New Testament, and both gospels show different angles of the story. Luke begins in Nazareth and Matthew focuses solely on events in Bethlehem. Both aren’t particularly detailed in terms of a calendar date, which makes determining Jesus’ birthday quite tough. The writers of the gospels rarely tell you when things happened and the time of year.

We Know That Shepherds Were in the Fields Watching Their Flocks at the Time of Jesus’ Birth

Scripture tells us that, “[Mary] 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. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” (Luke 2:7-8). But shepherds were not in the fields during December. Luke’s account suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. In December, Judea is cold and rainy, so it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night. The weather would not have permitted shepherds watching over their flocks in the field at night.

Jesus’ Parents Came to Bethlehem to Register in a Roman Census

The census or enrollment which according to Luke 2:1 was the occasion of the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, is connected with a decree of Augustus, embracing the Greek-Roman world. Luke carefully distinguishes the census at the time of Jesus’ birth as “first,” in a series of enrollments connected wither with Quirinius or with the imperial policy inaugurated by the decree of Augustus. Because temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor conditions, the census was not taken in winter. This time of year didn’t permit it.

Winter Would Be a Difficult Time for Mary to Travel

Mary was traveling the long distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem which was about 70 miles. Winter would likely be an especially difficult time for a pregnant Mary to travel such a long distance. The world of Mary and Joseph was a difficult and dangerous place, one whose harsh conditions were not fully chronicled in the Gospel accounts of their travails. Writers of the gospels of Matthew and Luke “are so laconic about the [Nativity] event because they assume the reader would know what it was like,” said James F. Strange, a New Testament and biblical archaeology professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa. “We have no idea how difficult it was.” Strange estimates that Joseph and Mary likely would have traveled only 10 miles a day because of Mary’s impending delivery.

The time of year that Jesus was born continues to be a huge subject of debate, particularly the month of Jesus’ birth. Many biblical scholars believe Scripture points to the fall of the year as the most likely time of Jesus’ birth. In 2008, astronomer Dave Reneke argued that Jesus was born in the summer. Reneke told New Scientist the Star of Bethlehem may have been Venus and Jupiter coming together to form a bright light in the sky. Using computer models, Reneke determined that this rare event occurred on June 17, in the year 2 B.C. Other researchers have claimed that a similar conjunction, one between Saturn and Jupiter occurred in October of 7 B.B., making Jesus an autumn baby.

Theologians have also suggested that Jesus was born in the spring, based on the biblical narrative that shepherds were watching over their flocks in the fields on the night of Jesus’ birth – something they would have done in the spring, not the winter. The Bible nowhere points to Jesus being born in mid-winter. Unfortunately, nobody really knows exactly when Jesus was born.

The main focus of the New Testament writers is not the date of Jesus’ birth, but that God the Father has sent His son at just the right time in all of history to accomplish His saving purposes and thus fulfill His promise. The apostle Paul proclaimed, “When the set time had dully come, God sent His son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Galatians 4:4-5). And we read in the Gospel of Mark, “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the news of God. ‘The time has come,’ He said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Matthew 1:14-15).

While it is interesting to know Jesus’ birth from a historical perspective, it is theologically irrelevant and holds very little importance when looking at the bigger picture. It is less important that we know when it happened and more important that we know that it happened and why it happened. The Bible is clear on this.

Jesus’ Birth and Childhood

             Luke gives an accurate time frame for the birth of Jesus that is based on several historical events. It took place during the reign of Caesar Augustus when Quirinius governed the province of Syria. More specifically it occurred during the year Caesar Augustus had ordered a census to be taken. Our problem is that we don’t know when the census took place. We are too far removed from the event and no records of this census have been found. Such is often the case. Time destroys many records. Until recently we did not know the names of most of Rome’s governors.

             Caesar Augustus reigned from 31 B.C. to A.D. 14. Quirinius, a Roman Senator, was acting as consular in Syria as early as 12 B.C. By 6 A.D., he was appointed governor of Syria, as recorded by Josephus. “So Archelaus' country was laid to the province of Syria and Cyrenius [or Quirinius], one that had been consul, was sent by Caesar to take account of people's effects in Syria, and to sell the house of Archelaus.” [The Antiquity of the Jews, 17.13.5] However, notice that Luke doesn’t call him a governor Luke only mentions that Quirinius was governing (ruling) at the time Jesus was born. It is likely that Quirinius was in charge either of the region, or a least the census, prior to his appointment as governor of Syria.

             A book called The Deeds of Augustus notes that Augustus had ordered three major censuses in his empire and that many local census were also conducted. This coincides with Luke’s mention that this was the first census conducted under Quirinius. Thus, Luke’s account implies that more than one census took place. At times you will find people claiming there is a historical contradiction between Quirinius’s census in 6 A.D. and the death of Herod the Great between B.C. 4 and 2 (some date his death to be April 3 B.C.). The truth is that nothing says that the 6 A.D. was the first census. An earlier census could easily have taken place before Quirinius was appointed governor, but while he was in chargein some capacity in Syria.

             For the census, Joseph was required to go to his birthplace to register. The requirement to return to one’s native home is not unusual. A census in Egypt in A.D. 104 stated, “From the Prefect of Egypt, Gaius Vibius Maximus. Being that the time has come for the house to house census, it is mandatory that all men who are living outside of their districts return to their own homelands, that the census may be carried out . ” Another census in A.D. 48 also mentions people returning to their homelands: “I Thermoutharion along with Apollonius, my guardian, pledge an oath to Tiberius Claudius Caesar that the preceding document gives an accurate account of those returning, who live in my household, and that there is no one else living with me, neither a foreigner, nor an Alexandrian, nor a freedman, nor a Roman citizen, nor an Egyptian. If I am telling the truth, may it be well with me, but if falsely, the reverse. In the ninth year of the reign of Tiberius Claudius Augustus Germanicus Emperor.”

             One source speculates that the census was not a tax census, but a census of people pledging loyalty to the current emperor. This would explain the phrasing “all went to be registered” in Luke 2:3.

“A sixth reason for placing the nativity of Jesus in 3 or 2 B.C. is the coincidence of this date with the New Testament account that Jesus was born at the time when a Roman census was being conducted: "There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the [Roman] world should be registered" (Luke 2:1). Historians have not been able to find any empire-wide census or registration in the years 7-5 B.C., but there is a reference to such a registration of all the Roman people not long before 5 February 2 B.C. written by Caesar Augustus himself: "While I was administering my thirteenth consulship [2 B.C.] the senate and the equestrian order and the entire Roman people gave me the title Father of my Country" (Res Gestae 35). This award was given to Augustus on 5 February 2 B.C., therefore the registration of citizen approval must have taken place in 3 B.C. Orosius, in the fifth century, also said that Roman records of his time revealed that a census was indeed held when Augustus was made "the first of men" – an apt description of his award "Father of the Country" – at a time when all the great nations gave an oath of obedience to Augustus (6:22, 7:2). Orosius dated the census to 3 B.C. And besides that, Josephus substantiates that an oath of obedience to Augustus was required in Judea not long before the death of Herod (Antiquities I7:4I-45). This agrees nicely in a chronological sense with what Luke records. But more than that, an inscription found in Paphlagonia (eastern Turkey), also dated to 3 B.C., mentions an "oath sworn by all the people in the land at the altars of Augustus in the temples of Augustus in the various districts." And dovetailing precisely with this inscription, the early (fifth century) Armenian historian, Moses of Khoren, said the census that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem was conducted by Roman agents in Armenia where they set up "the image of Augustus Caesar in every temple.''. The similarity of this language is strikingly akin to the wording on the Paphlagonian inscription describing the oath taken in 3 B.C. These indications can allow us to reasonably conclude that the oath (of Josephus, the Paphlagonian inscription, and Orosius) and the census (mentioned by Luke, Orosius, and Moses of Khoren) were one and the same. All of these things happened in 3 B.C." [Chronos, Kairos, Christos: Nativity and Chronological Studies presented to Jack Finegan, Jerry Vardaman and Edwin Yamauchi, editors. Eisenbrauns:1989, pages 89-90]

Some object that this particular census could not have included Judea because Herod the Great was operating a semi-independent kingdom under Rome. The Jewish people would not be considered Roman citizens and would not be included in the oath census. Regardless of the objection, what is shown is that during this time frame Quirinius did rule in various capacities in the Syrian region, Augustus did have censuses taken for a variety of reasons and in various regions, and some of those census did require people to return to their birthplaces. That we, two thousand years later, are having problems pinpointing the exact census is a very minor point.

The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:4-7)

             Both Joseph and Mary, being of the lineage of David, traveled to their home town of Bethlehem. It wasn’t a convenient time as Mary was close to her time of delivery. It is here that we learn that Joseph and Mary are still engaged, but they have not yet completed their marriage. It is likely that this did not occur until after the child was born (Matthew 1:24-25).

             The demand that everyone go to their birthplace put a strain on the temporary accommodations in the small town of Bethlehem. While waiting for the census to be completed, Joseph and Mary were staying in a stable. A manger served as the child’s cradle. Mary wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him there. This is a foreshadow of a later event when Mary, along with others, wrapped the body of Jesus in strips of cloth before laying him in a tomb (John 19:40). The common practice of that day was to bathe a newborn, rub his skin with salt, and then wrap them in strips of cloth.

God’s Announcement of the Birth of His Son (Luke 2:8-20)

             Luke’s mention of the shepherds living out in the fields, watching over their flocks at night, helps to define the time of the year Jesus was born. Sheep were kept in pens and feed from stored grasses during the winter months, but when the weather was warm and dry (from mid-April to mid-October), the shepherds took them out into pastures to allow them to graze. Distances to towns were too great to move the flocks into pens each night, so the shepherds would stand guard over the flocks in the pastures.

             An angel appeared before them, glowing with the glory of God, causing fear in the shepherds. The angel reassures them and tells them that the birth of the Savior, who is the Anointed Ruler, has occurred in the city of David – Bethlehem, which was the birthplace of David. It was joyous news for all people, not just Israel. In the angel’s message is another foreshadowing of future events. The word “bring” translates the Greek word for evangelizing, the bearing of good news. The “good tidings” is another way to translate the gospel. And the news was for all people. Jesus later tells his disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

             As if being told by an angel of God wasn’t enough, the angel offers them proof: they would find a newborn baby, wrapped in his swaddling clothes, in a manger. Bethlehem was a small town, but finding a newborn baby would not be unusual. However, finding a newborn in a manger would not be an everyday occurrence.

             The angel is then joined by a multitude of angels singing praises to God. He has offered a token of peace between Himself and straying man (John 3:16 I John 4:10). It was a fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 57:19).

             When the angels departed, the shepherds decide to see this wonder for themselves. The fact that they were willing to leave their flocks in the middle of the night shows the strength of their belief in what they saw and heard. Without delay they went to Bethlehem and found Mary, Joseph, and the baby just as the angel had told them.

             With such news, they could not keep it to themselves. They told everyone they could and, thus, the event becomes another historical marker. People would make note of the fact because shepherds would not leave their flocks at night for a made up story. Nor would it be easy to explain how they knew in the fields that there was a newborn baby and where to find the child. Therefore, people marveled at the message and remembered it. Most notably Mary kept these things in her heart to ponder. These statements offer early readers identifiable sources to confirm the truth of what was written.

The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:21-35)

             Eight days after the child’s birth, he was circumcised and given the name Jesus as told to both Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1:21 Luke 1:31).

             A woman, giving birth to a son, was considered unclean for forty days because of the blood that was spilt during the birth (Leviticus 12:2-4). (A daughter’s time was longer because there was no circumcision and additional shedding of blood involved. Leviticus 12:5). At the end of her time, she was required to offer up two sacrifices to God (Leviticus 12:6). A sin offering to complete the days of uncleanness. It was offered whenever unintentional sin was involved (Leviticus 4:2-3), such as becoming unclean. A burnt offering demonstrated dedication to God (Leviticus 1:3-4, 9). It was wholly given, completely burnt, to illustrate complete dedication to God. A lamb was required for the sin offering and a pigeon or turtledove for the burnt offering. However, allowances were made for those who could not afford a lamb (Leviticus 12:8). We learn that Joseph and Mary are poor because less expensive option was chosen.

             Being the firstborn child of Mary meant that Jesus was dedicated to God (Exodus 13:2). The parents of a firstborn child was required to redeem (“buy back”) their firstborn (Numbers 18:15-16). The Levitical priesthood was the replacement for Israel’s firstborn children (Numbers 3:12-13).

             Because they were near Jerusalem, the family went to the temple to fulfill their obligations. While there, a man named Simeon met them. This godly man was a prophet of God. He was told that he would see the Christ before his death. His meeting of Mary and Joseph was not by chance the Spirit lead him to enter the temple. He took up the child from his parents and blessed God while giving another prophecy. He testified that this child was God’s salvation for all people, a light for the Gentiles, and a glory to Israel (Isaiah 9:2 42:6 60:1-3). First by angels and now by Simeon, the scope of the Savior’s mission was declared from the beginning of his life on earth.

             Joseph and Mary marveled at the words. Not that they did not already know because this was what God’s angel had told them before his birth. What was amazing is that apparently complete strangers recognized who was their infant son.

             Simeon then warned Mary that things would not go smoothly with this child of hers. He would cause great turmoil in Israel and become a point of derision (Isaiah 8:14 Psalm 22:6-8). As a result Mary will also suffer great grief (John 19:25). Because of who Jesus is, people would be forced to make a choice and their choice will reveal the nature of their hearts (John 8:42-47 15:22-24).

The Prophecy of Anna (Luke 2:36-38)

             Coming right on the heels of Simeon was a prophetess named Anna. She had been married for seven years, but after her husband’s death, she dedicated herself to service in the Temple. Such women are mentioned in Exodus 38:8 and I Samuel 2:22. She was now 84 years old.

             She not only added her thanksgiving to God, but she began spreading the word of the Messiah’s arrival to others. It is interesting that God chose humble shepherds in a remote area of Judea and an elderly widow to be the first messengers of the gospel.

The Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12)

             At some point, wise men from the East (most likely Medea) arrived in Jerusalem seeking out the King of the Jews. Because when they found Jesus, he is described as a young child and not a babe, and because Herod in seeking to destroy Jesus orders all children two and under to be killed, we conclude that the wise men probably arrived about one to two years after Jesus’ birth.

             The Medes were noted astrologers and wise men (I Kings 4:30). They saw a star while in their eastern country that indicated a great king was born in Israel. Such was hinted at in Numbers 24:17. Thus, the third group announcing the Messiah are not even Israelites, but Gentiles! This too was prophesied in Isaiah 60:3.

             Herod was not happy concerning this news and when Herod wasn’t happy, no one in Jerusalem was happy. History tells us that Herod was paranoid about being overthrown. He murdered his two older sons in 7 B.C. because he was convinced by the instigation of another son that they were plotting to overthrow him. Antipater, who encouraged his father’s murder of his older brothers, was also killed in 4 B.C., just before Herod’s death, for plotting to overthrow his father. It caused Augustus to joke that he would rather be Herod’s pig than one of his sons. As he approached the end of his life, Herod slaughtered thousands on the least hint that a rebellion might be breaking out.

             Part of his paranoia might have come from the fact that he wasn’t an Israelite. He was a descendent of Edom. His father aided Julius Caesar during the conquest of Judea and Herod was a friend of Anthony and Octavian (who later became Caesar Augustus). Because of his friendship, he was given the title “King of the Jews,” but it took him three years of hard fighting take hold of his “kingdom.” Now, in his old age, foreigners come announcing the birth of a new King of the Jews. Such news would strike Herod’s deepest fears.

             Thus Herod gathered his advisors, the chief priests and scribes, and asked them where it was prophesied that the Christ would be born. They cited Micah 5:2 as stating it would be Bethlehem in Judea.

             Herod did not want word to get out that it was possible that the Messiah had been born, so he quietly recalled the wise men and asked when they saw the star appear. Such information would give him an idea how old the child was. He did tell the wise men where to look for the Messiah, but it was in hopes of having them do the work for him. He asked that they stop on their way home to let him know where the child was so he could also worship him.

             As the wise men left, they noticed something strange. The star appeared to be going before them. Stars are relatively fixed objects. They don’t generally appear to move. Yet this one did and as they entered Bethlehem it appeared above one particular house. Again, think of the stars you see at night. Can you sight one that appears to be directly over your house and not your neighbors? Obviously, the Lord’s hand was behind this wandering star.

             Notice that Mary and Joseph are no longer in a stable. Some time has passed and they are now living in a house. Entering the house, the wise men fell down to worship Jesus and presented Mary and the child gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh each a costly commodity. It is because three types of gifts were given that the tradition of three wise men arose. However, the Bible says nothing about the number of men who came, nor the number of gifts given. We only know that three types of gifts were given by the wise men.

             Notice, too, that Jesus is described now as a young child and not a babe. The Greek word paidion is used in classical Greek to apply to a child up to seven years old. It is used in the New Testament to refer to the 8 day old Jesus (Luke 2:21) and of a child old enough to believe in the Christ (Matthew 18:2,6). There is nothing in Matthew’s account indicating that the wise men visited Jesus shortly after his birth. Instead, we see indications that some time has elapsed.

             Warned by a dream from God, the wise men did not return to Jerusalem and Herod. They returned to their homeland by a different route.

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus' Escape into Egypt (Matthew 2:19-23)

             Meanwhile Joseph has another dream. An angel warns him that Herod will seek to kill Jesus. He is told to take his family to Egypt and remain until told to return. Recall that Joseph and Mary are very poor, but the gifts just left by the wise men gave them the finances to quickly leave Judea and move to Egypt. Once again we see the faith of Joseph. He got up that night and left with his family, not even waiting until morning to begin the long journey.

             Eventually Herod caught on to the fact that the wise men were not coming back. Not knowing who the child was, he sent soldiers into Bethlehem and the surrounding area with orders to kill any male child two years old or less. Assuming that Herod padded the age to make sure he killed the Christ, we can guess that the wise men saw the star about a year prior. It is likely that Jesus was about a year old at the time of the wise men’s visit.

             Unknowingly, Herod fulfilled another prophecy concerning the Christ this one found in Jeremiah 31:15. The pain of the children’s deaths is depicted as Rachel’s sorrow. Rachel, Jacob’s beloved wife, died shortly after giving birth and was buried near Bethlehem and thus makes a fitting image of mother weeping for her children (Genesis 35:16-20). On her death bed she had named her child “son of my sorrow” though Jacob changed his name to “son of my right hand.”

             The slaughter didn’t make it into the history books. After all, it occurred only in a small region and was just one of many murders issued by the paranoid King Herod.

             Not long thereafter, Herod died and an angel appeared to Joseph again to tell him that it was now safe to return to Israel. As they journeyed, Joseph heard that Archelaus, Herod’s son, now ruled in Jerusalem. Herod had divided his kingdom into four parts and willed each part to a different son. Archelaus, Herod’s eldest surviving son, had almost as bad of a reputation as his father. At one Passover, he had three thousand people put to death (Josephus, War of the Jews, 2.6). Eventually Augustus Caesar became disgusted with Archelaus’ cruelty and disposed him (Josephus, Antiquites of the Jews, 17.13). Until then, we can understand Joseph’s concern about entering a region run by Archelaus. God also confirmed his unease in yet another dream. Joseph decided not to return to Bethlehem but to journey further into Galilee and back to their original town of Nazareth.

             Matthew points out that this move also fulfilled prophecies. But notice that Matthew is not quoting one particular prophet, he is giving a general summary of what multiple prophets have said. Some readers confuse Nazarene with Nazirite. These are two different word. The former means someone from Nazareth, the later means someone under the Nazirite vow of Numbers 6. Jesus was not under the Nazirite vow, otherwise he would not have been able to partake of the fruit of the vine at the last supper (Nazirites are forbidden from eating anything related to grapes). A more reasonable case is made that the name Nazareth might be derived from the Hebrew word for “branch.” There are numerous prophecies concerning the Messiah being called the Branch, such as Isaiah 11:1. The best case, however, is that the region of Galilee had a poor reputation (John 7:52) and the town of Nazareth had an even poorer reputation (John 1:46). The Hebrew word netzer, from which Nazareth is derived, refers to the small twigs that are worthless (Isaiah 14:19 John 15:21). Such was deemed an appropriate name for a small village of little use. There are several prophecies dealing with people despising the Messiah, such as Isaiah 53:2-3 and Psalms 22:6. The Messiah's coming from a despised area was foretold in Isaiah 9:1-2. It is possible that Matthew is stating that by coming from Nazareth the foundations for Jesus’ eventual rejection were being laid.

             Thus, three apparently conflicting prophecies were resolved: that the Messiah would come from the famed city of David, Bethlehem that God would call him out of the mighty nation of Egypt and that he would be despised for where he originated all neatly fit together.

Jesus’ Childhood (Luke 2:39-52)

             Luke’s account jumps from Jesus’ presentation at the temple to Joseph and Mary’s return to Nazareth. The fact that Luke did not use the events of the wise men and the family’s flight into Egypt in his account does not mean that Luke wasn’t aware of them or that there was a conflict. In any account there must be a selection of the various events to tell the intended story for the intended audience. Matthew wanted the Jews to understand how the seeming conflicting prophecies fitted together. Luke, writing to a Greek audience, dwelt on early signs of Jesus’ great wisdom.

             Many years are summed up in Luke 2:40. Jesus grew physically, became spiritually strong – that is, his moral character and his ability to reason -- and was filled with wisdom. As he grew the favor or grace of God was seen upon him. Here was the ideal man moving up through childhood. Here is the fulfillment of Isaiah 11:2-3.

             The story jumps to an event when Jesus was twelve years of age. Each year, Jesus and his parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, as was commanded in Deuteronomy 6:16. Again we see the character of Joseph and Mary because they went yearly despite the fact that they were poor. Luke is not indicating that this was Jesus’ first Passover in Jerusalem, but according to Jewish tradition twelve was the age a boy became a “son of the law.” His obligations to follow the law were first recognized at this age. It should be noted that the term for his age has changed again. He is now “the boy Jesus” or pais in Greek, which refers to a male child not yet an adolescent.

             Joseph and Mary stayed for the entire eight day feast and then returned for home. As was common practice in those days, people traveled in large groups for safety. Children, as they are want to do, often bounced between friends and relatives and large groups do not move at the same rate. Therefore, the fact that Joseph and Mary lost track of Jesus during the bustle of the beginning of the trip is understandable. Nor is there implication that Jesus purposely stayed behind. It wasn’t until they reached the evening stop over that his parents realized that Jesus was not with any of their relatives or friends.

             Jesus’ parents immediately set out to return to Jerusalem, another day’s journey. It appears they spent another entire day scouring Jerusalem for their boy. They eventually found him in the temple talking with the learned men, asking them questions and listening to their answers. Not at all what most parents would expect from their twelve year old son. Nor was it expected from these great teachers of the law. Luke tells us that they were astounded by his depth of understanding shown in his answers to their questions.

             Amazing as the sight was, Jesus’ parents wanted to know why he disappeared. “How could you do this to us?” Mary wanted to know why Jesus didn’t show more concern for his parent’s feeling. “Look, your father and I have been anxiously looking for you.”

             Though not unsympathetic, Jesus pointed out that if they had considered it, they should have known exactly where to find him. They, of all people, knew Jesus’ purpose in the world. They should have known that he would be in the temple working toward God the Father’s goals. They should have known that God would watch over him there was no need to be anxious.

             Yet Jesus’ words did not make sense to them at that time. They were full of concern for their son and his mention of “his Father’s business” would have led them to think about Joseph’s carpentry work. How carpentry related to talking law in the temple, they could not grasp. But Mary thought about it later and Luke cites her as a source.

             Jesus returned to Nazareth with his parents and was the ideal son, obedient to his parents. It is likely that Jesus learned the carpentry trade from his father, as was common for children in those days to do. One thing we do know is that he wasn’t sent off to rabbinical schools for an education (John 7:15 Luke 4:22). Even though he was gifted, his parents would not have been able to afford the fees.

             Nothing else is told to us about Jesus’ childhood, other than that he continued to increase in wisdom while he continued to physically grow. He had the favor of God that is he was morally excellent and God watch over him. And he had a good reputation in his community – he certainly wasn’t a hoodlum in his younger days (Proverbs 3:3-4 Romans 14:18). He was the unusual ideal child.

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By: Biblical Archaeology Society Staff

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5. Jesus Was Probably Not Born in December

“Then why do we celebrate Christmas in December?” We can thank Emperor Constantine for that in the fourth century. Many times Christians would hold holidays during the same times as pagan festivals for a wholesome alternative. In this case, Christmas occurred during the winter solstice.

While Christmas has been celebrated on December 25 for nearly 1700 years, Jesus was not actually born in December. In fact, he was not born in winter at all! In the year 336 AD Emperor Constantine established Christmas to be on the winter solstice, which is December 25.

However, Jesus most likely had a spring birth, thanks to the mention in Luke 2 of shepherds abiding in their fields. During springtime, sheep gave birth to lambs, hence why they would stay out at night as well in case a night birth occurred.

But we cannot say for sure exactly when Jesus’ birth happened, as shepherds did stay out in the fields year-round.

History of Bethlehem

Bethlehem was mentioned around 1350 BC in the Tell al-Amarna letters, from the Egyptian governor of Palestine to the Pharaoh Amenhotep III. It was depicted as an important staging and rest stop for travelers from Syria and Palestine going to Egypt. The letters also signify that it was a border city of mid-Palestine and an outpost looking out towards the desert. The Philistines had a garrison stationed in Bethlehem because it was a strong strategic point. They entered the land of the Canaanites, mingled with its people and settled in the southern coasts between Jaffa and Gaza. The Philistines had achieved military supremacy over the greater part of the country around 1200 BC, and called it Palestine.

The narrative of the Old Testament mentions Bethlehem in the first book of the Bible when Jacob, son of Abraham, and his family were journeying to the city of Hebron passing by Bethlehem (Ephrata) (Genesis 35: 16-19). There, his wife Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, and he buried her by the side of the Bethlehem Road where her tomb has been a shrine to this day: "And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem." In that time, Bethlehem was a small, walled town erected on a hill in the northern part of the present town of Bethlehem. The name of Bethlehem (Ephrata) "the fruitful" itself suggests a pastoral and agricultural life. The tale of Ruth, the Moabite, and Boaz suggests an atmosphere of idyllic rusticity that is still obvious today (Ruth 2-4). Ruth's grandson was King David of whose lineage Christ was born.

A decree of Caesar Augustus, ordering the taking of a census in all the provinces of the Roman Empire, brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Micah, spoken 750 years before: "And thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Juda: out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler of his people"(Mikha 5:2). When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Herod the Great was a vassal of Rome and in 6 AD Palestine was incorporated in the imperial province of Syria. Emperor Hadrian in 135 AD profaned the sanctity of the Grotto of the Nativity and turned it into a pagan shrine.

From Hadrian's time until the reign of Constantine, the population worshipped Adonis in the cave where the infant Jesus was born. Palestine, consequently, was officially pagan as was the whole Roman empire until 313 when Constantine proclaimed Christianity as the religion of the state. In the year 325 the Bishop of Jerusalem, St. Maccarius, took the opportunity of acquainting the Emperor Constantine with the neglected condition of the Holy Places in his diocese. Thus, the Emperor ordered the construction, at public expense, of monumental churches to commemorate the three principal events of Jesus' life: Nativity, Crucifixion and Resurrection. One of these was a church enshrining the scene of the Nativity. Christian traditions were so clear and deeply rooted that there was no problem in locating the correct place. Among the trees, not far from the village, was a cave which the local people and their parents had known for generations to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The cave was made the center of a scheme for the church and work began the following year (326 AD)

Toward the end of the 4th century, Bethlehem became a very important center of monastic life. In 384 AD St. Jerome arrived from Rome with a group of pilgrims. He came to Bethlehem to continue his work in the atmosphere of monastic life. He devoted himself to the tremendous task with which Pope St. Damasus had entrusted him, namely to review all old Latin translations of the Bible and produce a new version, the Vulgate, based on original Hebrew and Greek texts. Two Roman ladies of noble origin, St. Paula and her daughter Eustochium moved to Bethlehem in 386 to lead an ascetic life along with St. Jerome. They founded the earliest monastic community in Bethlehem which has lasted, with some interruption, to this day. Paula used her riches to build a hospice for pilgrims and two monasteries, one for St. Jerome and his followers, and the other for herself and the nuns.

When the Roman empire was divided in 395 into two empires, eastern and western, Palestine was attached to Byzantium, the eastern part. In the following years the life of the Latin-speaking communities of Bethlehem faded from view, eclipsed by the growth and more spectacular austerities of an eastern monasticism. As a result, the town of Bethlehem prospered and its population increased with the spread of churches, monasteries, and convents in Bethlehem itself, and the surrounding areas. In AD 527 Justinian became Emperor in Constantinople. Under his reign Palestine witnessed a time of prosperity and expansion for its churches and for monasticism. Afterwards, in 529, the Samaritans rebelled against the Byzantine state and overran the country, plundering and destroying as they went. Churches and monasteries, towns and villages were all pillaged or gutted by fire. The walls of Bethlehem and its main church were destroyed. The revolt was soon quelled. At the same time the church was rebuilt in a grand style. The town wall and the defenses of the monasteries were repaired.

A few years later (614) the country was invaded by the Persians. According to an oral tradition, they did not cause any damage to the Church of the Nativity because they saw the pictures of the three Magi dressed as Persians, carrying gifts to Christ at his birth. Outside and above the roof of the narthex, the gable end overlooking the atrium was decorated with a mosaic scene of the birth of Christ with his mother holding the Child to her breast. In 637, soon after his entry into Jerusalem, the Muslim Caliph 'Umar ibn al-Khattab visited Bethlehem. The relations between 'Umar and the ecclesiastical authorities were friendly and a written agreement was granted to the Patriarch Sofronious. The tolerant policy was maintained by Umar's successors till 1009. In that year a fanatic Caliph, al-Hakim, the one who had destroyed the Holy Sepulcher, declared a real persecution against Christians. However, Bethlehem was once more spared because al-Hakim wished to continue receiving the tribute Christians had been paying since Umar's day.

The conquest of Palestine by the Crusaders in the year 1099 began a new chapter in the history of Bethlehem. Within a short time the Franks took over from the local clergy and installed a community of Augustinian canons under a prior who conducted services in the Latin language. The Crusaders reconstructed the town and made it a fortified outpost. They remained for about two centuries during which the town of Bethlehem prospered. Some of them intermarried with the local people and settled down. The 12th century opened Bethlehem to European social and ecclesiastical influences to an unprecedented extent. From every country, pilgrims could now visit the Holy Places bringing with them offerings to the church and prosperity to the merchants whose shops were built in front of it. In 1100, the Crusader King Baldwin succeeded in having Pope Pascal II establish a bishopric in Bethlehem.

In 1187, Saladin the Ayyubite captured Bethlehem. Although the Church of the Nativity was unharmed, the relations with the West were abruptly cut off, and the Latin Bishop and Canons were forced to leave. The life of the local people was seriously affected by the expulsion of the Latin community and the temporary interruption of the stream of western pilgrims on which the Bethlehemites primarily depended. However, because of two treaties, one signed by emperor Frederick II and Malek el-Kamel, sultan of Egypt, and the second by the king of Navarre and the Sultan of Damascus, Bethlehem was in Christian hands from 1229 to 1244. The Canons of St. Augustine could return to their convent and the Basilica was once more opened to the Christian world.

In 1250, the Ayyubid Dynasty was replaced in Egypt by Circassian Mamlukes, and the accession of the fanatical Sultan Rukn ed-Din Beibars brought an end to the tradition of tolerance that helped safeguard the Holy places. In 1263, Beibars ordered the dismantling of the towers and walls of Bethlehem. The church itself was not damaged, which gave rise to a legend that a serpent bit the marbles and cracked them, so that the Sultan could not take them to Cairo, as he wished. However, the Christians were banished from Bethlehem.

In the following century, western influences were reinforced monks from the order of the Franciscan Friars Minor were established in Bethlehem in the old Augustinian priory, where they still reside. The Franciscan Fathers had acquired possession of the grotto in 1347 and also, the right to administer the Basilica and to care for its maintenance. The Franciscan Custos, Giovanni, obtained from the Sultan Qaita Bey consent to renovate the roof of the Church of the Nativity. A few years later European influences at Bethlehem were set back by the expulsion of the Catholic Latin clergy for the second time.

With the Turkish occupation in 1517, the period of conflict between the Franciscans and the Greeks for the possession of the Sanctuaries began. Consequently, the Basilica passed from the Franciscans to the Greeks according to the favor enjoyed at the Sublime Porte (Ottoman Caliph) by the nation which supported the communities (Catholics or Orthodox). Under the Turkish regime the question of ownership and rights in the Holy Places took on an increasingly political and even international dimension. The first question in the dispute between France and Russia was concerned with the possession of the key to the main doors of the Basilica. The second was concerned with the mysterious removal, one night in the year 1847, of a silver star bearing a Latin inscription, which was put into a slab of marble beneath the altar of the Nativity. However, between the 17th and 18th centuries Bethlehem was on the verge of modern times. Long and continuous contact by the local people with travelers from Western Christendom had familiarized them with the manners and tastes of Western countries, and improved their economic condition.

Palestine was under Egyptian rule for ten years beginning in 1831. However, during this period, robbery and violence were too common, and the murder of a favorite of Ibrahim Pasha in 1834, resulted in the destruction of the Moslem quarter of the town and the disarming of the whole population. By 1841 Bethlehem was again under Turkish rule. The result was unemployment, oppression, compulsory military service and heavy taxes imposed on the inhabitants. This oppressive situation forced the people of Bethlehem to emigrate abroad, especially to the Americas, to earn a living and improve their life-style. By the end of the 19th century, several European missionaries came to Bethlehem and built schools.

The Turkish rule ended in 1917, and Palestine was placed under the British Mandate. At that time, the inhabitants of Bethlehem numbered about 8000. When the British withdrew from Palestine in 1948 the population of Bethlehem was 11,696. Wars between Arabs and Jews continued and the latter occupied most of Palestine and declared their state 'Israel'. The town of Bethlehem remained unoccupied and towards the end of 1948, the union of the eastern part of Palestine and Trans-Jordan was declared under the name of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. A second war between the Arabs and Israelis broke out in 1967, and the latter occupied the remainder of Palestine including Bethlehem. Bethlehem remained under the Israeli occupation until December 22, 1995 when the Palestinian Authority took over in compliance with the Oslo Accord of 1993.

In September 1993 Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accord. Among its provisions, the accord called for a five-year interim period of Palestinian Autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza at the end of which the final status of the occupied territories will be decided. However, the implementation of the accord met setbacks resulting from the intransigence of the Israeli extremists.

Where was Jesus born?

The Bible chronicles Jesus Christ’s birth in Matthew 1:18&ndash25 2:1&ndash12 Luke 1:26&ndash38 and 2:1&ndash20. At the time of Mary’s pregnancy, a decree by Caesar Augustus went out that “all the world should be registered” (Luke 2:1). This meant that every person in the Roman Territory was required to return to the city of their ancestors to be counted in a census.

Joseph lived in Nazareth at the time but needed to travel south to the region of Judea, “to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David” (Luke 2:4). Naturally, Joseph took his betrothed, Mary, to go with him to be counted as a member of his family. Thus, the young couple ended up in the small town of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth.

This location aligns with the prophecy foretold by Micah, proclaiming that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).

Because so many had returned to Bethlehem for the census, the small city was overflowing with people. There was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn, which forced them to take refuge in the only place available&mdasha shelter for animals. (Although the Bible never mentions animals being present at the birth of Christ, Luke does say that the baby Jesus was laid in a manger&mdashand the presence of a manger strongly implies the presence of animals.)

Traditionally, the “inn” referred to in Luke 2:7 is thought to be a kind of commercial hotel. And the place where Mary and Joseph took shelter was a stable somewhere in the vicinity. However, we don’t know for sure if that was the case, because the Greek word translated as “inn” (kataluma) can also be translated as “guest room.” This translation would lead us to envision more of a private home filled with guests, plus a separate area used to house the family’s animals.

Sometimes the place for animals was located on the lower level of a house, away from where the people lived. So, when Luke refers to “no room in the kataluma,” he could have meant there was no room on the upper level, which was already full of sleeping visitors or family. Archaeological findings have also revealed homes that merely had a wall separating the front of the house from the back, where animals were kept safe. Both of these floor plans imply an indoor animal shelter connected to the house in some way. Regardless, there was a manger or feeding trough in the place where Christ was born, and that was used as a resting place for the newborn Jesus, as stated in Luke 2:7.

There is also a theory that the shelter in which Jesus was born was a place in the northern part of Bethlehem called Migdol Eder. This was a watchtower with a place underneath that shepherds used during the lambing season to shelter the newborn lambs that would later be used as sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple. The prophet Micah, who foretold Bethlehem as the place of the Messiah’s birth, also mentions Migdol Eder: “As for you, watchtower of the flock [Hebrew, Migdol Eder], stronghold of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem” (Micah 4:8). This theory is used to explain why, when the heralding angels gave the sign that the baby would be “wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger,” the shepherds seemed to know exactly where to look. And it would be apropos for the Messiah to be born in the same place where the sacrificial lambs were born.

Whether the actual location of Jesus’ birth was an indoor animal shelter, a separate barn, or a tower used for lambing, the Bible is clear that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born in a humble setting in the town of Bethlehem.

Watch the video: Γιατί ο Ιησούς Χριστός είπε Εγώ είμαι το φώς του κόσμου (January 2022).