The Christmas scene birth of Jesus (Lk 2:7-2:7)

“Mary gave birth

To her first-born son.

She wrapped him

In bands

Of swaddling cloths.

She laid him

In a manger,

Because there was

No place

For them

In the inn.”

 

καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ, διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.

 

Luke explained in great detail about the birth of Jesus, his clothing, and the manger, that has become the famous Christmas scene that most have come to know and love.  Matthew, chapter 2:1, had no details like this in his story about the birth of Jesus, while Mark and John had no infancy narratives at all.  In fact, Matthew said that the Magi visited Mary and the child in a house in chapter 2:11, not a manger.  Luke reported that Mary gave birth to her first-born son (καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον).  Did that imply that there were other children?  Within the Jewish tradition, the first-born male child would be dedicated to God with special legal and family rights, as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:2, where Yahweh got the first-born of everything, as a consecration to God.  In Numbers, chapter 3:12, the Levites take the place of the first born as a dedication to God.  In Deuteronomy, chapter 21:17, the first born had all the rights versus the other children.  Mary wrapped the baby Jesus with bands of cloth or swaddling clothes (καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν), as it is often called.  These tight bands of cloth kept the arms and legs of the newborn from wailing away, while also keeping the child warm.  Then Mary laid him in a manger (καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ), because there was no place for them in the lodging inn (διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι).  This manger (ἐν φάτνῃ) was a feeding trough for horses and cattle.  Thus, Jesus was born in a place where animals would feed.  He then would offer himself as the bread of life.  Apparently, they were in a barn because there were no appropriate lodging places for a pregnant expecting woman.  There was no indication that Joseph had other relatives in Bethlehem where they might stay.  Just by coincidence, I am posting this blog on December 24, 2018, Christmas Eve.

The story of Judas Maccabeus (2 Macc 2:19-2:22)

“This is the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers. This is about the purification of the great temple and the dedication of the altar. Further there is an explanation of the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator. There were appearances that came from heaven to those who fought bravely for Judaism. Although few in number, they seized the whole land and pursued the barbarian hordes. They regained possession of the temple famous throughout the world. They freed the city. They re-established the laws that were about to be abolished. The Lord with great kindness became gracious to them.”

For the first time, we have a biblical author tell us what he is going to do. This style is based on the custom of Greek historians. He summarized what he was going to do. This is the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers. They purified the Temple and dedicated the altar. They fought wars with King Antiochus IV and his son, King Antiochus V. There was heavenly help for the Jews. Although small in number, they chased the barbarian hordes. They took possession of the Temple and freed the holy city of Jerusalem. They reestablished the laws because God was kind to them. This so-called historical work has a clear Theo-centric basis. God was on their side.

The importance of fire to Moses and Solomon (2 Macc 2:9-2:12)

“It was also made clear

That being possessed of wisdom,

Solomon offered sacrifice for the dedication

And completion of the temple.

Just as Moses prayed to the Lord,

Fire came down from heaven

And devoured the sacrifices.

So also Solomon prayed,

And the fire came down

The fire consumed the whole burnt offerings.

Moses said.

‘They were consumed

Because the sin offering had not been eaten.’

Likewise Solomon also kept the eight days.”

There is no question that the wise King Solomon offered a great sacrifice for the dedication and completion of the Temple in 1 Kings, chapters 5-9. When Moses prayed, the Lord sent fire from heaven to devour the sacrifices as in Leviticus, chapter 10. The same thing happened to King Solomon who also had an 8 day celebration.