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.

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The marriage contract (Tob 7:11-7:13)

“However, Tobias said.

‘I will neither eat nor drink anything

Until you settle the things that pertain to me.’

Raguel said.

‘I will do so.

She is given to you

In accordance with the decree in the Book of Moses.

It has been decreed from heaven that she be given to you.

Take your kinswoman.

From now on you are her brother.

She is your sister.

She is given to you from today and forever.

May the Lord of heaven, my child,

Guide and prosper you both this night.

May he grant you mercy and peace.’

Then Raguel summoned his daughter Sarah. When she came to him he took her by the hand and gave her to Tobias, saying.

‘Take her to be your wife in accordance with the law

And the decree written in the Book of Moses.

Take her!

Bring her safely to your father!

May the God of heaven make your journey

Prosperous with his peace.’

Then he called her mother. He told her to bring writing material. He wrote out a copy of the marriage contract. This said that he gave her to him as wife according to the decree of the Law of Moses.”

Tobias said that he was not going to eat or drink anything until this matter was settled. The marriage contract is between Tobias and Raguel, and not between Sarah and Tobias. Raguel makes all the arrangements. Raguel agreed to give his daughter to Tobias according to the Book of Moses. It is unclear what Book of Moses this is referring to. The only possible reference might be the marriage of Isaac in Genesis, chapter 24. After all the arrangements were made, finally the daughter Sarah appeared. Then there was the famous giving of the hand of the daughter from the father to the groom, the man. In this case, Sarah had no consent. She simply did what her father wanted her to do. In fact, the mother was not even present. She was called in to get some writing materials. Then Raguel wrote out the marriage contract according to the Law of Moses. This clearly was a legal written contract with nothing to do with romantic love. Tobias was to bring his new bride home to his father.