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 birth of Solomon (Wis 7:1-7:6)

“I also am mortal.

Like everyone else,

I am a descendant

Of the first-formed child of earth.

In the womb of a mother,

I was molded into flesh,

Within the period of ten months,

Compacted with blood,

From the seed of a man,

Within the pleasure of marriage.

When I was born,

I began to breathe the common air.

I fell upon the kindred earth.

My first sound was a cry,

As is true of all.

I was nursed with care

In swaddling clothes.

No king has had a different beginning of existence.

There is for all

One entrance into life.

There is one common way out.”

This author proclaims the human male mortality (ἄνθρωπος) of Solomon in the first person singular (ειμι). He was a mortal child of the earth like everyone else. He became flesh (σὰρξ) in his mother’s womb (κοιλίᾳ μητρὸς), where he had been 10 months since they used the lunar 28 day month calendar. He came from the seed of a man (ἐκ σπέρματος ἀνδρὸς) within a marriage. After birth, he began to breathe the common air (ἀέρα) that we all breathe. He was on the same ground and nursed in the same swaddling clothes like everyone else. A king (βασιλεὺς) does not come to exist in a different kind of way than everyone else. Everyone has the same entrance (εἴσοδος) and the same exit (ἔξοδός) to life.