The sign (Lk 2:12-2:12)

“This this will be

A sign

For you.

You will find

A child

Wrapped in

Bands

Of swaddling cloth,

Lying in a manger.”

 

καὶ τοῦτο ὑμῖν σημεῖον, εὑρήσετε βρέφος ἐσπαργανωμένον καὶ κείμενον ἐν φάτνῃ.

 

Luke said that the angel told the shepherds that there would be a sign for them (καὶ τοῦτο ὑμῖν σημεῖον) in order to find this baby child (εὑρήσετε βρέφος) that would be a Savior, Messiah, Christ, and Lord.  This baby child would be wrapped in bands of swaddling cloth (ἐσπαργανωμένον), lying in a manger (καὶ κείμενον ἐν φάτνῃ).  Instead of the sign of a star, as in Matthew, chapter 2:2, they were told about a place with a manger.  These shepherds did not bring any gifts with them, unlike the Magi with their gold, frankincense, and myrrh in Matthew, chapter 2:11.

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The shepherds (Lk 2:8-2:8)

“In that region

There were shepherds

Camping out

In the fields.

They were

Keeping watch

Over their flock

At night.”

 

Καὶ ποιμένες ἦσαν ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τῇ αὐτῇ ἀγραυλοῦντες καὶ φυλάσσοντες φυλακὰς τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν ποίμνην αὐτῶν.

 

Luke had a special emphasis on these common shepherds in the fields, while Matthew had the important Magi get a special sign or star.  Luke said that in that same region of Bethlehem (ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τῇ αὐτῇ), there were shepherds (Καὶ ποιμένες ἦσαν) living or camping out in the fields (ἀγραυλοῦντες).  They were keeping watch over their flock of sheep at night (καὶ φυλάσσοντες φυλακὰς τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν ποίμνην αὐτῶν).  They were doing their jobs as shepherds watching their sheep at nighttime.  Perhaps there was a connection between these shepherds and the young shepherd David in the fields of Bethlehem in 1 Samuel, chapter 16:6-13.  This may have been Luke showing concern for the common people as expressed in these shepherds.

Yahweh speaks (Am 1:2-1:2)

“Amos said.

‘Yahweh roars

From Zion.

Yahweh utters his voice

From Jerusalem.

The pastures

Of the shepherds wither.

The top of Carmel

Dries up.’”

Amos used the same phraseology as the prophet Joel, in chapter 3 of his work, that Yahweh would roar and speak from Zion and Jerusalem. However, instead of being a refuge, here Yahweh had a warning about the pastures of the shepherds withering away, while the mountain top of Mount Carmel would dry up.

Yahweh will search for his scattered sheep (Ezek 34:11-34:12)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I myself

Will search

For my sheep.

I will

Seek them out.

As shepherds seek out

Their flocks,

When they are

Among their scattered sheep,

So will I

Seek out my sheep.

I will rescue them

From all the places

To which

They have been scattered

On a day of clouds,

On a day of thick darkness.’”

Yahweh God said, via Ezekiel, that he was himself going to search out for his scattered sheep. He was going to be like the shepherds with their flocks. Just as they went looking for their lost sheep, Yahweh was going to do the same. He was going to seek out his sheep and rescue them from all the places that they had been scattered during the cloudy days of thick darkness.

Yahweh protects Mount Zion (Isa 31:4-31:5)

“Thus Yahweh said to me.

‘As a lion

Or a young lion

Growls over its prey,

They are not terrified

By the shouting,

When a band of shepherds

Is called out against it.

They are not daunted at their noise.

Thus Yahweh of hosts

Will come down To fight

Upon Mount Zion,

Upon its hill.

Like birds hovering overhead,

So Yahweh of hosts

Will protect Jerusalem.

He will deliver it.

He will spare it.

He will rescue it.’”

Yahweh, via Isaiah, issues an oracle about protecting Mount Zion, Jerusalem. Just like growling lions standing over their prey are not scared by the shouting noise of the shepherds, so too Yahweh will come down to the holy hill of Mount Zion in Jerusalem. He will be like a bird hovering overhead. He will protect, deliver, spare, and rescue Jerusalem. There is no question about that.