MYTH 4: JESUS WAS BORN IN A BARN
Wait! That’s a myth? I love barns! Barns have history! But we again look to the exact wording. The Bible does not mention a stable, a barn, a cave, or any other enclosure. One just assumes if there is a manger, it would be in an enclosure for animals. Right? Well, I don’t know.
Let’s read EXACTLY what the text DOES say in Luke 2:
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
One type of building is mentioned. The one that had no room for them—the inn. The word here for “inn” is the same word used for the “upper room” that Jesus used for the Last Supper. Usually, it is thought to be a spare room in the house of a family member. But with a census being taken, and by law citizens had to return to their own cities to register, Bethlehem must have been crowded.
Some say they could have stayed in the “lower room” shared with the animals. Possibly. Some conjecture they would have stayed in a cave, perhaps with animals, because the region is full of caves.
The Church of the Nativity claims to be constructed on the very spot—a cave—where Jesus was born. But I think not. First, it was built by Constantine 300 years after Christ was born. That’s a long gap with room for error.
Then, Constantine supposedly had built it on a site where the Roman emperor Hadrian was said to have planted a grove and worshiped Adonis, the lover of Aphrodite on that same location, perhaps to get rid of the Jesus story altogether. I find it more likely that Constantine built his Church of the Nativity on that site to squelch the Roman gods.
What we do know is that the Old Testament speaks of Bethlehem and maybe gives a clue.
2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.20 And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.21 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.
One theory is that Joseph and Mary may have sought shelter in the Tower of Edar, or the Tower of the Flock. While it is not there today, it was a watchtower where specially trained shepherds would raise perfect lambs intended for sacrifice. It was just north of Bethlehem on the way towards Jerusalem.
They could have sheltered there, in the ceremonially clean Tower of the Flock where cloths for binding sheep were plentiful—swaddling clothes. The area was cleaned twice daily. It was a protected place. A manger, or feeding trough, would have been there as well. All that we REALLY know is that the only landmark was a manger. Was it inside or outside? One thing is sure. The shepherds knew where to look.
There is one more possible clue to suggest that Jesus was born in the Tower of the Flock from Micah 4:
8 And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counsellor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.
10 Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field…
What if this passage tells of the REAL location of where Jesus was born? Fitting, wouldn’t you say, that the Lamb of God would be born where sacrificial lambs were born. Interesting. We will know one day.
This Christmas, let’s focus on what the Bible DOES say and stick to that. The point is look to what the Bible says, and not jump to conclusions about what it does NOT say. It does not say barn. I believe God left clues. He loves a good mystery. He loves it when his children follow His clues.
Let’s be true readers of the Word and not miss the amazing, miraculous, astonishing message that somewhere in Bethlehem, the Messiah—the Son of God—was born.
I am enjoying reading these. To think that Jesus might have been born where sacrificial lambs were raised is really intriguing. God loves symbolism. Thanks