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The Nativity of Jesus

Holy Land Revealed

The nativity of Jesus or Birth of Jesus is described in the biblical gospels of Luke and Matthew. So the two accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. Furthermore, his mother Mary was betrothed to a man named Joseph, who was descended from King David and was not his biological father, and that his birth was caused by divine intervention.



The Nativity of Jesus

The Gospels of both Matthew and Luke place the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. The Gospel of Luke states that Mary gave birth to Jesus and placed him in a manger

“because there was no place for them in the inn”.

The Gospel According to Luke

The Greek word kataluma may be translated as either “inn” or “guestroom”, and some scholars have speculated that Joseph and Mary may have sought to stay with relatives, rather than at an inn, only to find the house full, whereupon they resorted to the shelter of a room with a manger.

Although Matthew does not explicitly state Joseph’s place of origin or where he lived prior to the birth of Jesus, the account implies that the family lived in Bethlehem. Luke 1:26–27 states that Mary originally lived in Nazareth at the time of the Annunciation, before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.



Furthermore, in the 2nd century, Justin Martyr stated that Jesus had been born in a cave outside the town, while the Protoevangelium of James described a legendary birth in a cave nearby. The Church of the Nativity inside the town, built by St. Helena, contains the cave-manger site traditionally venerated as the birthplace of Jesus; which may have originally been a site of the cult of the god Tammuz. Origen, one of the Church Fathers, who from around 215 CE traveled throughout Palestine, wrote of the “manger of Jesus”.

Jesus of Nazareth Date of Birth

The date of birth for Jesus of Nazareth is not stated in the gospels or in any secular text. But a majority of scholars assume a date between 6 BCE and 4 BCE. The historical evidence is too ambiguous to allow a definitive dating, But the date has been estimated through known historical events mentioned in the Gospels of Luke chapter 2 and Matthew or by working backwards from the estimated start of the ministry of Jesus. Luke 2:1 states that Jesus was born during the census of Quirinius in 6 CE. But most scholars have concluded that Luke is in error.

The Nativity of Jesus: New Testament Narratives

Only two of the four canonical gospels, Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-7, offer narratives regarding the birth of Jesus. Of these two, only Luke offers the details of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. The Gospel According to Matthew Mary narrates that the mother of Jesus, was betrothed to Joseph. But was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Joseph intended to divorce her quietly. But an angel told him in a dream that he should take Mary as his wife and name the child Jesus. This would fulfill the prophecy of a virgin birth where the son would be known as Emmanuel, meaning ‘God is with us’. Joseph awoke and did all that the angel commanded.

The beginning of chapter 2 states that Jesus was born in Bethlehem during the time of Herod the Great. Magi from the east came to Herod and asked him where they would find the King of the Jews because they had seen his star. Then advised by the chief priests and teachers, Herod sent the Magi to Bethlehem, where they worshiped the child and gave him gifts. When they had departed, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him to take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, for Herod intended to kill him. The Holy Family remained in Egypt until Herod died when Joseph took them to Nazareth in Galilee for fear of Herod’s son who now ruled in Jerusalem.

The Nativity of Jesus: The Gospel According to Luke

In the days when Herod was king of Judea, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth in Galilee to announce to a virgin named Mary, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, that a child would be born to her and she was to name him Jesus, for he would be the son of God and rule over Israel forever. When the time of the birth drew near, Caesar Augustus commanded a census of Roman domains, and Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem, the ancient city of David, as he was of the House of David. So it came to pass that Jesus was born in Bethlehem; and since there was nowhere for them to stay in the town, the infant was laid in a manger while angels announced his birth to a group of shepherds who worshipped him as Messiah and Lord.

Jesus is Presented at the Temple

In accordance with the Jewish law, his parents presented the infant Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, where two people in the temple, Simeon and Anna the Prophetess, gave thanks to God who had sent his salvation. Joseph and Mary then returned to Nazareth. There “the child grew and became strong, and was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.” Each year his parents went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, and when Jesus was twelve years old they found him in the Temple listening to the teachers and asking questions so that “all who heard him were amazed”.

His mother rebuked him for causing them anxiety, because his family had not known where he was, but he answered that he was in his Father’s house. “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them, but his mother treasured all these things in her heart, and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”

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arik-about

Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

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