Joseph and Mary

Joseph and Mary - Luke 2

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Joseph and Mary
LUKE CHAPTER 2 COMMENTARY

Luke 2:3-7 Joseph and Mary

LUKE 2:3-5  3 So all went to register, everyone to his own town. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the town of Nazareth, into Judea, to the town of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to register with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

What is meant by Mary being Joseph’s “betrothed wife” (Luke 2:5)?
See bride and bridegroom.

Why is Bethlehem called “the town of David” (Luke 2:4)?
David, the second king of Israel, who lived a thousand years prior, was born and raised in Bethlehem: “But David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.” (1 Samuel 17:15)

Where are “Galilee” and “Nazareth” (Luke 2:4)?
“Galilee” refers to the region around the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. Nazareth, located about 25 kilometers (16 miles) west of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee (photo), is a city of about 70,000 today. Two thousand years ago, it was a town with an estimated population of no more than 2,000.

Where are “Judea” and “Bethlehem” (Luke 2:4)?
Judea referred to the southern 1/3 of Israel and included Bethlehem.

How far did Joseph and Mary travel?
Bethlehem is 110 kilometers (68 miles) south of Nazareth, and Judea is at a higher elevation than Galilee, hence the need to go “up from Galilee” (Luke 2:3). If they detoured around Samaria as most Jews did (see Samaritan woman), the journey would have covered many more kilometers / miles.

Did Mary ride on a donkey?
Riding on a donkey back then was like riding in a luxury car today; the rich rode on donkeys or other animals while everyone else, including the poor like Joseph and Mary, who couldn’t even afford a lamb (see presentation of Jesus), walked. Given the long journey and Mary being pregnant, it’s possible for Joseph to have borrowed a donkey for Mary to ride on, but the Bible never says Mary rode on a donkey or any other animal, and the fact that Joseph, Mary and Jesus remained in Bethlehem for up to two years (see slaughter of the innocents) makes such a loan unlikely. Whether on foot or riding on an animal, this was a long and difficult journey for a pregnant woman.

LUKE 2:6-7  6 And it came to pass while they were there that the days were fulfilled for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn Son, wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in the manger because there was no place for them in the guest room.

Where was the “guest room” (Luke 2:7) that had no space for them?
καταλυμα (kataluma), the root of the original Greek word that is also translated as “guest room” in Mark 14:14 and Luke 22:11, is a room for guests, either at an inn or at a residence. If at an inn, it would have been a large communal room for all of the guests, not a private room like those in a hotel today.

Did Mary give birth immediately upon arriving in Bethlehem?
“Days” (Luke 2:7) were fulfilled for her to give birth while they were in Bethlehem, so she gave birth after she had been in Bethlehem for days, possibly many days.

What are “swaddling cloths” and “manger”?
Swaddling cloths are cloths that wrap and protect babies, while manger is an open feeding trough where animals eat their food - i.e., their food bowl.

What does Mary giving birth to her “firstborn” (Luke 2:7) Son indicate?
She gave birth to other sons after Jesus (see Jesus’ brothers). 

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