The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
October 4th, 2001
Received by H.
Very well, my dear brother! I see you have already drawn a portrait of Joseph. And this is how he looked like when he arrived at Bethlehem with his young pregnant wife. He was a handsome lad, intelligent and vigorous. He had also some defects, a too rigid a character that would take him into conflict with Jesus, but we will speak of that later.
When Jesus died crucified in Golgotha, many wrinkles furrowed Joseph’s face, wrinkles formed by his worries over his son, and his hair was gray, showing a marked baldness in the forehead.
So they arrived at Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary, after a wearisome trip through the Jordan valley, where all the year an almost tropical climate reigns, and after ascending the mountains of Judea, where the winter chill cut their skin.
When they arrived at Bethlehem, night had already fallen. They went to the small house of one of Joseph's relatives, because as I have told you, Joseph was born in Bethlehem, and asked for shelter. In that time, as is the case today, hospitality was considered paramount in the east, and the two travelers, or rather fugitives, were welcomed with open arms.
Bethlehem was a pitiable village then, and people had neither luxuries nor big houses, they lived poorly as peasants, farmers and mainly as shepherds. Joseph’s relatives immediately were willing to make available to them a room, but Joseph declined this. Yes, hospitality was paramount, but people also knew that they should not abuse this right. Joseph explained to his relatives that he would be happy to spend the night in a stable, with some shelter against the cold, with four walls, a roof and some straw which could provide this, and that the following day they would gladly accept the room, but that they didn’t want to cause problems at this late hour in the night. And so it happened.1
The wearisome trip left its mark, and the labor pains began prematurely, not very prematurely, it is true, but there were some days left until the expected date of childbirth. But the stress, as you would say today, of the journey, the fear and the nervousness, accelerated events. And Mary gave birth in that stable, and they placed the boy in a manger, precisely so, as people reproduce the scene at Christmas.
You already know much of this story. Jesus already told Mr. Padgett and Dr. Samuels quite a detailed story of those events. Joseph felt happy. He arranged a small feast the following day, and the Bethlehem residents participated, being the famous “Christmas shepherds.” And then the young family moved into the house.
When many days later the “wise men” came, the wise astrologers from Babylonia, they did not pay homage to Jesus in that stable, but in the house. Just read what Matthew says: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”
Yes, when they came into the house, into this room, there it was where they presented their offerings, and where they alerted Joseph and Mary to the great danger.
With that we come to a question, which has always caused great dispute amongst the scholars of the Bible: The slaughter of the innocent in Bethlehem.
Many say that this never happened. Others say that it did indeed happen. As a matter of fact, this misdeed is not mentioned in any story of the historians, it is not mentioned anywhere, apart from the writings of the ecclesiastical authors, of course. This is why there is the suspicion that it never occurred.
But it did happen. First, the argument of the historians that the Romans would have never tolerated such cruelty is not true. Herod was a formally independent king, and he could always do what he wanted, provided the interests of Rome were not in danger.
Second, the argument that the silence of the historians means that the slaughter never happened, is not valid either. Bethlehem was a small village. The slaughter didn’t affect hundreds of babies, just a few. It sounds cruel, because the slaughter of a single baby is already an incredible cruelty, but in fact, less than twenty children were involved. And Herod, certainly, didn’t do this openly. He sent his elite soldiers, his personal guard, disguised as bandits, and they plundered the hamlet, killing “incidentally” the babies. Assaults like this simply happened, and nobody thought that it would be worthwhile reporting these numerous incidents. You already suspected that, and you are right. That is how it happened.
I promised you that I would tell you of Herod’s actions against his family. You already know this story. So, write down here what you know.
[H.: Aristobulus, his brother-in-law and high priest, had the honor of being the first on the list.
Joseph: While answering the charge of this murder in Egypt, Herod gave the order to his uncle Joseph that if he should die, then his wife, Mariamne, and her mother were to be executed. Herod managed to talk his way out of the murder charge, but on his return to Jerusalem found that his wife had learned of his arrangement with Joseph. Herod began to wonder why Joseph had told Mariamne, and came to the wrong conclusion that they were having an affair. In fact Joseph had told her of the plan in order to demonstrate Herod’s love for her. However, despite the total lack of evidence Joseph was executed.
Mariamne: Herod was very much in love with her, but with jealous accusations from other wives and Mariamne’s increasing coldness towards him, he eventually persuaded himself to have her executed too. He regretted it straight away and became filled with guilt, making himself mentally and physically ill.
Alexandra: Thinking that Herod was about to die, Alexandra, Mariamne’s mother made arrangements to put Herod’s children by Mariamne, Alexander and Aristobulus, on the throne. She too was then executed for her presumption!
Mariamne’s two sons: Herod had 10 wives altogether and towards the end of Herod’s life, Antipater, the eldest son by his first wife began to realize that he was not favored to take over from his father. He was deeply jealous of the sons of Mariamne, and in order to discredit them he accused his two stepbrothers of treachery and, believing him, Herod had them both executed too.
Antipater: He must have thought he had got away with it, but just before Herod died, Antipater was executed as well, accused of trying to accelerate his death. Signing Antipater’s death warrant, Augustus Caesar remarked that he would rather be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son!
The intended mass-execution: Just before his death, Herod, realizing that when he died there would be no great mourning, sent letters to the heads of every family in Judaism demanding their presence on pain of death. Having got them to Jerusalem, Herod ordered them to be locked up in the horseracing ground. He then gave the orders to his sister that upon his death they were all to be executed. Thus making sure that the whole nation would mourn when he died, albeit not for him. Fortunately, when Herod died, his sister released the imprisoned Jews and allowed them to return home. Herod died 37 years after being declared ‘King of the Jews.’]
You see, old Herod was suspicious of everything and everybody. Killing a few babies, to him, was insignificant.
But “luckily” Joseph, Mary and Jesus survived, thanks to the warning of the wise men, and so they escaped. They were already far away from the place, when the massacre began. But of that we will speak next time.
I am glad that I have been able to clarify some of your questions as to Jesus’ birth, especially the question as to why Jesus was born in a stable. Nothing special, as you see, a simple event in life.
Well, my brother, I will say good-bye now. Have a nice and blessed day. God bless you always.
Your brother in the spirit,
Joseph, as a young father.
1 Our messages do not state convincingly the date and year of Jesus’ birth. Unlike the Urantia Book that states very authoritatively that it occurred on noon, August 21, 7 B.C. (122:8.1) The year appears right from our sources, but the inference is that it was much closer to January of that year - they state shortly after midnight of January 7. Assuming the year is correct, this would have Jesus at about ten years old when they returned from Egypt. It is very dissappointing that two reputable channeled sources cannot agree on a matter such as this very important date, but it is the case that dates are hard to receive accurately.
© Copyright is asserted in this message by Geoff Cutler 2013