GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
The Most Significant Event In The History Of The World
The Birth Of Jesus Christ
By Keith L. Estes
It's more significant than electricity, autos, trains, airplanes, the Ben Franklin stove, fine homes and sliced bread. These are all wonderful but they are temporal, however His words offer eternal hope. The Place- Bethlehem, which is Hebrew for "House of Bread," lies six miles south of Jerusalem at 2,460 feet above sea level. It is known as the city of David. This is the city of the birth of David's greater son, Jesus Christ, as predicted by Micah the prophet. In the New Testament it is mentioned only in the Gospels and always in reference to Christ's birth.
The Parents- Bethlehem was the original city of both Joseph and Mary's ancestors and because of the taxation decree Joseph and Mary traveled there from Nazareth and Jesus was born there when they arrived.
Herod- Known in history as Herod the Great, because of his loyalty to Rome, was given authority over Palestine and the title of king to win the favor of both Romans and Jews he carried out lavish building projects including the cities of Caesarea and Samaria, and the new temple at Jerusalem. Herod had 10 wives, and the deserved reputation of being a cruel, unscrupulous despot. Because of hatred and ambitions for power among families, and because of Herod's consuming suspicion that someone might usurp his throne, he even executed one of his wives and his three oldest sons. Thus, the act of murdering all of the young male children in the region of Bethlehem, in an effort to eliminate the one whom the Magi had called King of the Jews, fits Herod's character.
The Wise Men- these were originally the priestly caste among the Persians and Babylonians. These Magi from the East were experts in the study of the stars. Tradition claims that there were three royal visitors who were also kings. However, there is no real historical evidence to verify this. The wise men naturally came to Jerusalem; the royal capital of Israel, seeking one whom they thought was to be born a king, on the basis of their calculations of the stars. The wise men found the young child in a house. This indicates that the family had moved from the stable into a home at Bethlehem.
The Star- His star could not have been merely a natural phenomenon, since it led the wise men to Jerusalem and later to Bethlehem. It almost certainly was a divine manifestation used by God to indicate the fact and place of the Messiah's birth. Some believe that it could have been an alignment of the planets that presented itself as a star.
Archelaus- When Herod was dead he was succeeded by his son Archelaus, the son of his Samaritan wife, Malthace. Archelaus was as brutal as his father. He was given the most important district of his father's realm- Judea, Samaria, and Idumea. He was more wicked and cruel than his father, and because of this was deposed by Rome. Joseph, again warned in a dream, returned to Nazareth, avoiding any further residence in Judea. The phrase "He shall be called a Nazarene," is a reference to Christ's coming from the city of Nazareth. It should not be taken to mean that He was a Nazarite.
Ref. Liberty Annotated Study Bible, Gospels of Matthew and Luke.