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Tuesday, December 20 2016

Did Mary Really Ride A Donkey Into Bethlehem?

"She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger"

Christian art and tradition typically portrays Mary riding a donkey into Bethlehem just before the birth of the Messiah (see Bethlehem In History And Prophecy). The Scriptures do not specifically state that she did, however it is extremely unlikely that Mary walked all of the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a distance of about 145 kilometers (90 miles), in her very advanced condition.

Having a donkey would also explain why Joseph (see Joseph Of Nazareth) and Mary (see the Fact Finder question below) had the legal right to be in a stable at the time of the birth that happened upon their arrival - there may have been space available for their donkey in the barn (see The King Who Was Born In A Barn), but not for them in the inn itself. As such, the Messiah's first cradle may have been the manger of the family donkey.


"2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

2:7 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." (Luke 2:1-7 KJV)

Wealthy people (and armies) at that time typically had horses and elaborate chariots or carts, while regular working people had donkeys - or a donkey. We know that Joseph and Mary were not wealthy people at the time of the Messiah's birth (they did receive valuable gifts, to be held for the Messiah, months later from the Magi; see Why Did The Magi Come?) because of the offerings that they made at the Temple a few days after the birth. According to the ancient Law (see The Messiah's Levitical Birth), their offering was specified for those who were not wealthy enough to sacrifice a lamb i.e. "if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons." Ironically though, while they couldn't afford to sacrifice a lamb, they presented the Lamb of God at that same time.

"12:8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean." (Leviticus 12:8 KJV)

"2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 2:22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 2:23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 2:24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." (Luke 2:21-24 KJV)

The Messiah would have had a lifetime of experience with donkeys. His "triumphal entry" was upon yet-another donkey - or perhaps, possibly, His own donkey that He had left in the care of others for the day ("Straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto Me") - the reason that they immediately agreed to the Messiah's instructions about them ("The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them").

"21:1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 21:2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.

21:3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.

21:4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 21:5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

21:6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 21:7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.

21:8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 21:9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest." (Matthew 21:1-9 KJV)

Fact Finder: What does the Holy Bible actually record about Mary?
See What Does The Bible Really Say About Mary?

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This Day In History, December 20

69: Roman emperor Vitellius was murdered and his body was dragged through the streets by the supporters of his rival Vespian, who then became Emperor (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars and The Politics Of Rome).

1046: At the Synod at Sutri in Italy, German Emperor Heinrich (the German version of Henry) III dismissed Pope Gregory VI (see Emperors and Popes and listen to our Sermon Constantine's Papacy). Four days later, Clement II was elected as Pope. The German Empire became the successor of the original Roman Empire, also thereby inheriting the Church of Rome (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).

German Empire

1192: Richard the Lion-Heart was captured and imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria while returning to England after signing a treaty with Saladin to end the Third crusade (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy).

1552: Katherine von Bora died at age 53. The former nun married Protestant reformer Martin Luther in 1525, when Luther was 42 and she was 26. They had 6 children.

1606: Patriotic English settlers for the Virginia Company, a joint stock company chartered by King James I (after whom the King James Version of the Holy Bible is named; see also Why Is God A King, Not A President?) earlier that year, left London to establish English royal colonies in the wilderness of "New England."

King James

1699: Following the lead of the Church of Rome, Peter the Great announced a reorganization of the Russian calendar, decreeing that the new year would begin on January 1 instead of September 1 (see How Did Rome Change True Time? and The Restoration Of The True Week And Month Is Coming).

1780: The Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784) began.

1860: In defense of slavery, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union; it was not readmitted until 1868, after the Civil War.

1919: Canadian National Railways was established. It is today North America's longest railway with 31,000 miles / 50,000 kilometers of track.

1922: Fourteen Russian republics were combined as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The USSR lasted 70 years before collapsing to the failure of socialism as a viable economic system.


1924: Austrian-born German Nazi party leader Adolf Hitler was released from Landsberg Prison (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion and Why Does Satan Love Liars?; also The Terrorist Attack That Enabled Hitler To Become A Dictator).

1933: The Nazi government of Germany announced that 400,000 citizens were to be sterilized because of "hereditary defects" (included in the "defects" were anyone who opposed the government; see also The Character Assassins).

1955: Cardiff was proclaimed the capital city of Wales, United Kingdom.

1973 In Spain, General Franco's prime minister and right-hand man, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, was assassinated as he rode through a Madrid street.

1983: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and 4,000 PLO ("Palestine Liberation Organization"; "Palestine" is a variant English translation of "Philistine"; see Where Is Palestine?) loyalists were evacuated from Lebanon during an Israeli invasion (see also Jordan's West Bank Invasion).

1987: A collision between the Philippine ferry Dona Paz and a tanker caused the deaths of 4,386 passengers and crew, all but 11 aboard the ferry - the worst peace-time tragedy at sea. The Dona Paz was licensed to carry just 1,500.

1989: The U.S. invaded Panama to install a new puppet government after President Manuel Noriega began moving Panama toward a declaration of independence from the U.S.

1996: Astronomer Carl Sagan died at age 62 (listen to our Sermon The Creator of Cosmos).


Copyright © Wayne Blank