Christmas Story - Shepherds Visit Jesus

In the Bible we see there are a limited number of people who are present or who are called to be present at the birth of Jesus. One of the best-known groups are the shepherds who were tending their flocks nearby.  These people, most probably men, were not there by chance, but as a very special part of the Christmas Story. Below is an excerpt from my book "Bible Archaeology and The Christmas Story". As with many elements of the stories within the Bible, there is very often more to the story.

 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.

Luke 2:8-10

Another interesting element of the Christmas story to examine are the Shepherds who were tending
their flocks in a nearby field. When most of us think of this passage we think of just the random shepherds who just happened to be nearby, nothing really special about them. If we think about it at all we may try to make some reference between the shepherds coming to see Jesus and later Jesus being referred to as the Good Shepherd. In fact, this may be exactly what happened, and the exact reference Luke intended for us to make. There is however another possibility, one which offers a far deeper meaning to these shepherds and a very special significance they had to the story of Jesus’ birth.

The location of Jesus’ birth was told in Micah 5:8. In Micah 4:8 we find a mention of shepherds. “As for you, watchtower of the flock”. Very close to Bethlehem was a place called Migdal Eder, the tower of the flock. This seems to be a perfect match to the line from Micah 4:8. But just what was “the tower of the flock”?

The tower of the flock was a special hill or pasture where very special flocks of sheep were kept and tended. While the exact location of the tower of the flock is unknown today, it is known to have been very close to Bethlehem. It should also be noted that Bethlehem is very close to Jerusalem. The two cities are just over four miles apart. The flocks of sheep kept at the tower of the flock were indeed a very special flock. These were the pascal lambs which were destined to be used as a sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem. Is it possible the shepherds who came to visit Jesus had left behind the pascal lambs to visit the final pascal lamb who would be offered up for all of us?

While Luke does not directly mention this possibility, very few things are recorded in the Bible by chance or without purpose. It is also possible first century readers would have had knowledge of the special herds as well as their proximity to Jesus and would have made the connection without being told. Either way, the possible connection is fascinating and offers yet another very special layer to the Christmas Story.

Did you enjoy this article? Follow this Blog to get new posts sent directly to you.



Bible Archaeology

  Excerpt from upcoming book, "200+ Archaeological Discovers."   A Comprehensive Guide to Biblical Archaeology. ... Coming late 20...