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The Christmas Manger


By Amos Morgan



The Christmas Manger
Copyright © 2017 By Amos Morgan
Do not duplicate without permission


The Christmas Manger

Jesus celebrated a winter holiday. That Jewish holiday is not in our KJV Bibles even though the bible does tell us that Jesus observed the celebration. John 10:22 tells us that it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter and that Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. This holiday was instituted somewhere between the last chapter of Malachi and the first chapter of Matthew and is now known as Hanukah or The Festival of Lights. In 2016 the eight day long celebration began on the evening of December 24 and ended on January 1, 2017. Some people try to tie this holiday to Christmas. And because Mary wrapped her new-born son in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger some people suppose the night was spent in a stable in below-freezing weather. If Hanukah was about the birth of Jesus it would seem appropriate to introduce it in the book of Leviticus along with the Passover and the feast of weeks (feast of Pentecost {feast of fifty days, in Greek}). So that brings up a very intriguing point; was the birth of Jesus in any way indicated in the Levitical Law? We do not know, but many people suppose it does. Here are some thoughts for consideration.

  • We think Jesus' earthly ministry lasted three years and six months. We know it ended on the fourteenth day of the first month on the day prior to the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread. And we know that the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) is six months removed from the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the Jewish calendar. To many this suggests that Jesus ministry began at the Feast of Tabernacles. Luke 3:22, 23 tells us of the baptism of Jesus by John and concludes with, "..Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, ..". This is not a point of dogma, but taken together it makes September/October a better candidate for Christmas than December.
  • The Feast of Tabernacles reminds the Jewish people they spent forty years living in tents in the wilderness but Sukkot is living in booths, not tents. It reminds them of harvest time but there was no harvest during the forty years spent in the desert. For a description of Sukkot we consult Nehemiah 8: 14 "And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: 15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. 16 So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness." In Israel today Sukkot is celebrated by constructing a wooden frame, covering it with netting and weaving a few branches into the webbing but not so many branches that they can look up without seeing stars and moon-light above (there is always a full moon on the first day of the feast!) Freezing weather does not occur in Israel during this week-long feast, eating and sleeping in a booth is just fine.
  • At some point in the future, gentiles will be required to observe Sukkot. Why? Zechariah 14:16 "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles."
  • So there is a great mystery about the Feast of Tabernacles. What did it signify then and what does it signify now and why are gentiles required to observe it and not the other two feasts? (The feast of Unleavened Bread, beginning on 'Good Friday', celebrated the deliverance from Egypt; the Feast of Weeks celebrated the changing of two dispensations but what do we celebrate by living (eating and sleeping) in a booth for a week and why is it followed by a Sabbath on the eight day?)
  • The eighth day is of special interest to Israeli baby boys; even if their names have already been selected it is given to them at their eighth day celebration. To some, taking Jesus to the temple to do for him according to the law coincides with the Sabbath celebration following living in a booth for seven days.
  • So where did the manger come from in the Christmas story? Certainly we have no private information but here are a couple of thoughts:
    • In olden days it was not required of an inn to provide a stable for those traveling by horse or donkey but the animals must be fed. Putting mangers (food troughs) on the sides of the inn would suffice.
    • Joseph worked with his hands. If he built a booth he could also have made a manger in a few minutes. He would have needed two end pieces in the shape of an 'X' and a few branches long enough to connect the two ends together; then a few boughs to fill the length of the manger. Note: newborn babies do not climb out of a flat bed. It is two-year-olds that climb out of a crib even if the sides are put up and securely fastened!

So you see we still have more questions than answers but there seems to be no logic to explain why Jesus should have been born in a stable in sub-freezing weather. Especially so if he began a three and one-half year ministry that ended in the middle of the first month and began to be about thirty years of age at the beginning of the ministry.



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