The Day Christ was Born How Jim Bishop's Best Seller
Got it Right!
(Sticking with the Bible and Jewish customs, and ignoring religious fables!)
Journalist Jim Bishop (1907), is best known for his
books The Day Lincoln Was Shot (1955), The Day Christ Died (1957), The Day
Christ Was Born (1960), and The Day Kennedy Was Shot (1968). Bishop's work
FDR's Last Year, April 1944-April 1945 (1974) is his most critically acclaimed
For the record
"Nothing is known of the birth of Christ beyond the New Testament. It is a great and joyful story, the happiest event since the dawn of history. It needs no gilding. Still, there is a natural curiosity in the heart of the journalist to know more, He would like to fill in the blank spaces of any great event.
This one happened two thousand years ago. The town and the terrain of Bethlehem have not changed. The road down the Jordan Valley from Nazareth is a little smoother now, but it twists beside the same bank of the same river. The walls of Jerusalem have been moved in a little, especially on the south side, but the view of the Mount of Olives is the same, and Gethsemani still reposes at the base of the mountain.
The marriage customs of the Jews of two thousand years ago are recorded. The manner of courtship, to which Joseph and Mary surely subscribed, is also known. The cave where animnals were sheltered beneath the inn in Bethlehem is still there. The facts about the Magi, as a class of philosophic astrologers, are available to those who seek them. In addition, there are ageless works written by scholars about the birth of Jesus.
I have availed myself of these things. The result is within these pages. Although the facts are as I present them, the book must be called a recreation because it contains dialogue and minor scenes which are not to be found within the historical framework of the New Testament. These are my imaginings.
Sea Bright, New Jersey
(Copyright date 1960)
NIHIL OBSTAT: John A. Goodwine , J.C.D. Censor Librorum
IMPRIMATUR: Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York
Excerpts, Summary, and Comments by Dr. Bob Holt, MD
"THE ROAD OUT OF BETHANY THREW A tawny girdle around the hill they called the Mount of Olives and the little parties came up slowly out of the east leading asses with dainty dark feet toward the splendor of Jerusalem. They came up all year long from Jericho and the Salt Sea and the Mountains of Moab and the north country of Samaria and Galilee in a never-ending procession to the Temple of Herod the Great. It was a spiritual spawning; a coming home; a communion with God at his appointed house."
"Joseph had never seen such awesome beauty. The elders in Nazareth had described it as a rare white jewel set in the green valley between Kidron and Golgotha and he had asked questions about it but the elders -- and his father too -- seemed to lose themselves in arm waving and superlatives. Now he would see it. He reached the rise of the road, his feet tired and dirty from ninety miles of walking, and he unconsciously pulled the jackass a little faster."
"Are you quiet?" he said. His bride, called Miriam in the Aramean tongue, and Mary in others, jogged sideways on the little animal, and said that she was quiet. She felt no pain. This was the fifth day from Nazareth and, from hour to hour, she had progressed from tiredness to fatigue to weariness to the deep anesthesia of exhaustion. She felt nothing. She no longer noticed the chafe of the goatskin against her leg, nor the sway of the food bag on the other side of the animal. Her veiled head hung and she saw millions of pebbles on the road moving by her brown eyes in a blur, pausing, and moving by again with each step of the animal."
"Sometimes she felt ill at ease and fatigued, but she swallowed this feeling and concentrated on what a beautiful baby she was about to have and kept thinking about it, the bathing, the oils, the feeding, the tender pressing of the tiny body against her breast -- and the sickness went away. Sometimes she murmured the ancient prayers and, for the moment, there was no road and no pebbles and she dwelt on the wonders of God and saw him in a fleecy cloud at a windowless wall of an inn or a hummock of trees, walking backward in front of her husband, beckoning him on. God was everywhere. It gave Mary confidence to know that He was everywhere. She needed confidence. Mary was fifteen."
"Most young ladies of the country were betrothed at thirteen and married at fourteen. A few were not joined in holiness until fifteen or sixteen and these seldom found a choice man and were content to be shepherd's wives, living in caves in the sides of the hills, raising their children in loneliness, knowing only the great stars of the night lifting over the hills, and the whistle of the shepherd as he turned to lead his flock to a new pasture. Mary had married a carpenter. He had been apprenticed by his father at bar mitzvah. Now he was nineteen and had his own business."
"It wasn't much of a business, even for the Galilean country. He was young and, even though he was earnest to the point of being humorless, he was untried and was prone to mistakes in his calculations. In all of Judea there was little lumber. Some stately cedars grew in the powdery alkaline soil, but, other than date palms and fig trees and some fruit orchards, it was bald, hilly country. Carpentry was a poor choice."
"A rich priest might afford a house of wood, but most of the people used the substance only to decorate the interior. The houses were of stone, cut from big deposits eighteen inches under the topsoil. It was soft, when first exposed to air, and could be cut with wooden saws into cubes. These were staggered in courses to make a wall. Windows were small and placed high on each wall, so that, daily, squares of sunlight walked slowly across the earthen floor. Mary's house, like the average, was small and set against a hill in Nazareth. At the front, there was a door, there was a stone doorsill. Over it hung a cloth drape. To enter, the drape was pushed aside."
"The interior consisted of two rooms. The front one was Joseph's shop. In it were the workbench, the saws, the auger, the awl and hammers. There were clean-smelling boards and blond curls of shavings on the floor. In the back room there was an earthen oven to the left, three feet wide, six feet long and two feet high. The cooking was done in the stone-lined interior. The family slept on the earthen top of the oven. On chilly nights, the heat seeped through to warm the sleepers. To the right of the room was a table. There were no chairs because only rich Jews sat to eat, and they had learned this from traveling Greeks. Next to the table was a wooden tether for the ass. He was a member of the family, a most important member because he did the carrying of the raw lumber and the finished products, and he was also the sole means of transportation."
"He was petted and loved and spoken to. On the tether, he watched Mary go about her duties. He flicked the flies from his ears and sometimes, when he tired of watching, his eyes closed and he locked his knees so that he would not fall, and he slept standing up. He was not a stubborn animal. He was most patient and he would stand while Joseph burdened him with a mound of objects. When the bridle strap was pulled by his master, the ass lowered his head, switched his tail against his flanks, and started off, the little hoops making sounds like an inverted cup dropped in the mud."
"This was the winter solstice of the Jewish year 8790. The gaity of the Feast of Chanukah had ended as Joseph and his wife left Nazareth. They had come down through Naim and on down into the valley of the Jordan. It was hot along the valley floor, but the Jews of the upland country seldom risked travel by the direct route through Samaria and Sichar, where the people at the village wells were unfriendly and argumentative."
"Each night, when the sun was gone and the road obscure, Joseph led the ass a little way off from the river, away from the road and into a clearing where there was very little brush and few insects. Then he tied the ass, tilted the goatskin and filled the earthen jar with water from it, and sat. There was not much to talk about. Their minds were troubled with momentous events far beyond the scope of their thought; far beyond the rationalization of two simple peasants of the family of David. On the few occasions when they discussed it, both Mary and Joseph became overwhelmed and shy. They lapsed into silences and Joseph would mend the conversational rip with a question about Mary's family."
"Mary was big with the baby, and awkward, but she managed to fetch the food and the bread from the pouch on the near side of the donkey, and to set it down neatly and as appetizingly as possible. There was no meat. Even at home, they never had meat more than once a month. Mostly it was lamb, chopped into cubes and roasted and then set on a plate beside charoseth and other herbs and fruits."
"They slept in the open, saving what little money they had for the day of the baby. Sometimes, when there was no moon, Joseph set the lamp on the ground and Mary removed her veil and brushed the long dark hair which hung to her waist. She said that she would like to bathe in the Jordan, and she said it wistfully because she knew that Joseph would say no, and a good wife did not dispute the will of her husband. On these occasions he said no. He said it gently, reminding her that her time was near, that this would be her firstborn, and he would not assume the risk of the river. To this Mary made no reply. Joseph, touched with tenderness, said gruffly that the best he could do was to take some cloths to the Jordan, wet them and wring the mout, and bring them to her. Mary said that she would appreciate it."
"In the morning, with the sun still behind the Mountains of Moab, Joseph arose, adjusted his tunic, and fed the animal. He worked quietly, whispering to the jackass, setting the folded blanket behind the withers, adjusting and balancing the goatskin and the food bag, before awakening his wife. He felt an enormous compassion for this girl, but he could never explain it. Not even to himself. He had once felt this way toward a little boy who had a withered foot."
"The road was busy at dawn. Sometimes Joseph had to wait until he could find room between parties going south. The road, it seemed, was always alive. The rich Greeks traveled south out of Sepphoris in sedan chairs, the servants shouldering the yokes easily and walking steadily, en route to Jerusalem to trade with the rich Jews. The northbound traffic came from Jerusalem and also from as far away as Egypt, and these merchants were laden with fabrics and metal objects and expensive spices. They left their elegant good wishes on the air behind them."
"On the evening of the fourth day they were at Jericho, a few miles from the Salt Sea and within glance of Mt. Nebo to the east. Joseph wanted to stay at the inn, where they could pay for space on the floor, but Mary begged him not to do it. "This is not an important day," she said. He knew what she meant."
"One does not see a great place like Jericho often ," he said softly. "It will be just as well if we eat at the inn and, as you say, sleep in the fields." He looked away. "I was thinking of you."
"They ate at the inn on the far side of town, near where the wilderness begins. It was an ordinary place, catering to transients. It was a stone place, and one had to eat whatever the house offered. The food came in gleaming bowls, and Mary admitted to herself that it was better than anything she had to offer; so, conversationally, she shifted the attack."
"There are many people in these places," she said."
"Joseph shrugged. "A public house." he said. He was a medium-sized man with deep brown curls hanging to his shoulders. The hair was thick and parted in the middle. His beard was thin and scraggly, but he wiped it with his hand as though it were full. This, Mary understood, was natural in a young man."
"She ate leaning against a wall. She said it made her back feel good. He stood flanking her, a wall of protection against the crush of people entering and leaving the place, babbling as though this were the last chance to inflict their opinions on others."
"It is better together," she said shyly."
"When we must eat in the fields," he said, "we will eat in the fields. This eating is rare."
"Mary ate well, stealing furtive glances at Joseph and wondering what she did to deserve all the tumult of happiness she felt when he was near. It was like a tame storm in her heart, a relaxation of caution accompanied by the excitement of knowing that she belonged to this growing boy. She had never been anywhere, except to visit old relatives, and now, in advanced pregnancy, she was seeing much and knowing much in a few days."
"In the morning, Joseph led Mary and the ass into the wilderness. It was twenty miles to Bethany, and, from there, three to the heart of Jerusalem. A man with strong legs could walk it, leading an animal and a woman, before sundown. The wilderness is a barren place in the mountains, where nothing of consequence grows and the tiny peaks look alike, ochre and white and chalky, a place where bandits await the ornate sedan chairs and the sun smites the walker until the sweat itches his legs and softens the straps of his sandals."
"Joseph stopped at the top of the rise. The ass stopped, and used a hind leg to kick the flies from the underside of his belly. Mary looked up, a tired child with eyes partly conscious of the scene."
"Jerusalem," Joseph said, pointing. She looked. The wonderment of what she saw caused the nausea to fade. Her eyes lost the glazed look. She had heard her father describe this place when she was a little girl. A glance told her that the poor man did not know how to make anyone see Jerusalem. Joseph opened his mouth to speak, but what his eyes saw made his mind drunk and paralyzed his tongue."
"It was a thing to see. The late sun was ahead, across the hill behind Jerusalem. The city was a white jewel pronged by the great stone wall around it. Joseph pulled the ass to the side of the road because the pilgrims behind him were shouting. Without turning from the scene, he moved back along the flank of the ass until he touched Mary's hand. "Jerusalem," he said again. He said it as though it were an earthly anteroom to paradise, as indeed it was."
"The sun would be gone in ten minutes and there was much to see because he could not stay in Jerusalem. His destination, Bethlehem, was still five miles to the south, but he did not mind the night walk if he could stop a moment and drink in all of this and remember it when he was old."
"Darkness is upon us," said Mary. She had a feeling of foreboding. She wanted to proceed to Bethlehem for no reason other that she was trembling and the baby was unusually quiet. Joseph stopped in mid-speech. He knew that she would not interrupt him unless there was a reason. He asked if she desired to get down and have privacy. She said no and, without further conversation, he led the ass westward into the valley and across the little wooden bridge over the Kidron and beneath the great wall of the city and then by the Valley of Hinnom and up into the hills between Jerusalem and Bethlehem."
"It was soon night and moonless. Joseph trod slowly, stumbling on stones underfoot, and wondering how much of a man he would be if brigands sprang out of the dark. There was little traffic on the road; a few transients who lived near Jerusalem hurried by, trying to reach home without spending an extra night under the stars."
"Something happened suddenly to Mary and she knew in a moment that this would be the night of the baby. She asked Joseph to stop and he became alarmed and asked if she was unquiet. "No," she said, "I feel no pain, but we must find an inn. The baby -- with God's help -- will be born tonight."
"Joseph was frightened. He knew nothing of these things."
"The thinking Mary did about the events leading to this night was a kaleidoscope of happy and mysterious and supernatural things calculated to unnerve the most serene young lady. To have a first baby is, in itself, a towering, wordless joy, a living proof of the most common miracle, a sad tenderness to constrict the heart and mist the eyes. To give birth to a first-born who is God and the Son of God and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity is, at age fifteen or any greater age, a heavier responsibility than any other person ever bore, an enormity of weight which could be maintained only by one too young to appreciate it."
Comments by Dr. Robert Holt, MD, MPH
Page 28 of Jim Bishop'x belivable Nativity continues ---
"When Mary reached her thirteenth birthday, it was permissible to ask for her in marriage. The proper form was followed. Joseph first asked his parents if he could marry Mary. He was seventeen, an apprentice carpenter in the neighborhood and more than a year away from having his own shop. It was assumed that a serious-minded young Jew of seventeen was a responsible adult."
"Joseph's parents discussed the matter of marriage and, in time, paid a formal call on Mary's parents. The entire neighborhood knew in advance what negotiations were at hand, and, from draped doorway to draped doorway , the women discussed it as they washed the stones in front of their houses. Mary was not supposed to know of the matter, but had ex facto knowledge of it all along and had made known her wishes to her mother and father. Joseph, who thought it was a deep, pending secret, was amazed and embarrassed to find that the boss carpenter and the tradesmen were not only aware of his wishes, but looked at him archly, stroked their beards, and made him the butt of unsmiling jests."
"The parents engaged in their formal discussion. It was necessary, as part of the little ceremonial, to talk of a dowry, but Mary's people had none. Their economic status was no better, no worse, than Joseph's: as long as the man of the house remained in good health, they would not starve."
"When the two mothers and two fathers were agreed, the qiddushin took place. This is a formal betrothal, and much more binding than any other. The qiddishin has the finality of marriage. Once the marriage contract was negotiated, even though the marriage ceremony had not occured, the bridegroom-to-be could not be rid of his betrothed except through divorce. The qiddushin, in Judea, also entitled the couple to lawful sexual relations, even though each of the parties was still living at home with his parents.
However, in the country of Galilee and in the south, the people had renounced the privilege more than five hundred years before, and purity was maintained through to the final marriage vows."
"Still, if Joseph had died between quiddushin and marriage, Mary would have been his legal widow. If, in the same period, another man had had knowledge of her, Mary could have been punished as an adulteress. The waiting time was spent, according to custom, in shopping for a small home and furniture. The nissu'in, or wedding ceremony, would be almost anticlimactic. A big part of the ceremony was the solemn welcome of the bridegroom to his bride at the door of his new house."
"Throughout the engagement, Mary, of course, lived with her parents and accepted the daily chores set out for her." HERE THE STORY CHANGES, BOTH IN THE BIBLE AND IN JIM BISHOP'S "RECONSTRUCTION".
The First "Catholic" Apparition!
"At a time midway between engagement and formal marriage, Mary was alone one day and was visited by the angel Gabriel. She was alarmed, to be sure, but not as frightened as she would have been had she not heard stories of such visits by the elders. Mary lived after the days of the great prophets, the great visions, the visitations."
"Gabriel stood before her and saw a dark, modest child of fourteen. "Rejoice, child of grace, he said, "The Lord is your helper. You are blessed beyond all women." Mary did not like the sound of the last sentence. Her hands began to shake. Why should she, a little country girl, be blessed beyond all women? Did it mean that she was about to die? Was she being taken, perhaps, to a far-off place, never again to see her mother and her father and --and-- Joseph?"
"She said nothing. She tried to look away, not only because of terror but because it was considered bad manners in Judea for one to stare directly into the eyes of another, but her eyes were magnetized. She stared, and lowered her eyes, and stared again."
"Gabriel's voice softened. 'Do not tremble, Mary,' he said. 'You have found favor in the eyes of God. Behold: you are to be a mother and to bear a son, and to call him Jesus. He will be great: 'Son of the Most High' will be his title, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David. He will be king over the house of Jacob forever, and to his kingship there will be no end.'"
"The words did not calm Mary. Vaguely, she understood that she was to be the mother of a king of kings, but who might this be and how could it occur when she was not even married?"
" 'How will this be,' she said shyly, 'since I remain a virgin?'"
"It was Gabriel's turn to become specific. He stood in soft radiance in the room and explained. 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. For this reason the child to be born will be acclaimed 'Holy' and 'Son of God'. She now understood the words, but they added to her bewilderment. What the angel was saying, she reasoned, was something for which the Jews had been waiting for centuries: a messiah, a savior, God come to earth as he had promised long ago. Mary shook her head."
"Not to her. Not to her."
"Gabriel sensed that the child needed more proof. 'Note, moreover,' he said, 'your relative Elizabeth, in her old age, has also conceived a son and is now in her sixth month -- she who was called 'The barren.' Nothing indeed is impossible for God."
"Regard me as the humble servant of the Lord, ' she murmured. 'May all that you have said be fulfilled in me.'"
"The angel stood before her in silence, fading slowly from her vision, bit by bit, until all that was visible was the wall."
The Visit to Cousin Elizabeth in Judea
"Within a few days, Mary asked, as casually as possible, for permission to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Her mother thought of it as a touching sign of devotion, and sent her off with a family traveling south to Judea. The young virgin said nothing about her secret. Some of the time she seemed to her friends to be lost in a frowning reverie."
Comments by Dr. Robert Holt, MD, MPH
Elizabeth (and her unborn babe) Celebrate Mary's Pregnancy!
"Elizabeth was gray and wrinkled, and she had spent many years in the balcony of the synagogue asking God for a child. Her husband, Zachary, was a priest, a small-town teacher who had once been selected by the great priests of Jerusalem be the one to enter the holy place and offer the incense. He felt sorrier for his Elizabeth than he did for himself in the matter of childlessness. He understood the natural maternal feelings of Elizabeth and, unknown to her, he had prayed again and again for a child."
"Some time before the visit of Mary, the angel Gabriel had appeared before Zachary in the temple and told him that God had answered their prayers. Elizabeth would give birth to a son in June, and she must call him John. Someday in the distant future he would be called the Baptist, and he would go ahead of the Messiah, preaching and baptizing as he went."
"Elizabeth was standing in her doorway as Mary came up the walk. It was as though she had expected the visit. Mary, an affectionate child, shouted a happy greeting before she reached the door. Elizabeth felt her baby move within her and, raising her hand in greeting, suddenly burst into tears. "Blessed are you," she said, "beyond all women. And blessed is the fruit of your womb!"
"Mary stopped, part way to the door. Her mouth hung open. She could not speak. Elizabeth knew! Elizabeth knew the secret! Elizabeth wiped her eyes and tried to smile. "How privileged am I," she said to her niece, "to have the mother of my Lord come to visit me. Hear me now: as the sound of your greeting fell upon my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy! Happy is she who believed that what was told her on behalf of the Lord would be fulfilled."
One Who DID NOT Celebrate!
We read on page 37 of The Day Christ was Born -- "She thought again of her mother and decided not to tell. If the angel had wanted her mother to know, he would have come when her mother was at home, so that both of them would have had knowledge of this thing. He had deliberately selected a time when she was alone. Therefore, it must be the will of God that she keep the secret. Anyway, if her mother or anyone else knew the secret, they would tell it to her, and thus she would know which human beings God had selected to know of the honor. Surely, she thought, Joseph would know. He was her intended husband. The angel would have to tell Joseph. If he didn't, then what would Joseph think when she became great with child and he knew that the baby was not his? Oh yes, the angel would surely tell Joseph."
On page 40, after Mary had accepted Elizabeth's interpretation of her pregnancy, and Mary had recited or sung her little song of acceptance, Jim Bishop writes this:
"The women embraced and Mary wondered what made her think of those words. The young girl remained with Elizabeth until June, a week prior to the birth of John (John was born in September, but Jim Bishop didn't know that, and is trying to honor Catholic traditions). Mary was three months pregnant and her parents had sent word that she should be at homr preparing for her wedding. Elizabeth now enjoyed Mary's complete confidence and the two wondered if Joseph knew. It was important that he know what was about to happen, and to understand."
"WHEN MARY ARRIVED HOME, she saw her husband-to-be. He was not happy that she had chosen to be away from him for three months and, if he knew the secret, he hid it well. He had heard from Mary's mother that Elizabeth was to berar a child, but surely there were others in her town who could have attended her. The young girl did not dispute Joseph. She decided, from his attitude, that he knew nothing of the great secret. She would not marry him without telling something of it."
"I'm going to have a baby," she said. The shock to Joseph was beyond measure. Throughout the courtship, his intended bride had worn an aura of innocence; he was painfully conscious of her lack of knowledge. She had gone away three months ago, and now returned to say that she was pregnant."
"It is impossible to read the depths of sorrow in both hearts. He looked at her tenderly and she offered no word of explanation. She looked away from him and wished that she might tell everything. The baby was going to need a foster father -- who better than the man she loved, the gentle and pious and patient Joseph? The thought crossed her mind that he had been selected for the role for these very reasons. He would be anideal guardian for the infangt. Then why, why had he not been told? Why wrench two" young hearts with tragedy when the truth was as the sun and as warming?"
"On the tip of hder tongue Mary had the greatest secret of all history. She could not unlock her tongue. Joseph went away from her to think. Of the two, he was the more pitiable. He loved this girl with all his heart and he had had visions of a long and fruitful life with her. Now, he felt, she had betrayed him asnd he could not understand the betrayal, nor even force himself to believe that it was true."
"Joseph kept his awful secret. He could divorce her publicly. If he did this, he would be impelled to tell the elders the reason. In that case, they would ask Mary if she was with child. If she said yes, Joseph would have to swear that he was "without knowledge of her". The priests would adjudge her to be an adulteress. There was only one penalty for this crime: stoning. The guilty person was led by the townsmen to a high cliff and ordered to jump. If the aduylteress refuses, she is pushed. As she lies at the bottom of the cliff, the people arm themselves with stones, and watch. If she moves, they throw the stones. If she doesn't, they go home. The body is left where it is for the birds and the animals."
"Joseph was being put to the test. He did not want Mary to die. He loved her. He could, under the law, pay money to put her away, to have her sent to some remote place. Thjere she could have her baby and remain. A third possibility would be for Joseph to swallow his pride, proceed with the wedding, and hope that there would not be too much comment in the town over a six-month baby."
"He was dwelling upon the possibilities one night in bed. Suddenly, the carpenter made up his mind. He would put Mary away privately. It would break his heart, and he knew that he could not love anyone else, but it would be just and, at the same time, merciful."
"Within a few moments after the decision was reached, relaxation came to Joseph, and he slept. In sleep, he was visited by an angel."
---"the spirit said to him "Joseph, son of David, do not scruple to take Mary, your wife into your home. Her conception was wrought by the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus; for he will save his people from their sins."
"WHEN JOSEPH AWAKENED, he remembered the dream and he wondered if his forlorn hopes were reaching for rationalization. A dream was nothing more than a dream. His unconscious wishes might be fulfilled in sleep. Still, if this were so, he would never dream a blasphemy in which the pregnancy was excused by attributing it to God. Besides, the dream fulfilled an old prophecy to the letter: "Behold the virgin will be pregnant and give birth to a son, who will be called 'Emmanuel,' which means 'God with us.'"
"Joseph felt refreshed. He felt happy. The more he dwelt upon the dream, the more clearly he saw the hand of God revealing a great truth to him. It required restraint to go to work, making stalls and tables and wooden hangers for utensils and closets for garments. He longed to hurry to Mary's house, yelling: "I know! I know!" His patience manifested itself, and he waited until the proper time, after supper, and when she saw his first glance, Mary knew that he knew before he took her for an evening walk to explain."
"God had tried both of these young people, and they had not failed him. Still, Joseph was worried because he did not understand what part he was to play, nor how best to interpret the will of God. The scripture plainly said that the Messiah would be born of a virgin, and Joseph interpreted this to mean that he would have no prerogatives as a husband, now or ever."
"The following week, they were married and Joseph took Mary to his home. One of his worries, he confided to Mary, was that if the old prophecy of a Messiah was to be fulfilled, then something was wrong because everyone knew that the sacred scriptures said that the King of Kings would be born in Bethlehem -- the city of David. Their infant would be born in Nazareth, a place over ninety miles north of Bethlehem."
"She had no intention of traveling anywhere, Mary said. She was going to remain here in Nazareth. In the summer months, and the early autumn, the older women of the town noticed that she was pregnant, and they counseled her to remain close to her home. She would not go to see Elizabeth's baby, so why should she consider traveling to Bethlehem? Joseph nodded. That was the way he felt. He had never been to Bethlehem and he had no intention of going there."