The number of shepherds shown varies also, though three is typical in the West; one or more dogs may be included, as in the Taddeo Gaddi (right, with red collar).
It may also be worth noting that many biblical figures were shepherds , among them the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob, the twelve tribes, the prophet Moses, King David, and the Old Testament prophet Amos, who was a shepherd in the rugged area around Tekoa.
Only the Gospel of Matthew tells of the Magi, or wise men, following a star, but he doesn’t say there are three of them, and they likely arrived quite some time after the birth. Only Luke mentions a manger , shepherds and a chorus of angels. There’s no mention in either version that Mary rode into Bethlehem on a donkey.
When considering the shepherds of the Christmas story , historian Paul Maier said it well: “If resorting to symbolism . . . the shepherds stood for the cross-sectional, average Judean — quite literally, ‘the man on the night shift. ‘” Shepherds had a difficult job that earned no rank in society.
In the days when Herod was king of Judea, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth in Galilee to announce to a virgin named Mary, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, that a child would be born to her and she was to name him Jesus , for he would be the son of God and rule over Israel forever.
The magi knelt down for the baby Jesus and “offered him gifts of gold , frankincense , and myrrh .” Their gifts are possibly an allusion to Isaiah’s vision of nations rendering tribute to Jerusalem: “A multitude of camels shall cover you.
Biblical references In the Gospel of John, Jesus states “I am the good shepherd ” in two verses, John 10:11 and 10:14. I am the good shepherd . The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd , who doesn’t own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees.
In the culture of the Israelites, the rod (Hebrew: מַטֶּה maṭṭeh) was a natural symbol of authority, as the tool used by the shepherd to correct and guide his flock (Psalm 23:4).
On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Matthew calls the visitors “Magi” (wise men) and they may well have been astrologers , following the sign of a special star in the sky. They probably came from Persia . The Magi could have come to visit weeks or even months after the shepherds visited , when Mary and Joseph had found accommodation in a house (verse 11).
Some apocryphal accounts state that at the time of her betrothal to Joseph, Mary was 12–14 years old . According to ancient Jewish custom, Mary could have been betrothed at about 12. Hyppolitus of Thebes says that Mary lived for 11 years after the death of her son Jesus, dying in 41 AD.
“And on the third day after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, Mary went out of the cave, and, entering a stable, placed the child in a manger, and an ox and an ass adored him.
After the angel told the shepherds about the birth of Jesus , the angel was joined by an army of angels , and they sang praises to God saying , “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Mary did not ride to Bethlehem on a donkey . Nowhere in any Gospel does it say that Mary did anything but walk. The whole journey is given in three lines: Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem and while they were there, she went into labour. No mention of transportation.
As the well-known story in the Gospel of Matthew goes, three Magi, or wise men , followed the Star of Bethlehem to Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago. And after consulting with King Herod of Judea, the men found newborn baby Jesus in the little town of Bethlehem.