Day 3
December 13

December 13, 2022 • Week Three

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Luke 2:6-7

Day 3

Is it possible that Jesus was born in a building used by shepherds, rather than the inn depicted in retellings of the Christmas story you might be familiar with?

Bethlehem’s small size and location in the mountains of Judea with no major road makes it doubtful an inn existed there. In the Bible verse above, Luke used the Greek word that refers to a private home where guests were welcomed, rather than the word that is translated to mean an inn such as you would have found in large cities. Since Bethlehem was Joseph’s hometown, he might have sought lodging in the guest room of a relative or friend.

Family homes in that region were frequently carved into a hillside, similar to a cave but with two levels. The upper room was for the family to eat and sleep, with an area below to bring animals in for the night. With the room above overcrowded with people, it is possible Mary and Joseph were given the lower floor, among the animals, to provide Mary with some privacy during her son’s birth.

Some suggest that another possible location for Jesus’ birth is Migdal Eder, a watchtower near Bethlehem where shepherds watched over lambs that were to be sacrificed during ceremonies at the temple. In the tower’s base, newborn lambs were placed in a manger, a stone trough used to hold feed, water, or newborn animals.

The Bible doesn’t mention animals being present at the birth of Jesus, but Luke does say Mary laid Jesus in a manger. The presence of a manger suggests the birth of Jesus took place where animals are born and cared for. Both a family home of the time and Migdal Eder are possibilities for Jesus’ birth since both would have had mangers.


  • How much have you relied on popular retellings to learn about the Christmas story? How has your understanding of it changed through the Bible verses you have been reading?
  • How will this new knowledge shape how you celebrate Jesus’ birth?