22 Then Joseph took Mary, and went to his house, rejoicing and praising the God of Israel.
1 A decree from Augustus for taxing the Jews. 5 Joseph puts Mary on an ass, to return to Bethlehem, 6 she looks sorrowful, 7 she laughs, 8 Joseph inquires the cause of each, 9 she tells him she sees two persons, one mourning and the other rejoicing, 10 the delivery being near, he takes her from the ass, and places her in a cave.
AND it came to pass, that there went forth a decree [*2] from the Emperor Augustus, that all the Jews should be taxed, who were of Bethlehem in Judaea:
2 And Joseph said, I will take care that my children be taxed: but what shall I do with this young woman?
3 To have her taxed as my wife I am ashamed; and if I tax her as my daughter, all Israel knows she is not my daughter.
4 When the time of the Lord’s appointment shall come, let him do as seems good to him.
5 And he saddled the ass, and put her upon it, and Joseph and Simon followed after her, and arrived at Bethlehem within three miles.
6 Then Joseph turning about saw Mary sorrowful, and said within himself, Perhaps she is in pain through that which is within her.
7 But when he turned about again he saw her laughing, and said to her,
8 Mary, how happens it, that I sometimes see sorrow, and sometimes laughter and joy in thy countenance?
9 And Mary replied to him, I see two people with mine eyes,
THE BIRTH OF CHRIST. FROM A ”BOOK OF THE EVANGELISTS.” GREEK MANUSCRIPT OF THE TWELFTH CENTURY
the one weeping and mourning, the other laughing and rejoicing.
10 And he went again across the way, and Mary said to Joseph, Take me down from the ass, for that which is in me presses to come forth.
11 But Joseph replied, Whither shall I take thee? for the place is desert.
12 Then said Mary again to Joseph, take me down, for that which is within me mightily presses me.
13 And Joseph took her down.
14 And he found there a cave, and let her into it.
1 Joseph seeks a Hebrew midwife, 2 perceives the fowls stopping in their flight, 3 the working people at their food not moving, 8 the sheep standing still, 9 the shepherd fixed and immoveable, 10 and kids with their mouths touching the water but not drinking.
AND leaving her and his sons in the cave, Joseph went forth to seek a Hebrew midwife in the village of Bethlehem.
2 But as I was going (said Joseph) I looked up into the air, and I saw the clouds astonished, and the fowls of the air stopping in the midst of their flight.
3 And I looked down towards the earth, and saw a table spread, and working people sitting around it, but their hands were upon the table, and they did not move to eat.
4 They who had meat in their mouths did not eat.
5 They who lifted their hands up to their heads did not draw them back:
6 And they who lifted them up to their mouths did not put anything in;
7 But all their faces were fixed upwards.
8 And I beheld the sheep dispersed, and yet the sheep stood still.
9 And the shepherd lifted up his hand to smite them, and his hand continued up.
10. And I looked unto a river, and saw the kids with their mouths close to the water, and touching it, but they did not drink.
1 Joseph finds a midwife. 10 A bright cloud overshadows the care. 11 A great light in the cave, gradually increases until the infant is born. 13 The midwife goes out, and tells Salome that she has seen a virgin bring forth. 17 Salome doubts it. 20 her hand withers, 22 she supplicates the Lord, 28 is cured, 30 but warned not to declare what she had seen.
THEN I beheld a woman coming down from the mountains, and she said to me, Where art thou going, O man?
2 And I said to her, I go to inquire for a Hebrew midwife.
3 She replied to me, Where is the woman that is to be delivered?
4 And I answered, In the cave, and she is betrothed to me.
5 Then said the midwife, Is she not thy wife?
6 Joseph answered, It is Mary, who was educated in the Holy of Holies, in the house of the Lord, and she fell to my lot, and is not my wife, but has conceived by the Holy Ghost.
7 The midwife said, Is this true?
8 He answered, Come and see.
9 And the midwife went along with him, and stood in the cave.
10 Then a bright cloud overshadowed the cave, and the midwife said, This day my soul is magnified, for mine eyes have seen surprising things, and salvation is brought forth to Israel.
11 But on a sudden the cloud became a great light in the cave, so that their eyes could not bear it.
12 But the light gradually decreased, until the infant appeared, and sucked the breast of his mother Mary.
13 Then the midwife cried out, and said, How glorious a day is this, wherein mine eyes have seen this extraordinary sight!
14 And the midwife went out from the cave, and Salome met her.
15 And the midwife said to her, Salome, Salome, I will tell you a most surprising thing which I saw,
16 A virgin hath brought forth, which is a thing contrary to nature.
17 To which Salome replied, As the Lord my God liveth, unless I receive particular proof of this matter, I will not believe that a virgin hath brought forth.
18 Then Salome went in, and the midwife said, Mary, shew thyself, for a great controversy is risen concerning thee.
19 And Salome received satisfaction.
20 But her hand was withered, and she groaned bitterly.
21 And said, Woe to me, because of mine iniquity; for I have tempted the living God, and my hand is ready to drop off.
22 Then Salome made her supplication to the Lord, and said, O God of my fathers, remember me, for I am of the seed of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.
23 Make me not a reproach among the children of Israel, but restore me sound to my parents.
24 For thou well knowest, O Lord, that I have performed many offices of charity in thy name, and have received my reward from thee.
25 Upon this an angel of the Lord stood by Salome, and said, The Lord God hath heard thy prayer, reach forth thy hand to the child, and carry him, and by that means thou shalt be restored.
26 Salome, filled with exceeding joy, went to the child, and said, I will touch him:
27 And she purposed to worship him, for she said, This is a great king which is born in Israel.
28 And straightway Salome was cured.
29 Then the midwife went out of the cave, being approved by God.
30 And lo! a voice came to Salome, Declare not the strange things which thou hast seen, till the child shall come to Jerusalem.
31 So Salome also departed, approved by God.
1 Wise men come from the east. 3. Herod alarmed; 8 desires them if they find the child, to bring him word. 10 They visit the cave, and offer the child their treasure, 11 and being warned in a dream, do not return to Herod, but go home another way.
THEN Joseph was preparing to go away, because there arose a great disorder in Bethlehem by the coming of [*1] some wise men from the east,
2 Who said, Where is the king of the Jews born? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod heard this, he was exceedingly troubled, and sent messengers to the wise men, and to the priests, and inquired of them in the town-hall,
4 And said unto them, Where have you it written concerning Christ the king, or where should he be born?
5 Then they say unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea; for thus it is written: And thou Bethlehem in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah, for out of thee shall come a ruler, who shall rule my people Israel.
6 And having sent away the chief priests, he inquired of the men in the town-hall, and said unto them, What sign was it ye saw concerning the king that is born?
7 They answered him, We saw an extraordinary large star shining among the stars of heaven, and so out-shined all the other stars, as that they became not visible, and we knew thereby that a great king was born in Israel, and therefore we are come to worship him.
8 Then said Herod to them, Go and make diligent inquiry; and if ye find the child, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9 So the wise men went forth, and behold, the star which they saw in the east went before them, till it came and stood over the cave where the young child was with Mary his mother
10 Then they brought forth oat of their treasures, and offered unto him gold and frankincense, and myrrh.
11 And being warned in a dream by an angel, that they should not return to Herod through Judaea, they departed into their own country by another way.
1 Herod enraged, orders the infants in Bethlehem to be slain. 2 Mary puts her infant in an ox manger. 3 Elizabeth flees with her son John to the mountains. 6 A mountain miraculously divides and receives them. 9 Herod incensed at the escape of John, causes Zacharias to be murdered at the altar, 23 the roofs of the temple rent, the body miraculously conveyed, and the blood petrified. 25 Israel mourns for him. 27 Simeon chosen his successor by lot.
THEN Herod [*1] perceiving that e he was mocked by the wise men, and being very angry, commanded certain men to go and to kill all the children that were in Bethlehem, from two years old and under.
2 But Mary hearing that the children were to be killed, being under much fear, took the child, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in an ox-manger, [*2] because there was no room for them in the inn.
3 Elizabeth also, hearing that her son John was about to be searched for, took him and went up unto the mountains, and looked around for a place to hide him;
4 And there was no secret place to be found.
5 Then she groaned within herself, and said, O mountain of the Lord, receive the mother with the child.
6 For Elizabeth could not climb up.
7 And instantly the mountain was divided and received them.
8 And there appeared to them an angel of the Lord, to preserve them.
9 But Herod made search after John, and sent servants to Zacharias, when he was (ministering) at the altar, and said unto him, Where hast thou hid thy son?
10 He replied to them, I am a minister of God, and a servant at the altar; how should I know where my son is?
11 So the servants went back, and told Herod the whole; at which he was incensed, and said, Is not this son of his like to be king in Israel?
12 He sent therefore again his servants to Zacharias, saying, Tell us the truth, where is thy son, for you know that your life is in my hand.
13 So the servants went and told him all this:
14 But Zacharias replied to them, I am a martyr for God, and if he shed my blood, the Lord will receive my soul.
15 Besides know that ye shed innocent blood.
16 However Zacharias was murdered in the entrance of the temple and altar, and about the partition;
17 But the children of Israel knew not when he was killed.
18 Then at the hour of salutation the priests went into the temple, but Zacharias did not according to custom meet them and bless them;
19 Yet they still continued waiting for him to salute them;
20 And when they found he did not in a long time come, one of them ventured into the holy place where the altar was, and he saw blood lying upon the ground congealed;
21 When, behold, a voice from heaven said, Zacharias is murdered, and his blood shall not be wiped away, until the revenger of his blood come.
22 But when he heard this, he was afraid, and went forth and told the priests what he had seen and heard; and they all went in, and saw the fact.
23 Then the roofs of the temple howled, and were rent from the top to the bottom:
24 And they could not find the body, but only blood made hard like stone.
25 And they went awry, and told the people, that Zacharias was murdered, and all the tribes of Israel heard thereof, and mourned for him, and lamented three days. [*1]
26 Then the priests took counsel together concerning a person to succeed him.
27 And Simeon and the other priests cast lots, and the lot fell upon Simeon.
28 For he had been assured by the Holy Spirit, that he should not die, till he had seen Christ come in the flesh. [*1]
I James wrote this History in Jerusalem: and when the disturbance was I retired into a desert place, until the death of Herod. And the disturbance ceased at Jerusalem. That which remains is, that I glorify God that he hall; given me such wisdom to write unto you who are spiritual, and who love God: to whom (be ascribed) glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen.
^24:1 That is, gave as much more as he was obliged to give.
^25:1 In imitation of the forty days and nights fast of Moses, recorded Exod. xxiv. 11, xxxiv. 28; Deut. ix. 9; of Elijah, 1 Kings xix. 8; and Christ’s, Matt. iv. 2.
^25:2 Gen. xxi. 2.
^27:1 Such an instrument God had appointed the high-priest to wear for such discoveries. See Exod. xxviii. 36, &c., and Spencer de Urim et Thummim.
^27:2 Compare 1 Sam. ii., &c., with Luke i. 46.
^28:1 See Exod. xxviii. 22, &c.
^29:1 Luke i. 28, &c.
^30:1 Luke ii. 39, &c.
^31:1 See Matt. i. 18.
^32:1 Num. v. 18.
^32:2 Luke ii. 1.
^34:1 Matt. ii. 1, &c.
^35:1 Matt. ii. 16.
^35:2 Luke ii. 7 is alluded to, though misapplied as to time.
^36:1 There is a story both in the Jerusalem and Babylonish Talmud very similar to this. It is cited by Dr. Lightfoot, Talmud, Hierosol, in Taannith, fol. 69; and Talmud, Babyl. in Sanhedr., fol. 96. “Rabbi Jochanan said Eighty thousand priests were slain for the blood of Zacharias. Rabbi Judas asked Rabbi Achan, Where did they kill Zacharias? Was it in the woman’s court, or in the court of Israel? He answered: Neither in the court of Israel, nor in the court of women, but in the court of the priests; and they did not treat his blood in the same manner as they were wont to treat the blood of a ram or a young goat. For of these it is written, He shall pour out his blood, and cover it with dust. But it is written here, The blood is in the midst of her: she set it upon the top of the rock; she poured it not upon the ground. (Ezek. xxiv. 7.) But why was this? That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance: I have set his blood upon the top of a rock, that it should not be covered. They committed seven evils that day: they murdered a priest, a prophet, and a [p. 37] king; they shed the blood of the innocent: they polluted the court: that day was the Sabbath: and the day of expiation. When therefore Nebuzaradan came there (viz. Jerusalem), he saw his blood bubbling, and said to them, What meaneth this? They answered It is the blood of calves, lambs, and rams, which we have offered upon the altar. He commanded then, that they should bring calves, and lambs, and rams, and said I will try whether this be their blood: accordingly they brought and slew them, but the blood of (Zacharias) still bubbled, but the blood of these did not bubble. Then he said, Declare to me the truth of the matter, or else I will comb your flesh with iron combs. Then said they to him, He was a priest, prophet, and judge, who prophesied to Israel all these calamities which we have suffered from you; but we arose against him, and slew him. Then, said he, I will appease him: then he took the rabbins and slew them upon his (viz. Zacharias’s) blood, and he was not yet appeased. Next he took the young boys from the schools, and slew them upon his blood, and yet it bubbled. Then he brought the young priests and slew them in the same place, and yet it still bubbled. So he slew at length ninety-four thousand persons upon his blood, and it did not as yet cease bubbling. Then he drew near to it, and said, O Zacharias, Zacharias, thou hast occasioned the death of the chief of thy countrymen; shall I slay them all? then the blood ceased, and did bubble no more.”
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