And she brought forth her firstborn son
At Bethlehem, as was predicted; and the Jews themselves own, that the Messiah is already born, and born at Bethlehem. They have a tradition, that an Arabian should say to a Jew F11
``Lo! the king Messiah is born; he said to him, what is his name? Menachem: he asked him, what is his father's name? he replied to him, Hezekiah; he said unto him, from whence is he? he answered, from the palace of the king of Bethlehem.''Which is elsewhere F12 reported, with some little variation; the Arabian said to the Jew,
``the Redeemer of the Jews is born; he said unto him, what is his name? he replied, Menachem is his name: and what is his father's name? he answered, Hezekiah: he said unto him, and where do they dwell? he replied, in Birath Arba, in Bethlehem.''And the Jewish chronologer affirms F13, that
``Jesus the Nazarene, was born at Bethlehem Judah, a "parsa" and a half from Jerusalem.''And even the author of the blasphemous book of the life of Christ owns F14, that
``Bethlehem Judah was the place of his nativity.''Jesus is called Mary's firstborn, because she had none before him; though she might not have any after him; for the first that opened the matrix, was called the firstborn, though none followed after, and was holy to the Lord, ( Exodus 13:2 ) . Christ, as to his human nature; was Mary's firstborn; and as to his divine nature, God's firstborn:
and wrapped him in swaddling clothes;
which shows, that he was in all things made like unto us, sin only excepted. This is one of the first things done to a new born infant, after that it is washed, and its navel cut; see ( Ezekiel 16:4 ) and which Mary did herself, having neither midwife nor nurse with her; from whence it has been concluded, that the birth of Jesus was easy, and that she brought him forth without pain, and not in that sorrow women usually do;
and laid him in a manger.
The Persic version serves for a comment; "she put him into the middle of the manger, in the place in which they gave food to beasts; because in the place whither they came, they had no cradle": this shows the meanness of our Lord's birth, and into what a low estate he came; and that now, as afterwards, though Lord of all, yet had not where to lay his head in a proper place; and expresses his amazing grace, in that he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor: and the reason of his being here laid was,
because there was no room for them in the inn.
It seems that Joseph had no house of his own to go into, nor any relation and friend to receive him: and it may be, both his own father and Mary's father were dead, and therefore were obliged to put up at an inn; and in this there was no room for them, because of the multitude that were come thither to be enrolled: and this shows their poverty and meanness, and the little account that was made of them; for had they been rich, and made any considerable figure, they would have been regarded, and room made for them; especially since Mary was in the circumstances she was; and it was brutish in them to turn them into a stable, when such was her case.
F11 T. Hieros. Berncot, fol. 5. 1.
F12 Echa Rabbati, fol. 50. 1.
F13 David Ganz, ut supra. (par. 2. fol. 14. 2.)
F14 Toldos Jesu, p. 7.