Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Where was Jesus born?
The prophet Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born in this little town near Jerusalem: "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days" (Micah 5:2).
God's sovereignty is evident here as Jesus's mother and her fiancé Joseph were from Nazareth, not Bethlehem. Why would they go to Bethlehem with Mary so close to giving birth? It so happens that Caesar Augustus ordered everyone under Roman rule to be counted. To do that, each person was ordered to go where their ancestors were from for the census. Joseph's family was from Bethlehem, so he took his fiancée Mary and traveled there to be counted. You can read this story in Matthew 1:18–25, 2:1–12, Luke 1:26–38, and 2:1–20.
We read that when they arrived, it was difficult, if not impossible, to find someplace to stay due to the crowds. Because we know Jesus was born then placed in a manger (a trough for feeding livestock), it appears Joseph and Mary could only find a barn, stable, or some type of shelter used for animals to spend the night.
Shepherds used fields for their animals, but any place that served as an inn would have a stable of sorts. Additionally, most private homes had a lower level, or attached structure, where personal livestock was kept. It could be that Joseph and Mary were invited to stay at someone's home, but had to stay in the stable area due to crowding above. Luke uses the Greek word for guest house or home (kataluma) when describing the place where there was no proper room for them to stay.
Another theory has Jesus born in a more symbolic place in Bethlehem. In the northern part of the town there was a watchtower named Migdol Eder. Under the watchtower was a shelter that shepherds used to pen newly born lambs for holding until they could be taken to Jerusalem and sacrificed at the temple. Micah mentions this place in 4:8: "And you, O tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem." This explains better how the shepherds knew where to go when the angel told them the Savior was born and He would be found in a manger. Did they have to look in the personal livestock holding area of every home in Bethlehem, or did they go directly to the place they would have taken their lambs? It is also a fitting place for the Lamb of God to be born.
Whether in an indoor animal shelter, an outdoor stable, or a tower used for newly born lambs, the Bible clearly indicates that Jesus—the Son of God who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords—was born in humble circumstances in the town of Bethlehem.
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