No room at the inn

 

RECENT exploration of an unidentified (for security reasons) site in the Middle-East is alleged to have uncovered scrolls which appear to date from around the first century AD and would seem to be records of interviews with local people by officials of the time investigating widespread rumours concerning unusual events in Judea and Galilee.

[DISCLAIMER] Provenance of these scrolls has yet to be established and extracts are printed here strictly on that basis.

Look, remember I was only a kid at the time. It was my dad that ran the inn then though by the time you’re ten years old you’re having to do you share and I knew pretty much most of the business.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that some of the stories you hear aren’t quite what really happened. I mean, they did happen but not quite in the way they’ve been told. There’s been a bit of re-writing of history going on and I think that’s a shame because as far as I’m concerned, this baby turned out to be everything that was promised and more.

Yes, I believe he was the Messiah. I don’t quite understand what that means and I don’t think anyone else does either but I believe he did come here to save us and open a new life after death and if I’m wrong about that I’ll never know, will I? So who cares if I’ve got it wrong.

But can we go back to the beginning, to the whole census thing?

First of all, the bit about everyone having to go back to the place their family came from was where it all started to go wrong. Can you imagine if that had been literally true? For a start the inn would have been shut. Dad would have been off back to Bethesda. Mum came from Hebron. What a mess all that would have been!

No, this part of the census was all about who owned what bits of land. Nice and easy stuff to tax is land; it stays still! There were days set aside when the landowner had to be there to identify his property and Joseph still owned a field near Bethlehem.

You have to understand that we’re pretty poor around here. Jacob – that’s Joseph’s father – owned a bit of land and a few sheep and scratched a living on that like most of us but Joseph was always good with his hands so his old man sent him off to a cousin in Nazareth who was a carpenter to learn that trade. And pretty good he turned out to be. When Jacob died, Joseph was the only son so he inherited the land but left his cousin Enoch to work it.

That explains the bit about why Joseph and his wife had to come to Bethlehem.

They turned up one afternoon looking for lodgings since the old house had long since crumbled to nothing much but by that time we were full up and there was never a chance of finding accomodation for Mary who in dad’s opinion should never have been asked to make the journey in her condition. He told Joseph so in no uncertain terms but Joseph just shrugged him off and said it was for the best.

Joseph asked if the old stable — actually a cave in the hillside — was empty and dad said he thought Enoch was using it for the ox he used for ploughing his own land and Joseph’s bit so Joseph went off to have a look and came back saying they would sleep there.

And that started another row, as you can imagine. But Joseph was quite determined. The ox was tethered and there was plenty of room and clean straw and if dad could lend them a couple of blankets and a bit of kindling, they’d be fine. Though he did say that if Mary started to have the baby he’d get a message to dad and would he ask one of the wise women to go along and help.

Well we all know what happened.

So you see the story about the stable and there being no room at the inn is true enough but it’s not quite as bad as it was made out. Certainly having the Messiah being born among poor people isn’t what the priests were expecting though I’m not sure what it was they were expecting but it’s not as if we’re the very poorest. I mean, Joseph was a skilled craftsman and well enough off to own a donkey which some round here would have killed for.

Basically, the Messiah came to save ordinary people and from what I know of him he was most comfortable with ordinary people for all his life. You’ve probably heard some of the things he had to say about rich people and about the Pharisees so it’s no surprise to us that he was born among people like us.

Strange when you think about it. There’s Augustus who fancied himself as a god actually arranging things with that stupid census of his so that the real Son of God could be born where the scriptures say he was going to be born.

Or maybe it wasn’t Augustus who arranged it, at that!

Are you planning to stay for a day or two? If so I’ll tell you a tale about some shepherds that will surprise you.

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