The “traditional interpretation” of the story of Jesus’ birth gets many obvious things wrong. The image of Joseph and a 9-month pregnant Mary, riding by themselves, pulling into Bethlehem during the snowstorm night of December 24th, going from inn to inn, and then Mary giving birth by herself in a stable, doesn’t work. Using Matthew and Luke, and the proper interpretation of words, we get the following:
1) Joseph puts everything on the line – reputation, standing in the community, etc – because of his love for Mary. He doesn’t want to make her “a public example”, so he puts her “away privily” (i.e. privately out of view).
2) The way he does this is by taking her away from Nazareth, probably before her 5th month or so when she really begins showing. Nazareth is in Galilee, Bethlehem is just outside Jerusalem and we know she is near Jerusalem because she meets with her cousin Elizabeth, who’s husband is a priest at the temple in Jerusalem.
3) We are told that Joseph traveled to Bethlehem because that’s were his “house and lineage” is, i.e. brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc. In the time of Mary, giving birth was the single most dangerous thing a woman would do in her lifetime. Joseph brought her down safely with his kin long before she was due, with people who loved him and would not mock Mary as they did in Nazareth.
4) From archaeological digs, we know that houses in the village of Bethlehem during the time of Jesus where typically 3-level, and often built into the hills. The lowest level was for the animals, the next level was for living/cooking. The top level was for sleeping and was referred to as the “inn”.
5) Mary, then, in the spring of the year – while surrounded with support and loved ones -gave birth to Jesus in the sleeping area of the home, who was then “wrapped in swaddling cloths”, taken downstairs and “laid in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (to sleep).
Thanks, "Larryco" for sharing it.