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Message of the Day: God’s Hand Directing Joseph and Mary to Fulfill His Plan of Redemption

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.” (Luke 2:4-5, NKJV)

The town of Bethlehem is located six miles south of Jerusalem. Bethlehem was called Ephrath in Jacob’s time and was the burial place of Rachel (Genesis 35:16, 19; 48:7). It was the home of Ibzan, the tenth Judge (Judges 12:8– 10); of Elimelech, the father–in–law of Ruth (Ruth 1:1–2), as well as of Boaz, her husband (2:1, 4). David was anointed king by Samuel in Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:13, 15), which is why it was also known as “the city of David” (Luke 2:4, 11). Here the Messiah was born (Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:1–7), which is how this town, which was “small among the clans of Judah” (Micah 5:2), achieved its great fame.

Bethlehem, the town where David was born (1 Sam. 17:12; 20:6), was at least a three-day trip from Nazareth. Judea was the Greco-Roman designation for the southern part of the Holy Land, earlier included in the kingdom of Judah. The Messiah is to be of the family of David and is to be born in Bethlehem. But the chosen parents live in Nazareth, 100 miles from Bethlehem. A decree of Rome requires them to go to Bethlehem just as the child is about to be born. Thus God makes the decree of a pagan empire the instrument for fulfilling His prophecies.

Mary too was of the house of David and probably was required to enroll. In Syria, the Roman province in which the Holy Land was located, women 12 years of age and older were required to pay a poll tax and therefore to register. There was no necessity for Mary to have gone to Bethlehem, as Joseph’s presence could have answered the end proposed in The Census as well without Mary, his betrothed wife, as with her; but God so ordered it, that the prophecy of Micah 5:2 should be thus fulfilled, and that Jesus should be born in the city of David.

We see here, God’s hand directing the lives of Joseph and Mary so as to fulfill his plan of redemption, using the betrothed couple and the census.


Halley, Henry H. Halley’s Bible Handbook. ePub Format. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2000.

MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2019.

Olive Tree Bible Software, 1998-2020.

Zonderva NASB Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: 1999.

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