And it Came to Pass… Luke 2: 1-20

The blessings of this night be with you, and may beauty and wonder fill your days.

l And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.*

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


Or in the Vulgate: 13 Et subito facta est cum angelo multitudo militiæ cælestis laudantium Deum, et dicentium:

14 [Gloria in altissimis Deo,
et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis.]

Or as is more commonly translated: “Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax…”

*Some translations have “peace on Earth, good will toward men with whom He is well pleased.” Which leaves one wondering… is G-d pleased with all men, or is the good will only toward those He is pleased with? As a child I wondered, but never quite worked up the nerve to ask a priest or pastor.


11 thoughts on “And it Came to Pass… Luke 2: 1-20

  1. Then as now, the animals were probably kept better and in cleaner conditions than human servants or slaves. A carpenter and family, a skilled craftsman who’s literate and numerate, would get a clean place and probably requests for a little help,

    Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.

    Blessings and peace to all. Family coming over, and later I need to begin warming up.

  2. Engenetou, de,
    en tais hemerais ekeinais,
    dogma para Kaisaros Augoustou,
    pa~san ten

    Greek is cool. Luke is cool.

    I mean, yes, a lot of this is just standard grammatical endings and prose. But the arrangement of sounds and syllables in a pleasing way, one that is easy to remember and fun to say, is just this side of Greek poetry and song. When you hear somebody read the Bible in Hebrew, you get the same kind of fun.

    Also, I think it is totally hilarious that the most complete historical research into Roman censuses and tax registration has pretty much confirmed that Luke knew what he was talking about. (Shockingly enough, given that his first readers would have remembered a lot of this stuff happening to them, and were as familiar with Roman tax law as we Americans are with April 15th.)

  3. Okay, looking at the Greek… Because yeah, the Latin is a tad ambiguous, probably on purpose, because Jerome’s Latin is big into implying mutual relationships whenever he translates stuff related to God’s covenant/s.

    Doxa en hypsistois
    kai epi ges,
    eirene en anthropois

    Or… there’s a different version that has it as “en anthropois eudokia.” Apparently the King James Bible guys had that version.

    So if you have version 1, “eudokias,” it’s a feminine genitive singular, “humans of the good thought/favor/intention/desire/satisfaction/good reputation/comfort.” And the assumption is that it’s the humans having good intent who are being given peace — presumably by the sign, the baby in the manger, who was just mentioned by the speaker angel. So it’s “upon the earth, peace to men of goodwill,” and the song seems to parallel “in the highest places” and “upon the earth.” That’s the “hominibus bonae voluntatis” version.

    But if version 2 is correct, and it’s “eudokia”, it’s a feminine nominative singular. In this case, you take it as a song of three phrases: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, [and] goodwill among humans.”

    Both versions are found in antiquity, along with some other variations, so nobody can make a definite answer.

    So yeah… it’s kinda up for grabs.

    It is of course possible that the angels sang both versions, or that different humans heard slightly different versions because they were both true; or that both versions constitute inspired Scripture, since both versions were preserved liturgically in Greek-speaking churches….

  4. There’s a book I have “Jesus Through Middle-Eastern Eyes” by Kenneth Bailey, a guy who has lived over there and seen the houses. He includes a diagram, even. “s.Such simple homes cane be traced from the time of David up to the middle of the twentieth century. [inserted diagram] the elongated circles represent mangers dug out of the lower end of the living room.” So he wasn’t born in a stable he was born in the living room and placed in the hollowed out manger in the floor. Bailey goes on about the language used and how it clearly means a private room in the house, not a commercial inn. Especially since Luke uses the same term in ch 22 in the instructions about where to find a place for the Last Supper.
    “To summarize, a part of what Luke tells us about the birth of Jesus is that the holy family traveled to Bethlehem, where they were received into a private home. The child was born, wrapped and (literally) “put to bed” (anaklinō) in the living room in the manger that was either built into the floor or made of wood and moved into the family living space. Why weren’t they invited into the family guest room, the reader might naturally ask? The answer is that the guest room was already occupied by other guests. The host family graciously accepted Mary and Joseph into the family room of their house”

    A rather different take than the traditional, but considering people and how even today people go out of their way for pregnant women, I find this highly plausible.

  5. Forgot the third side of the question, which shows up in a lot of modern Bibles…. There’s a Hebrew expression found in some of the Qumran texts, which is also in some Aramaic and Coptic/Sahidic stuff, about certain people being “men of His goodwill” or “men of His good pleasure”. And that’s where the “men with whom God is pleased” stuff comes from — translators who assume that’s what the angels were saying.

    I love looking stuff up! But I don’t think it’s necessary to make any hard and fast decisions about which interpretation is right. I take a wait and see position toward this sort of thing.

    • Agreed. There’s a lot of context that we are missing, both historical and spiritual. “OK, this made perfect sense when it was written down, but…” Like the rabbi/environmental historian sighing over losing the precise meanings for the Hebrew words that are all translated as “waste/ desert.” Back in the day, the differences were important. But no one now knows exactly what they were!

  6. I’m up a bit earlier than family on this day of His birth, in need of stretching and something to ease the swelling in shoulder.

    That’s some important context of the historical record, not often applied correctly to Biblival study, and good to consider. May we all be worthy to one day understand the meanings, on that day when all is revealed in His presence.

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