And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
And the angel said to them,
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Luke 2:8-20 ESV
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
From the Gospel of Luke we know that Jesus was laid in a manger in Bethlehem.
But do you know what a manger looked like at that time? Most of the Nativity Sets that we see today do not give accurate depictions.
A manger is most often depicted as made of wood.
At the time of the birth of Jesus, a manger would have been made of clay or stone.
Here is an example of a manger from an earlier time period. This picture was taken at Megiddo. You can see that it is quite a bit different from what we usually see depicted today.
Here is a picture taken from above. You can see that the stone has been hollowed out and it is about the right size for cradling a baby.
Mangers were also carved out of natural rock formations, which may have been the case in the grotto that is beneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Here the manger is made from marble, but of course was constructed much later.
There was a lady with the group of tourists just ahead of us who had a little baby doll that she laid in the manger before praying over it. She did the same at the traditional birthplace which was just a few meters away.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
See my post O Little Town for more pictures from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.