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Christmas Story

Family Traveling in Galilee

As we made our way through Galilee, in the month of May, 1894, we met on the road a family as you see in the picture. A box is strapped on each side of the mule; a woman holding an umbrella is in one box and two bright-faced little children are in the other. The husband rides sidewise upon a donkey, holding to the mule by a line made up of chain and rope. This family probably belongs to the higher classes among the peasantry of the country. One of our editors, passing through this region in 1887, saw another family riding southward with camel and horses, the woman riding aloft and swaying from side to side on their "ship of the desert." It was in the days of Christ that families journeyed in this way from one end of the land to the other. (Source: Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee, p. 134.)

An Example of a Peasant's Home, with Its Manger, in a Village of Palestine

The Chapel of the Manger [in the Church of the Nativity, not pictured here] appears to have been a rude grotto hewn out of the side of the rock, and may once have been connected with a dwelling-house or a stable, or had some access for cattle, though the whole site has been so altered in shape by building that it is difficult to form any decided opinion. Very often in the ruined cities of the hill country we find several rooms hewn out of the side of the hill, and a large open cavern adjoining, evidently intended for the cattle. In some, as at Tekoa, and across Jordan, near Arak el Emir, the mangers still existing leave no doubt as to their use. (Source: Picturesque Palestine, vol. 1, pp. 124-125.)

The Shepherds' Fields, Bethlehem

Beyond them, one of the reverend fathers will point out the spot, on the border of the wilderness, where the shepherds were abiding with their flocks by night, when "the angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them…And the angel said unto them, Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people." From that spot the "good tidings"-the God spell, the GOSPEL-were borne far and wide, until, in our day, they sweep round the Earth. In Bethlehem, looking out on that upland plain, we seem to realize the first outburst of the heavenly message, and to feel more intensely its inspiring power. (Source: Jerusalem, Bethany, and Bethlehem, p. 119.)

Road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem

The Wise Men arrived in Jerusalem from the Far East asking the question which was strange and startling tidings to Herod and to the people of Jerusalem . . . .And "when they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was." Our view above of the present road to Bethlehem is very fine, as it presents the present appearance of the highway from the Jaffa gate to the gate of Bethlehem.  . . . The picture looks toward the south. We stand just outside the Jaffa gate on the west. Beyond us are the hills of Judea. (Source: Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee, p. 33.)