The Incarnation of Hesed
The Incarnation of Hesed
On the first day of our tour in Israel after we stopped at the Sheep Fold (see blog post), we journeyed to Taybeh (pronounced Tie-bay’) northeast of Jerusalem. We saw sheep along the road finding grass amidst the rocky terrain.
All photos in this blog were taken by me (Beth Ann). We will soon share photos taken by the tour photographers (Jeff Jones and Lauren Koske).
Taybeh was formerly Ephraim (see John 11:54). In Old Testament times, Taybeh was called Ophrah, a city of the tribe of Benjamin (see Joshua 18:23). Today, Taybeh is a small Christian village in the middle of Muslim and Israeli villages where Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and other communities live and celebrate together peacefully. At this time of year, we saw lots of Christmas decorations.
We stopped in the courtyard of a Roman Catholic church where, behind an old door, there is an entrance to a 3-level home (claimed to be 2,000 years old) that would have been a typical 1st century Judean dwelling similar to where Mary would have given birth to Jesus. If you look closely to the photo (below), you can see these 3 levels:
- Main floor – You can see 3 steps that lead up to the main living area on the left side of this dwelling. This is where the entire family would live and sleep.
- Upper room – Then, you can see a doorway on the left-middle near the shaft of light. This doorway leads to an upper room where guests would stay.
- Lower level – If you look at the path at the entrance that goes back on the right, you’ll see a large arched doorway. This door leads to a large, lower area with a dirt floor where the family would keep their animals during the night. The animals would most likely include sheep.
1st Century Judean Home
A closer look at the 1st-century upper room
In the two photos below, you can see the entrance to the lower level, as well as the lower-level room:
I don’t know, because the Scripture doesn’t say, but it is likely that other women were attending Mary and providing blankets for a bed and other provisions. The Lamb of God was born surrounded by resting lambs and sheep at night. Maybe they had the lower level to themselves during the day. Maybe it was not stinky, because (I am learning as I try to detox my environment) that bacteria cannot live in wool and wool is very warm and healthy. The ultimate rug or blanket is made of wool. So, to be surrounding by wooly sheep would be very warm. Well, if any of you know me well, you know that this information blows a hole in my nativity display. What shall I do now… build a Judean home out of limestone with a lower level? I wish my Dad were alive to help me. He would have loved the challenge!
At this point, I loved how our tour guide, Dr. David Miller, spoke of the difference between blessings and gifts. He said, whether we get the job or don’t get the job, we are blessed, because God’s presence and fellowship in our lives is THE ultimate blessing. But then God gives gifts. Sometimes when we want to say, “Are you serious, God, really? Are you kidding me?” as we might have said in Mary’s circumstances, God ends up surprising us with a gift, a perfect provision.
Is my unwelcome circumstance actually a gift, a provision? Is there anything in my life that tempts me to say, “Really God? This doesn’t make sense,” or “This doesn’t seem right or fair.” Could it actually be His perfect provision for His purpose to flourish in my life, in His desire to fellowship with you/me/us? Could it be His love instead? His hesed?
Blessings, rest, warmth and love in Him,
Shale Fragments™ - devotionals by Beth Ann Phifer is a division of Flower Girl Greetings, LLC. ©2020, All Rights Reserved.
Thank you for sharing this, Beth Ann! What a great thought to chew on regarding the difference between blessings and gifts. I know I tend to lump them altogether. Also, seeing that home is really neat. If you make a "revised" nativity, you'll have to post a picture!! (I may want to buy one from you, too!) ;-)
We have had the gift of being able to go on 3 study trips to Israel and were transformed by each and every one! Thank you for sharing the insights you've gleaned so that many can benefit from your experience! Keep sharing!