I recently learned of another exciting insight to add to this beautiful article. I may have some of the details a tad off, so correct and forgive my errors, but as I understood it, the shepherds would have been the shepherds that cared for the sheep that were used for the temple sacrifices in Jerusalem. They would take the first born male lambs and clean them off in a manger with special swaddling cloths given them by the temple priests. Those special lambs were for passover. Jesus IS the passover lamb. When the shepherds saw Jesus in a manger (it would have been stone) wrapped in swaddling clothes used for sacrificial lambs prepared for sacrifice, that was how they knew HE, the baby, was the fulfillment of Isaiah 53. That is why it was a sign to them.
From the book Beloved Bridegroom by Donna Nielson: Meanwhile, the bride was also busy making preparations for her future and the new life she would share with her husband. There was wedding clothing to prepare, including much elaborate colorful embroidery. Swaddling bands were also to be embroidered with symbols indicating family history and genealogy. According to ancient and modern custom, the embroidery, to be acceptable, must be exactly the same on both sides. This was a type showing that the outward life and the inner life were the same-they were never to have a "wrong side" to their character. Under the wedding canopy, these decorated bands would be tied around the clasped right hands on the bride and groom; hence the saying, "They tied the knot." These bands would later be used to fasten the swaddling clothes of their children.
Nielsen, DOnna. Beloved Bridegroom . Onyx Press. Kindle Edition. Location 551
And yet how many artists paint the new-born infant naked? Even the painting for this story has Him with bare shoulders and chest. And of course the Wise Men never appeared at the manger either, but that's a whole different subject. Thanks for the information in this article.
Yours is a very interesting and maybe significant essay. Certainly a good study. I wouldn’t wonder that in preparation for the birth Mary may have decorated some of the swaddling strips with embroidery or symbols of the tribe of Judah or even woven with Judah’s colors for certain wrapping positions, the head piece for example. A Star of David may have been too bold but she knew he was David’s heir. Today’s receiving blankets seem to be for the same purpose and are colored for the gender, blue and pink. We think white, but linen would have been a poor cloth for warmth, more likely wool therefore earth colors. Thanks again for your thoughtful contribution.
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