Luke 2:7, No Room at the Inn

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.

//This verse is about the birth of Jesus, of course. The story in Luke is that Jesus had to be born in the manger, because there was no room in the inn. There was no room because a decree from Caesar required all Jews to return to the city of their lineage for a tax census. Joseph, Jesus’ father, had to go to Bethlehem because he was of the lineage of David, who was a Bethlehemite.

Ever wonder how many Jews had to go to Bethlehem for this census? How many descendants of David would be alive after fifty generations? If they all lived, of course, it would number in the billions. But they didn’t; Wikipedia tells us that there were about 3.5 million Jews at the time of Jesus.

We can work with that number, though. How many of these 3.5 million came from David? He had 19 sons that we know of. God only knows how many kids David’s son Solomon had, with his hundreds of wives and concubines and his legendary sexual prowess. But for now, let’s concentrate on just King David. If archaeological estimates are correct that David reigned over a nation of about 20,000 people, that would be about 10,000 males, and David and his sons accounted for 20 of them – .1%.

So, if estimates of the number of Jewish descendants in the time of Jesus are correct at 3.5 million, then a rough guess is that .1%, or 3,500, were descendants of David alone.

If Bethlehem housed around 300 people, and had 3,500 descendants of David alone traveling there for registration, then how many thousands more would there be? This number doesn’t even count anyone else living in Bethlehem at the time of David! No wonder there was no room at the inn for Joseph and Mary.

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