I love the Nativity! I’ve always felt a sense of awe and wonder in reading about Jesus’ birth. As I’ve grown, I’ve enjoyed finding Apocryphal versions of the story. And while there are obvious biases based on the translator’s theological slant and discrepancies amongst the stories, they are interesting. Below are three Apocryphal Nativity stories pulled from their respective Gospels.


The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior


2. In the three hundred and ninth year of the era of Alexander, Augustus put forth an edict, that every man should be enrolled in his native place.  Joseph therefore arose, and taking Mary his spouse, went away to Jerusalem, and came to Bethlehem, to be enrolled along with his family in his native city.  And having come to a cave, Mary told Joseph that the time of the birth was at hand, and that she could not go into the city; but, said she, let us go into this cave.  This took place at sunset.  And Joseph went out in haste to go for a woman to be near her.  When, therefore, he was busy about that, he saw an Hebrew old woman belonging to Jerusalem, and said:  Come hither, my good woman, and go into this cave, in which there is a woman near her time.


3.  Wherefore, after sunset, the old woman, and Joseph with her, came to the cave, and they both went in.  And, behold, it was filled with lights more beautiful than the gleaming of lamps and candles, and more splendid than the light of the sun.  The child, enwrapped in swaddling clothes, was sucking the breast of the Lady Mary His mother, being placed in a stall.  And when both were wondering at this light, the old woman asks the Lady Mary:  Art thou the mother of this Child? 


And when the Lady Mary gave her assent, she says:  Thou art not at all like the daughters of Eve.  The Lady Mary said:  As my son has no equal among children, so his mother has no equal among women.  The old woman replied:  My mistress, I came to get payment; I have been for a long time affected with palsy.  Our mistress the Lady Mary said to her:  Place thy hands upon the child.  And the old woman did so, and was immediately cured.  Then she went forth, saying:  Henceforth I will be the attendant and servant of this child all the days of my life.



Then came shepherds…

4.  Then came shepherds; and when they had lighted a fire, and were rejoicing greatly, there appeared to them the hosts of heaven praising and celebrating God Most High.  And while the shepherds were doing the same, the cave was at that time made like a temple of the upper world, since both heavenly and earthly voices glorified and magnified God on account of the birth of the Lord Christ.  And when that old Hebrew woman saw the manifestation of those miracles, she thanked God, saying:  I give Thee thanks, O God, the God of Israel, because mine eyes have seen the birth of the Saviour of the world.


The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew


Now it came to pass, when she was fourteen years old, and on this account there was occasion for the Pharisees’ saying that it was now a custom that no woman of that age should abide in the temple of God, they fell upon the plan of sending a herald through all the tribes of Israel, that on the third day all should come together into the temple of the Lord.  And when all the people had come together, Abiathar the high priest rose, and mounted on a higher step, that he might be seen and heard by all the people; and when great silence had been obtained, he said: 


Hear me, O sons of Israel, and receive my words into your ears.  Ever since this temple was built by Solomon, there have been in it virgins, the daughters of kings and the daughters of prophets, and of high priests and priests; and they were great, and worthy of admiration.  But when they came to the proper age they were given in marriage, and followed the course of their mothers before them, and were pleasing to God.  But a new order of life has been found out by Mary alone, who promises that she will remain a virgin to God.  Wherefore it seems to me, that through our inquiry and the answer of God we should try to ascertain to whose keeping she ought to be entrusted. 


Then these words found favour with all the synagogue.  And the lot was cast by the priests upon the twelve tribes, and the lot fell upon the tribe of Judah.  And the priest said:  To-morrow let every one who has no wife come, and bring his rod in his hand.  Whence it happened that Joseph brought his rod along with the young men.  And the rods having been handed over to the high priest, he offered a sacrifice to the Lord God, and inquired of the Lord.  And the Lord said to him:  Put all their rods into the holy of holies of God, and let them remain there, and order them to come to thee on the morrow to get back their rods; and the man from the point of whose rod a dove shall come forth, and fly towards heaven, and in whose hand the rod, when given back, shall exhibit this sign, to him let Mary be delivered to be kept.


Joseph Is Chosen


On the following day, then, all having assembled early, and an incense-offering having been made, the high priest went into the holy of holies, and brought forth the rods.  And when he had distributed the rods, and the dove came forth out of none of them, the high priest put on the twelve bells  and the sacerdotal robe; and entering into the holy of holies, he there made a burnt-offering, and poured forth a prayer. 


And the angel of the Lord appeared to him, saying:  There is here the shortest rod, of which thou hast made no account:  thou didst bring it in with the rest, but didst not take it out with them.  When thou hast taken it out, and hast given it him whose it is, in it will appear the sign of which I spoke to thee.  Now that was Joseph’s rod; and because he was an old man, he had been cast off, as it were, that he might not receive her, but neither did he himself wish to ask back his rod. 


And when he was humbly standing last of all, the high priest cried out to him with a loud voice, saying:  Come, Joseph, and receive thy rod; for we are waiting for thee.  And Joseph came up trembling, because the high priest had called him with a very loud voice.  But as soon as he stretched forth his hand, and laid hold of his rod, immediately from the top of it came forth a dove whiter than snow, beautiful exceedingly, which, after long flying about the roofs of the temple, at length flew towards the heavens. 




Then all the people congratulated the old man, saying:  Thou hast been made blessed in thine old age, O father Joseph, seeing that God hath shown thee to be fit to receive Mary.  And the priests having said to him, Take her, because of all the tribe of Judah thou alone hast been chosen by God; Joseph began bashfully to address them, saying:  I am an old man, and have children; why do you hand over to me this infant, who is younger than my grandsons?  Then Abiathar the high priest said to him:  Remember, Joseph, how Dathan and Abiron and Core perished, because they despised the will of God.  So will it happen to thee, if thou despise this which is commanded thee by God. 


Joseph answered him:  I indeed do not despise the will of God; but I shall be her guardian until I can ascertain concerning the will of God, as to which of my sons can have her as his wife.  Let some virgins of her companions, with whom she may meanwhile spend her time, be given for a consolation to her.  Abiathar the high priest answered and said:  Five virgins indeed shall be given her for consolation, until the appointed day come in which thou mayst receive her; for to no other can she be joined in marriage.


Then Joseph received Mary, with the other five virgins who were to be with her in Joseph’s house.  These virgins were Rebecca, Sephora, Susanna, Abigea, and Cael; to whom the high priest gave the silk, and the blue, and the fine linen, and the scarlet, and the purple, and the fine flax.  For they cast lots among themselves what each virgin should do, and the purple for the veil of the temple of the Lord fell to the lot of Mary. 


And when she had got it, those virgins said to her:  Since thou art the last, and humble, and younger than all, thou hast deserved to receive and obtain the purple.  And thus saying, as it were in words of annoyance, they began to call her queen of virgins.  While, however, they were so doing, the angel of the Lord appeared in the midst of them, saying:  These words shall not have been uttered by way of annoyance, but prophesied as a prophecy most true.  They trembled, therefore, at the sight of the angel, and at his words, and asked her to pardon them, and pray for them.


Blessed Art Thou Among Women


And on the second day, while Mary was at the fountain to fill her pitcher, the angel of the Lord appeared to her, saying:  Blessed art thou, Mary; for in thy womb thou hast prepared an habitation for the Lord.  For, lo, the light from heaven shall come and dwell in thee, and by means of thee will shine over the whole world.


Again, on the third day, while she was working at the purple with her fingers, there entered a young man of ineffable beauty.  And when Mary saw him, she exceedingly feared and trembled.  And he said to her:  Hail, Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee:  blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.  And when she heard these words, she trembled, and was exceedingly afraid.  Then the angel of the Lord added:  Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favour with God:  Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a King, who fills not only the earth, but the heaven, and who reigns from generation to generation.


Joseph’s Discovery


While these things were doing, Joseph was occupied with his work, house-building, in the districts by the sea-shore; for he was a carpenter.  And after nine months he came back to his house, and found Mary pregnant.  Wherefore, being in the utmost distress, he trembled and cried out, saying:  O Lord God, receive my spirit; for it is better for me to die than to live any longer. 




And the virgins who were with Mary said to him:  Joseph, what art thou saying?  We know that no man has touched her; we can testify that she is still a virgin, and untouched.  We have watched over her; always has she continued with us in prayer; daily do the angels of God speak with her; daily does she receive food from the hand of the Lord.  We know not how it is possible that there can be any sin in her. 


But if thou wishest us to tell thee what we suspect, nobody but the angel of the Lord has made her pregnant.  Then said Joseph:  Why do you mislead me, to believe that an angel of the Lord has made her pregnant?  But it is possible that some one has pretended to be an angel of the Lord, and has beguiled her.  And thus speaking, he wept, and said:  With what face shall I look at the temple of the Lord, or with what face shall I see the priests of God?  What am I to do?  And thus saying, he thought that he would flee, and send her away.


And when he was thinking of rising up and hiding himself, and dwelling in secret, behold, on that very night, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in sleep, saying:  Joseph, thou son of David, fear not; receive Mary as thy wife:  for that which is in her womb is of the Holy Spirit.  And she shall bring forth a son, and His name shall be called Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.  And Joseph, rising from his sleep, gave thanks to God, and spoke to Mary and the virgins who were with her, and told them his vision.  And he was comforted about Mary, saying:  I have sinned, in that I suspected thee at all.


The Trials


After these things there arose a great report that Mary was with child.  And Joseph was seized by the officers of the temple, and brought along with Mary to the high priest.  And he with the priests began to reproach him, and to say:  Why hast thou beguiled so great and so glorious a virgin, who was fed like a dove in the temple by the angels of God, who never wished either to see or to have a man, who had the most excellent knowledge of the law of God?  If thou hadst not done violence to her, she would still have remained in her virginity.  And Joseph vowed, and swore that he had never touched her at all.  And Abiathar the high priest answered him:  As the Lord liveth, I will give thee to drink of the water of drinking of the Lord, and immediately thy sin will appear.


Then was assembled a multitude of people which could not be numbered, and Mary was brought to the temple.  And the priests, and her relatives, and her parents wept, and said to Mary:  Confess to the priests thy sin, thou that wast like a dove in the temple of God, and didst receive food from the hands of an angel.  And again Joseph was summoned to the altar, and the water of drinking of the Lord was given him to drink.  And when any one that had lied drank this water, and walked seven times round the altar, God used to show some sign in his face.  When, therefore, Joseph had drunk in safety, and had walked round the altar seven times, no sign of sin appeared in him.  Then all the priests, and the officers, and the people justified him, saying:  Blessed art thou, seeing that no charge has been found good against thee. 


And they summoned Mary, and said:  And what excuse canst thou have? or what greater sign can appear in thee than the conception of thy womb, which betrays thee?  This only we require of thee, that since Joseph is pure regarding thee, thou confess who it is that has beguiled thee.  For it is better that thy confession should betray thee, than that the wrath of God should set a mark on thy face, and expose thee in the midst of the people.  Then Mary said, steadfastly and without trembling:  O Lord God, King over all, who knowest all secrets, if there be any pollution in me, or any sin, or any evil desires, or unchastity, expose me in the sight of all the people, and make me an example of punishment to all.  Thus saying, she went up to the altar of the Lord boldly, and drank the water of drinking, and walked round the altar seven times, and no spot was found in her.


And when all the people were in the utmost astonishment, seeing that she was with child, and that no sign had appeared in her face, they began to be disturbed among themselves by conflicting statements:  some said that she was holy and unspotted, others that she was wicked and defiled.  Then Mary, seeing that she was still suspected by the people, and that on that account she did not seem to them to be wholly cleared, said in the hearing of all, with a loud voice, As the Lord Adonai liveth, the Lord of Hosts before whom I stand, I have not known man; but I am known by Him to whom from my earliest years I have devoted myself.  And this vow I made to my God from my infancy, that I should remain unspotted in Him who created me, and I trust that I shall so live to Him alone, and serve Him alone; and in Him, as long as I shall live, will I remain unpolluted. 


Then they all began to kiss her feet and to embrace her knees, asking her to pardon them for their wicked suspicions.  And she was led down to her house with exultation and joy by the people, and the priests, and all the virgins.  And they cried out, and said:  Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever, because He hath manifested thy holiness to all His people Israel.


All The World Is…Enrolled


And it came to pass some little time after, that an enrollment was made according to the edict of Cæsar Augustus, that all the world was to be enrolled, each man in his native place.  This enrollment was made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria.  It was necessary, therefore, that Joseph should enroll with the blessed Mary in Bethlehem, because to it they belonged, being of the tribe of Judah, and of the house and family of David. 



Joseph and Mary journey to Bethlehem.

When, therefore, Joseph and the blessed Mary were going along the road which leads to Bethlehem, Mary said to Joseph:  I see two peoples before me, the one weeping, and the other rejoicing.  And Joseph answered:  Sit still on thy beast, and do not speak superfluous words.  Then there appeared before them a beautiful boy, clothed in white raiment, who said to Joseph:  Why didst thou say that the words which Mary spoke about the two peoples were superfluous?  For she saw the people of the Jews weeping, because they have departed from their God; and the people of the Gentiles rejoicing, because they have now been added and made near to the Lord, according to that which He promised to our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob:  for the time is at hand when in the seed of Abraham all nations shall be blessed.


And when he had thus said, the angel ordered the beast to stand, for the time when she should bring forth was at hand; and he commanded the blessed Mary to come down off the animal, and go into a recess under a cavern, in which there never was light, but always darkness, because the light of day could not reach it. 


Jesus Is Born


And when the blessed Mary had gone into it, it began to shine with as much brightness as if it were the sixth hour of the day.  The light from God so shone in the cave, that neither by day nor night was light wanting as long as the blessed Mary was there.  And there she brought forth a son, and the angels surrounded Him when He was being born.  And as soon as He was born, He stood upon His feet, and the angels adored Him, saying:  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good pleasure.  Now, when the birth of the Lord was at hand, Joseph had gone away to seek midwives.  And when he had found them, he returned to the cave, and found with Mary the infant which she had brought forth. 


And Joseph said to the blessed Mary:  I have brought thee two midwives—Zelomi and Salome; and they are standing outside before the entrance to the cave, not daring to come in hither, because of the exceeding brightness.  And when the blessed Mary heard this, she smiled; and Joseph said to her:  Do not smile; but prudently allow them to visit thee, in case thou shouldst require them for thy cure.  Then she ordered them to enter.  And when Zelomi had come in, Salome having stayed without, Zelomi said to Mary:  Allow me to touch thee.  And when she had permitted her to make an examination, the midwife cried out with a loud voice, and said:  Lord, Lord Almighty, mercy on us!  It has never been heard or thought of, that any one should have her breasts full of milk, and that the birth of a son should show his mother to be a virgin.  But there has been no spilling of blood in his birth, no pain in bringing him forth.  A virgin has conceived, a virgin has brought forth, and a virgin she remains. 


And hearing these words, Salome said:  Allow me to handle thee, and prove whether Zelomi have spoken the truth.  And the blessed Mary allowed her to handle her.  And when she had withdrawn her hand from handling her, it dried up, and through excess of pain she began to weep bitterly, and to be in great distress, crying out, and saying:  O Lord God, Thou knowest that I have always feared Thee, and that without recompense I have cared for all the poor; I have taken nothing from the widow and the orphan, and the needy have I not sent empty away.  And, behold, I am made wretched because of mine unbelief, since without a cause I wished to try Thy virgin.


And while she was thus speaking, there stood by her a young man in shining garments, saying:  Go to the child, and adore Him, and touch Him with thy hand, and He will heal thee, because He is the Saviour of the world, and of all that hope in Him.  And she went to the child with haste, and adored Him, and touched the fringe of the cloths in which He was wrapped, and instantly her hand was cured.  And going forth, she began to cry aloud, and to tell the wonderful things which she had seen, and which she had suffered, and how she had been cured; so that many through her statements believed.



Angels sing at the Savior’s birth.

And some shepherds also affirmed that they had seen angels singing a hymn at midnight, praising and blessing the God of heaven, and saying:  There has been born the Saviour of all, who is Christ the Lord, in whom salvation shall be brought back to Israel.


Moreover, a great star, larger than any that had been seen since the beginning of the world, shone over the cave from the evening till the morning.  And the prophets who were in Jerusalem said that this star pointed out the birth of Christ, who should restore the promise not only to Israel, but to all nations.


And on the third day after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the most blessed Mary went forth out of the cave, and entering a stable, placed the child in the stall, and the ox and the ass adored Him.  Then was fulfilled that which was said by Isaiah the prophet, saying:  The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib.  The very animals, therefore, the ox and the ass, having Him in their midst, incessantly adored Him.  Then was fulfilled that which was said by Abacuc the prophet, saying: Between two animals thou art made manifest.  In the same place Joseph remained with Mary three days.


The Protevangelium of James


8. And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying:  Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord.  What then shall we do with her, lest perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord?  And they said to the high priest:  Thou standest by the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray concerning her; and whatever the Lord shall manifest unto thee, that also will we do.  And the high priest went in, taking the robe with the twelve bells into the holy of holies; and he prayed concerning her.  And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying unto him:  Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let them bring each his rod; and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be.  And the heralds went out through all the circuit of Judæa, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all ran.


9.  And Joseph, throwing away his axe, went out to meet them; and when they had assembled, they went away to the high priest, taking with them their rods.  And he, taking the rods of all of them, entered into the temple, and prayed; and having ended his prayer, he took the rods and came out, and gave them to them:  but there was no sign in them, and Joseph took his rod last; and, behold, a dove came out of the rod, and flew upon Joseph’s head.  And the priest said to Joseph, Thou hast been chosen by lot to take into thy keeping the virgin of the Lord. 


But Joseph refused, saying:  I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl.  I am afraid lest I become a laughing-stock to the sons of Israel.  And the priest said to Joseph:  Fear the Lord thy God, and remember what the Lord did to Dathan, and Abiram, and Korah; how the earth opened, and they were swallowed up on account of their contradiction.  And now fear, O Joseph, lest the same things happen in thy house.  And Joseph was afraid, and took her into his keeping.  And Joseph said to Mary:  Behold, I have received thee from the temple of the Lord; and now I leave thee in my house, and go away to build my buildings, and I shall come to thee.  The Lord will protect thee.


10.  And there was a council of the priests, saying:  Let us make a veil for the temple of the Lord.  And the priest said:  Call to me the undefiled virgins of the family of David.  And the officers went away, and sought, and found seven virgins.  And the priest remembered the child Mary, that she was of the family of David, and undefiled before God.  And the officers went away and brought her.  And they brought them into the temple of the Lord.  And the priest said:  Choose for me by lot who shall spin the gold, and the white, and the fine linen, and the silk, and the blue, and the scarlet, and the true purple.  And the true purple and the scarlet fell to the lot of Mary, and she took them, and went away to her house.  And at that time Zacharias was dumb, and Samuel was in his place until the time that Zacharias spake.  And Mary took the scarlet, and span it.


Blessed Art Thou Among Women


11.  And she took the pitcher, and went out to fill it with water.  And, behold, a voice saying:  Hail, thou who hast received grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women!  And she looked round, on the right hand and on the left, to see whence this voice came.  And she went away, trembling, to her house, and put down the pitcher; and taking the purple, she sat down on her seat, and drew it out.  And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood before her, saying:  Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found grace before the Lord of all, and thou shalt conceive, according to His word. 



Mary as Gabriel appears to her.

And she hearing, reasoned with herself, saying:  Shall I conceive by the Lord, the living God? and shall I bring forth as every woman brings forth?  And the angel of the Lord said:  Not so, Mary; for the power of the Lord shall overshadow thee:  wherefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of the Most High.  And thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.  And Mary said:  Behold, the servant of the Lord before His face:  let it be unto me according to thy word.


Visiting Elizabeth


12.  And she made the purple and the scarlet, and took them to the priest.  And the priest blessed her, and said:  Mary, the Lord God hath magnified thy name, and thou shalt be blessed in all the generations of the earth.  And Mary, with great joy, went away to Elizabeth her kinswoman, and knocked at the door.  And when Elizabeth heard her, she threw away the scarlet, and ran to the door, and opened it; and seeing Mary, she blessed her, and said:  Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? for, behold, that which is in me leaped and blessed thee.


But Mary had forgotten the mysteries of which the archangel Gabriel had spoken, and gazed up into heaven, and said:  Who am I, O Lord, that all the generations of the earth should bless me? And she remained three months with Elizabeth; and day by day she grew bigger.  And Mary being afraid, went away to her own house, and hid herself from the sons of Israel.  And she was sixteen years old when these mysteries happened.


Joseph’s Discovery


13.  And she was in her sixth month; and, behold, Joseph came back from his building, and, entering into his house, he discovered that she was big with child.  And he smote his face, and threw himself on the ground upon the sackcloth, and wept bitterly, saying:  With what face shall I look upon the Lord my God? and what prayer shall I make about this maiden? because I received her a virgin out of the temple of the Lord, and I have not watched over her.  Who is it that has hunted me down?  Who has done this evil thing in my house, and defiled the virgin?  Has not the history of Adam been repeated in me?  For just as Adam was in the hour of his singing praise, and the serpent came, and found Eve alone, and completely deceived her, so it has happened to me also. 


And Joseph stood up from the sackcloth, and called Mary, and said to her:  O thou who hast been cared for by God, why hast thou done this and forgotten the Lord thy God?  Why hast thou brought low thy soul, thou that wast brought up in the holy of holies, and that didst receive food from the hand of an angel?  And she wept bitterly, saying:  I am innocent, and have known no man.  And Joseph said to her:  Whence then is that which is in thy womb?  And she said:  As the Lord my God liveth, I do not know whence it is to me.


14.  And Joseph was greatly afraid, and retired from her, and considered what he should do in regard to her.  And Joseph said:  If I conceal her sin, I find myself fighting against the law of the Lord; and if I expose her to the sons of Israel, I am afraid lest that which is in her be from an angel, and I shall be found giving up innocent blood to the doom of death.  What then shall I do with her?  I will put her away from me secretly.  And night came upon him; and, behold, an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream, saying:  Be not afraid for this maiden, for that which is in her is of the Holy Spirit; and she will bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.  And Joseph arose from sleep, and glorified the God of Israel, who had given him this grace; and he kept her.


The Trials


15.  And Annas the scribe came to him, and said:  Why hast thou not appeared in our assembly?  And Joseph said to him:  Because I was weary from my journey, and rested the first day.  And he turned, and saw that Mary was with child.  And he ran away to the priest,and said to him:  Joseph, whom thou didst vouch for, has committed a grievous crime.  And the priest said:  How so?  And he said:  He has defiled the virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord, and has married her by stealth, and has not revealed it to the sons of Israel.  And the priest answering, said:  Has Joseph done this?  Then said Annas the scribe:  Send officers, and thou wilt find the virgin with child. 


And the officers went away, and found it as he had said; and they brought her along with Joseph to the tribunal.  And the priest said:  Mary, why hast thou done this? and why hast thou brought thy soul low, and forgotten the Lord thy God?  Thou that wast reared in the holy of holies, and that didst receive food from the hand of an angel, and didst hear the hymns, and didst dance before Him, why hast thou done this?  And she wept bitterly, saying:  As the Lord my God liveth, I am pure before Him, and know not a man.  And the priest said to Joseph:  Why hast thou done this?  And Joseph said:  As the Lord liveth, I am pure concerning her.  Then said the priest:  Bear not false witness, but speak the truth.  Thou hast married her by stealth, and hast not revealed it to the sons of Israel, and hast not bowed thy head under the strong hand, that thy seed might be blessed.  And Joseph was silent.



Joseph and Mary

16.  And the priest said:  Give up the virgin whom thou didst receive out of the temple of the Lord.  And Joseph burst into tears.  And the priest said:  I will give you to drink of the water of the ordeal of the Lord, and He shall make manifest your sins in your eyes.  And the priest took the water, and gave Joseph to drink and sent him away to the hill-country; and he returned unhurt.  And he gave to Mary also to drink, and sent her away to the hill-country; and she returned unhurt.  And all the people wondered that sin did not appear in them.  And the priest said:  If the Lord God has not made manifest your sins, neither do I judge you.  And he sent them away.  And Joseph took Mary, and went away to his own house, rejoicing and glorifying the God of Israel.


All The World Is…Enrolled


17. And there was an order from the Emperor Augustus, that all in Bethlehem of Judæa should be enrolled.  And Joseph said:  I shall enroll my sons, but what shall I do with this maiden?  How shall I enroll her?  As my wife?  I am ashamed.  As my daughter then?  But all the sons of Israel know that she is not my daughter.  The day of the Lord shall itself bring it to pass as the Lord will.  And he saddled the ass, and set her upon it; and his son led it, and Joseph followed.  And when they had come within three miles, Joseph turned and saw her sorrowful; and he said to himself:  Likely that which is in her distresses her.  And again Joseph turned and saw her laughing. 


And he said to her:  Mary, how is it that I see in thy face at one time laughter, at another sorrow?  And Mary said to Joseph:  Because I see two peoples with my eyes; the one weeping and lamenting, and the other rejoicing and exulting.  And they came into the middle of the road, and Mary said to him:  Take me down from off the ass, for that which is in me presses to come forth. And he took her down from off the ass, and said to her:  Whither shall I lead thee, and cover thy disgrace? for the place is desert.


18.  And he found a cave there, and led her into it; and leaving his two sons beside her, he went out to seek a midwife in the district of Bethlehem. And I Joseph was walking, and was not walking; and I looked up into the sky, and saw the sky astonished; and I looked up to the pole of the heavens, and saw it standing, and the birds of the air keeping still.  And I looked down upon the earth, and saw a trough lying, and work-people reclining: and their hands were in the trough.  And those that were eating did not eat, and those that were rising did not carry it up, and those that were conveying anything to their mouths did not convey it; but the faces of all were looking upwards.  And I saw the sheep walking, and the sheep stood still; and the shepherd raised his hand to strike them, and his hand remained up.  And I looked upon the current of the river, and I saw the mouths of the kids resting on the water and not drinking, and all things in a moment were driven from their course.


19.  And I saw a woman coming down from the hill-country, and she said to me:  O man, whither art thou going?  And I said:  I am seeking an Hebrew midwife.  And she answered and said unto me:  Art thou of Israel?  And I said to her:  Yes.  And she said:  And who is it that is bringing forth in the cave?  And I said:  A woman betrothed to me.  And she said to me:  Is she not thy wife?  And I said to her:  It is Mary that was reared in the temple of the Lord, and I obtained her by lot as my wife.  And yet she is not my wife, but has conceived of the Holy Spirit. And the midwife said to him:  Is this true?  And Joseph said to her:  Come and see. 


Jesus Is Born


And the midwife went away with him.  And they stood in the place of the cave, and behold a luminous cloud overshadowed the cave.  And the midwife said:  My soul has been magnified this day, because mine eyes have seen strange things—because salvation has been brought forth to Israel.  And immediately the cloud disappeared out of the cave, and a great light shone in the cave, so that the eyes could not bear it.  And in a little that light gradually decreased, until the infant appeared, and went and took the breast from His mother Mary. 


And the midwife cried out, and said:  This is a great day to me, because I have seen this strange sight.  And the midwife went forth out of the cave, and Salome met her.  And she said to her:  Salome, Salome, I have a strange sight to relate to thee:  a virgin has brought forth—a thing which her nature admits not of.  Then said Salome:  As the Lord my God liveth, unless I thrust in my finger, and search the parts, I will not believe that a virgin has brought forth.


20.  And the midwife went in, and said to Mary:  Show thyself; for no small controversy has arisen about thee.  And Salome put in her finger, and cried out, and said:  Woe is me for mine iniquity and mine unbelief, because I have tempted the living God; and, behold, my hand is dropping off as if burned with fire.  And she bent her knees before the Lord, saying:  O God of my fathers, remember that I am the seed of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; do not make a show of me to the sons of Israel, but restore me to the poor; for Thou knowest, O Lord, that in Thy name I have performed my services, and that I have received my reward at Thy hand. 


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And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by her, saying to her:  Salome, Salome, the Lord hath heard thee.  Put thy hand to the infant, and carry it, and thou wilt have safety and joy.  And Salome went and carried it, saying:  I will worship Him, because a great King has been born to Israel.  And, behold, Salome was immediately cured, and she went forth out of the cave justified.  And behold a voice saying:  Salome, Salome, tell not the strange things thou hast seen, until the child has come into Jerusalem.

About Delisa Hargrove
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.

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