We are all familiar of the story of the appearance of Angels to lowly shepherds watching over their sheep at night when Christ was born. But were these normal shepherds? Did the Angels tell them where to exactly look in Bethlehem? Or were they privy to some information we have not understood?
Prophecies of the Birth place of Messiah and Migdal Eder
Comparing the following verses, we see that the burial-place of Rachel is called the Tower of the Flock (Migdal Eder in Hebrew). This may have been called as such in remembrance of Rachel who was a shepherdess(Gen 29:9). Micah 4:8 and Gen 35:21 reference the same place – the Tower of Eder also called the Tower of the Flock. Micah is a clear reference that Messiah would be born in this place.
Mic 4:8 And thou, O tower(Migdal) of the flock(Eder), the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
Mic 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Gen 35:19-21 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day. And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.
In fact the Pillar of Rachel’s grave mentioned above may have been the Tower of Edar. So why is this Tower of the Flock of any interest to us? As Micah has prophesied, the Kingdom and Dominion comes to the Tower of the Flock. 6 verses down, Micah again references the same Shepherd who will arise from Bethlehem and feed His flock, to whom all of Israel will return. These prophecies were well known at the time of Yeshua‘s birth, as we see below.
Mic 5:2-4 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.
Mat 2:4-6 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Joh 7:42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?
It is very likely, considering they lived in the land and knew the various landmarks, that the Tower of Edar was also well known for its significant prophecy mentioned in Micah.
Priestly Shepherds tending the sheep in the Lambing Season
We have all heard that the Shepherds in Luke’s account of the birth of Messiah, were outcasts and poor people taking care of their sheep at night. But we must ask the question of why shepherds would be out at night risking losing their livestock to predators and the like. The reason would be lambing season.
Gustaf Dalman who did extensive field work in the land of Israel before the 1st World War, mentions in his work “Arbeit und Sitte in Palastina (Work and Customs in Palestine) V1, 183” that he observed 3 lambing seasons; early lambs born in November-January, Spring Lambs born in February-March and Summer lambs born in June.
The Spring Lambing Season is of special significance to us, as that is the time of the Passover Sacrifice which required a 1-year old Lamb. For Messiah to be born in this season as the Lamb of God, would be an amazing foreshadowing of His Ministry of becoming the Passover Lamb that brings redemption to His people.
Another interesting fact is that there were Shepherds who were from the priestly families according to the Mishnah Bekhorot 5:4. Could the Shepherds of Luke 2:8 be Priests?Migdal Eder is also mentioned by name again in the Mishnah regarding lambs who were found in the vicinity being accepted as Passover offerings, making it very likely that this area was a common grazing place for Priestly-Shepherds.
Beasts which were found in Jerusalem as far as Migdal Eder and within the same distance in any direction: Males are [considered as] burnt-offerings; Females are [considered as] peace-offerings. Rabbi Judah says: that which is fit for a pesach offering, is a pesach-offerings within thirty days before the pilgrimage [of Pesach]. Mishnah, Shekalim 7:4
If the Shepherds of Luke 2:8 were in fact Priests, this may also explain how the shepherds knew where to go, as the Angels never mentioned a particular place. It is unlikely that normal shepherds would know about the exact prophecies mentioned in Micah, while Priestly Shepherds would have a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.
Luk 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
Was the Tower of the Flock the place of Yeshua’s Birth?
Even though many of us have grown up seeing Yeshua being laid in a rack for fodder called a manger, the text says something else. Luke mentions that he was laid in a “Phatne” in Greek, better translated as stall, as per examples given below.
Hab 3:17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls(phatne):
2Ch 32:28 Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls(phatne) for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks.
Luk 13:15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall(phatne), and lead him away to watering?
Compare the above to the instances of Phatne in the Birth of Messiah:
Luk 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger(phatne); because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luk 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger(phatne).
Luk 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger(phatne).
It is clear that the imagery of the trough is not a Biblical one, and it is more likely that Messiah was born in a stall that was made for Lambs. Could this have been connected to the Migdal Eder? Did the Tower of the Flock also consist of a “Phatne” (stall) which could hold newborn lambs for the shepherds who were out at night in lambing season? This could explain how they found Mary, Joseph and Yeshua so easily.
Migdal Eder which is connected to Prophet Micah’s prophecy, may very well be the exact place of Yeshua’s Birth. What better place and time for the Lamb of God to be born, other than in the Spring Lambing Season close to Passover at the “Tower of the Flock” and be visited first by Shepherds who were priests. With God’s track record of foreshadowings and prophetic imagery, it is not far fetched to imagine the Birth of Messiah happening in this fashion.
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I strongly believe in this possibility regarding the place and season of the year in which the advent of the Messiah took place. It seems fully in harmony with the spring festivals which he fulfilled with his birth, death and resurrection. Two other biblical passages that call my attention and reinforce these possibilities are: The Eternal determined to Moses the setting up of the Tent of Meeting on the first day of the first month of the year and from then on his glory lived with his people (Ex: 40 and Ex 25:22). Yeshua is the Word that tabernacculated among us. The second is in Luke 2:41. Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. 42 When he reached the age of twelve, the family went to the party, as usual. In other words, when they turned twelve just before the Passover festival, they went to Jerusalem. Great study.
Additionally, I would like to post a link to the thought of Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn on this topic:
I suppose you know the other teaching that Yeshua was born probably Sep/Oct, 6 months after the birth of John the Baptist. How the latter’s birthdate was derived was based on his father’s temple duty roster. What is your view regarding this?
I have addressed this in another study. Please see below
Be a blessing to everyone around you
(Left a similar comment in the post you linked above.)
Hi there brother!
So then, your view has changed? Toward a Pesach, rather than Sukkot birth time?
I’ve leaned more this way (Pesach birth time) myself since we put away the pagan feasts for Yah’s Biblical ones and I learned about the Migdal Eder. The other curious thing that the SIGN to them that Messiah the Master has been born in the city of David was a babe “wrapped in swaddling clothes … in a stall.” It hadn’t occurred to me before that this was an odd sign– odd to me, but as I understand it, it would not have been odd to them, who are said to have taken protective measures such as these to keep the choice, sacrificial lambs blemish-free and unharmed. Have you heard this?
Thankful to have you as a brother and for the ways you share your growth, meditations, and diligent study through this blog.
Thanks Ramesh, this is was very interesting and helpful!
I wrote a children’s book on Migdal Eder. It is important that the children hear the truth of Messiah’s birth, and not just fairy tales. O Little Tower of Bethlehem, has recommendations from Dr. Richard Booker, author of over 40 books on the Jewish roots of Christianity, and Janice Sturkie, both from the Institute for Hebraic Christian Studies.
“So, you see,” Micah resumes, “the Passover lambs are birthed in this ‘tower of the flock’ and God’s perfect Passover Lamb will be born there, too! The LORD is incredible in His forethought!” (See Micah 4:8)
Summary: Isaiah and Micah relate the prophecies of the Messiah’s birth to children: the Lamb of God will be born in the Tower of the Flock where the shepherds birth Passover Lambs! This book is based on Scripture and archaeology but is not your westernized version of the Messiah’s birth.
Please see the site here: https://grannyvee.com/2020/03/26/o-little-tower-video/
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Thank you for your birth of Christ true news
As a shepherdess, I will add that it was the rule that the mother would be with the newborn lamb, if they were put in a stall. Leviticus 22:27 When an ox or sheep or goat is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother, and from the eighth day and on it shall be accepted as an offering made by fire to YH.
We use this method at our little place; laboring livestock are moved to designated birthing stalls, where mother and offspring remain together with special care for a minimum of seven days. It would be astounding to one night find a human family with newborn in one of our stalls! I can’t imagine how we would fret over them to make sure they were well cared for. It is difficult to imagine!
It is so amazing and humbling to see the intricate details of our Creator and His plan. HalleluYah! Thank you for sharing your insights on Migdal Eder.