Luke 2:7 says:

7 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 implies that they first looked for an inn (maybe a guest room). I can understand the significance of the Christ child being born into humble circumstances, but why would an expectant couple seek an inn?

And really, would an inn have given them more privacy (which the account clearly shows is something Joseph wanted for Mary)? Joseph and Mary must have known the prophecy that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, so I doubt the birth was a surprise while they were there.

The only other instance of inn in the KJV New Testament is Luke 10:34, the parable of the good Samaritan:

34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

In this case, the host provided care to the person (in return for payment). If innkeepers sometimes provided care to their guests, was it common for women to give birth in inns?

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    I don't see how the answer is not obvious. They didn't want to be in a stinky, dingy manger. – 3961 Dec 8 '14 at 6:40
  • @fredsbend That answer only makes sense assuming that there were only two options: a stable or an inn. Weren't there any other options for childbirth? Even children were born in the village of Bethlehem on occasion, no? – Matt Dec 8 '14 at 6:45
  • You're talking about a time when people birthed at home. In fact, very few cities worldwide even had hospitals. Further, the idea and treatment of pregnancy and birthing as a medical condition is very modern and very western. – 3961 Dec 8 '14 at 6:50
  • This is the height of the Roman empire, too, and I'm not sure what life was like in that society at the time, so I thought I'd at least ask. Ultimately, if the answer really is this easy, then post it and collect the 25 rep points. Just thought there would be a little more material/background on the topic. – Matt Dec 8 '14 at 6:56
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    @fredsbend Some discussion on BH (But not all that could be said on the topic, I'm just aware there's some debate) – curiousdannii Dec 8 '14 at 10:09

Perhaps, it seems that you might think there were other options available to them. There simply were not.

In those times, and until very recently actually, women birthed their children at home (or where ever they were comfortable (ie. by the river, a relative's home, etc.)). Also, the idea and treatment of pregnancy and birthing as a medical condition is very modern and very western.

Women also didn't really have the choice to go to the hospital. Most cities worldwide did not even have them! And Bethlehem was a little backyard town.

So Mary and Joseph had only a few options really:

  1. Relative's or friend's home
  2. Inn
  3. Wilderness

The first two were apparently unavailable and the third seems less comfortable and safe than the manger.


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