Matthew 2:1a (NLT)
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod (Herod I “Herodes Magnus” – Herod the Great)…
TIME OF DAY:
I have set this scene in the early afternoon.
The main source of light for this scene is the sun, coming from the top right.
The oil lamp at the back of cave also provides a warm glow to the figures.
Mary (the mother of Jesus), Joseph, the infant Jesus.
A donkey & two sheep.
Matthew’s gospel doesn’t tell us that Mary & Joseph were living in Nazareth, Galilee at the time of the conception of Jesus. Matthew also omits the detail of their journey to Bethlehem. The map below shows you the probable routes Mary & Joseph may have taken on this long journey.
Map showing two possible routes taken by Mary and Joseph when they travelled from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem
Link to related Map
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I understand that Hebrew farmers/shepherds would sometimes use a naturally occurring cave, as a shelter for their animals. On occasion they might add a wooden stable in front of the cave, to provide additional weather-proofing. I decided to draw such a structure for this scene, in which Mary (the mother of Jesus the Christ) is being comforted by Joseph, whilst the infant Jesus rests in swaddling clothes (strips of cloth) in the straw manger. A manger was often simply a depression cut out of the rock floor.
According to the geological maps I have consulted, Bethlehem is situated on the Menuha Formation, which is an Upper Cretaceous (Santonian) chalk, marly chalk and conglomeratic chalk unit’
Looking at photographs of the area, the rocks on the soil surface are pale & look like Chalk &/or Marl, which is why I have used pale white, cream & yellow colours for the ground, rocks & building stones in my cartoon, to reflect this geology.