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.
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 drew & coloured this scene (without the figures & animals) & what struck me as I completed it was the fact that the impression of the body of the baby Jesus is still visible in the manger, amongst the straw on the floor of the stable. Maybe a few hours previously, the body of our Lord Jesus was occupying this place. But now, some time later, the stable/cave is empty… Mary, Joseph & Jesus have moved on. All that is left is the impression of Jesus’ little body in the straw. If someone came & looked at this scene now, it would look like any normal stable… nothing amazing at all. But here, a few hours previously, God had sent His son to be born into our world. At that time, this was not just a stable, it was the birth place of Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.’
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.