It was called the “tower of the flock”.
It’s Hebrew name, Migdal Edar, was a place highly esteemed in Jewish tradition because Jacob moved his flocks there after he buried his dear Rachel who died in childbirth. Rachel was buried in Bethlehem. Migdal Edar was on the edge of the town. Jerusalem sat only a few miles away.
Migdal Edar had been built generations earlier to overlook the valley to protect the city. Many ancient towers had been built throughout the land for this purpose, but in peaceful times the towers were used by shepherds to guard the sheep. The shepherds would bring the ewes close to delivering their lambs to the towers for greater protection.
This was a common practice, but Migdal Edar was no ordinary “tower of the flock” because the lambs in these fields outside of Bethlehem were not your normal, everyday sheep. “These special lambs came from a unique flock that was designated for sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem.” (bibletruth.org)
And the shepherds weren’t any old shepherds. They were special too, trained by priests to inspect the newly born lambs who were destined for sacrifice. The cave or stall where the tower stood and where they inspected the lambs would be impeccably clean. These lambs could have no imperfections nor be dirty. They were “wrapped in cloths” to protect them from injury.
” . . . and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” (Luke 2:7)
Have you ever wondered why Mary wrapped the baby Jesus “in cloths”?I always assumed the cloths were all she had, but now I know that the cloths were there. They were at the special tower where sacrificial lambs were born. And the Lamb of all lambs would be wrapped in these cloths used to protect the lambs born for sacrifice..
A few years ago, I wrote a post about the birth of the last sacrifice. I had no idea about Migdal Edar and the significance of the birthplace of our Savior. (A good friend just recently shared with me this intriguing and delicious nugget of the Christmas story–thanks, Maureen!)
I had written:
Has it ever occurred to anyone how nothing about Jesus’ life and purpose was easy? Even HIS birth took place in hardship by our human standards.
But then again, maybe God just wanted HIS creation to witness Hope being born. Each star, named by God, held its breath as the Son of God arrived. Could creation itself imagine how this story of redemption would run its course? How it would end in death way before the Savior’s time?
Can we fathom such sacrifice?
Now I know. God didn’t simply desire creation to witness His Son’s birth; there was significance to the place where the Lamb of God would take His first breath.
“As for you, O watchtower of the flock (Migdal Edar) , O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be given you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:8). This is the prophecy of the Savior’s birth that further connects the “watchtower of the flock” to that star-lit night.
And there were shepherds living in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
. . . and they knew just where to find HIM.
Do you have a favorite prophecy?
This post first appeared as “How the Shepherds Found Jesus, the Sacrificial Lamb.” 2015