Hello. My name is D'vorah bat Yitro. The story I am about to tell you may not seem worth your time, as I am a woman telling a story that happened to me. However, I hope you do listen, as this is the story of the first time that I saw, and understood, Eloheinu's great love for us.
I was 14, and recently betrothed to Yechezk'el. I was still living with my Abba, my sister Avigayil, and her son Aharon. My sister's husband had died from sickness, which was why Avigayil lived with us.
My Abba ran an inn in Beit-Lechem. The emperor had recently called for a census, and had everyone going to the place of their birth to be counted. As such, our usually quiet inn was full to bursting, and we had people in every corner. The whole place smelled of sweat, dirt, lentils, and garlic.
I was constantly running back and forth between the kitchen where Avigayil was cooking and where I was serving the people, or dodging the hands of those who obviously didn't want the food. I received complaints about the stew as I usually did, even though we were serving the best we had without slaughtering a sheep or goat.
My sister, Abba, and I were finally able to go to bed when it was 3 hours after sunset. I was about to get into bed when I heard a knock at the door. I was the most dressed, so I was the one sent to answer it.
When I opened the door, I saw a young couple. The woman looked about my age, and she seemed ready to give birth at any moment. She was sitting on a donkey, the lead to which the young man was holding. They both looked so tired, and I felt so sad at what I knew my answer would have to be to the question I knew they would ask.
Sure enough, the young man asked it. "Is there any room here?"
"I'm sorry, but we're full. You'll have to find another place." I started to close the door.
"Please! My wife may give birth soon. Isn't there any place here that you could put us?"
"I'm sorry, but there is no-"
"D'vorah? Who is it at the door?" my Abba said as he walked up to me.
Before I could answer, the young man spoke again.
"Sir, I'm sorry to disturb you at this late hour, but is there anywhere that you can put us?"
I could tell by the look on Abba's face that he was about to turn them away, when the young woman cried out and clutched at her husbands arm.
The young man looked at us with terror and pain in his face. "Please! Anywhere!"
Abba's mind worked quickly. "I have a stable in the hillside. It isn't much, but it will be warm and dry. Follow me." Turning to me, he spoke again. "Get whatever is needed for a birth and bring it to the stable. Go!"
I scampered into the back and got the supplies, as well as swaddling clothes. Avigayil was already asleep, but I woke her so that she could help me with the birthing.
We went out the back way and ran to the stable. I told the young man and Abba to leave, because they would have had no idea what to do, and would only have been in the way, as well as it being against our laws for a man to be present during a birthing.
I will not tell the details of the birth, so as not to embarrass any of my listeners. I will say that the birth went rather well considering we were surrounded by animals, Avigayil and I were kneeling on straw, and the mother was sitting on an upside-down bucket. I was the one who caught the child.
When I did, I looked at it in awe. I felt as though I was holding and looking at something that was more precious than the betrothal gift I had received from Yechezk'el. Something worth more than the empire. Something with more value than the world. That baby boy was worth more to me then than anything else before or since, even my own children and grand-children.
I washed the boy and wrapped it in swaddling clothes. Avigayil told the father that he had a son. I gave the child to the mother as the father came in. As the father stood by the mother, Avigayil told me that she and Abba were going back inside, and that she wanted me to clean up and stay there in case anything happened. I nodded readily in agreement.
While I moved the dirty straw out of the stable and threw out the dirty water, the mother placed the child into a manger. I built up a bed for myself in a corner, but I didn't sleep. I just continued to stare at the manger with that precious baby in it.
The mother saw me staring at the baby and smiled. She motioned that I could come closer. I usually wouldn't have, except that I felt as though I had to be close to the baby boy. The mother spoke to me.
"What is your name? I am Miryam, and this is my husband, Yosef."
"I am D'vorah bat Yitro. What are you going to name him?"
Yosef answered my question. "We will name him Yeshua."
"That's a nice name. It seems to fit him."
We all fell silent for many minutes. Words didn't seem to be needed.
Then we heard voices. The voices seemed to be looking for someone. I went to the entrance of the stable to see who it was. An old shepherd appeared from the darkness. As soon as he saw Yeshua, his face lit up like he had found some great treasure. He called to someone in the street. "Come quickly! I found him! Hurry!"
I felt great curiosity as I moved into a corner of the stable, watching many shepherds come in. Why were they here? Was the little family in danger? Should I go get Abba? Any fears I had were extinguished when I heard the shepherds' story.
The shepherds all looked at Yeshua and then knelt down, never taking their eyes off him. There were about twelve of them, of all different ages. Yosef spoke to them with a curious note in his voice. "Why is it you are here?"
The old shepherd answered him. "We were all in the fields watching our sheep, and talking about how we wished the Messiah would come. Then, a glorious being appeared. I am certain it was an angel. It spoke to us in a voice that was terrible, and filled with power, but I could have listened to it forever. The angel said 'Don't be afraid, because I am here announcing to you Good News that will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in the town of David, there was born for you a Deliverer who is the Messiah, the Lord. Here is how you will know: you will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.' "
The shepherd continued with his story, his face looking younger with every word that he spoke. "Then, a vast army of angels appeared, lighting the sky and singing. Their voices were the most amazing thing that I have ever heard, or ever will hear. They sang: 'In the highest heaven, glory to God! And on earth, peace among people of good will!' Then they faded from view, while their voices seemed to linger in the air.
"As when the singing faded, we all looked at each other. Then, without a word spoken, we started running towards town. None of us thought about disbelieving the angels, and none of us were worried about the sheep.
"We have been looking all over town for this child."
The old shepherd, who no longer looked so old, fell silent. I looked at Miryam, trying to see how she was taking this news. I thought that I would see shock on her face, but she seemed to simply be in a peaceful sort of wonder. Her face was shining. Yosef seemed to be in awe about what he had heard about his child. I recalled the meaning of the baby's name: God with us. If what the shepherd had said was true, then this truly was God with us, and this was indeed the Messiah.
I stayed awake long after the shepherds had left and the small family had fallen asleep. I thought over everything that had happened that night, and thought about all my Abba had taught me about the coming Messiah. The prophet Mikhah had said that a Ruler and Shepherd would come from Beit-Lechem. Yesha'yahu had told of a virgin bearing a son, and that he would be called Immanu El. I was a girl, so had not been taught how to read. As such, I had not been able to study the Torah for myself. But as well as I could tell, the child that had been born tonight was truly the Messiah. This was indeed God in human form.
I wondered why Adonai would have sent His son to become a human. Human wasn't exactly the best thing to be. Human life was filled with pain. Why would God become human?
Later that night, when Miryam got up to feed Yeshua, I asked her that question. She thought about it, then said, "The Messiah is to come to save us all. He is to be the atonement for our sins. Because the original punishment for sin was, and is, death, I suppose the only way for us to be truly cleansed of our sin is for the Messiah to die for us. I'm not really certain. I have not been able to study the Torah myself."
"Do you believe that your son is the Messiah?" I asked her.
"How can you be certain?"
She gave a wry smile. "I am certain because of what the shepherds said, and also because I have never been with a man. I am still a virgin."
My eyes widened in surprise and disbelief at that statement. Even I knew that a man was required to have a child. Miryam saw my shock and answered my unspoken question.
"Nine months ago, I was fetching water. I had just been betrothed to Yosef. During the walk, an angel appeared to me. He told me that I had been chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. I didn't think to disbelieve him. Any doubts I may have had were quelled when I went to my cousin Elisheva's house. She was pregnant, which is a miracle in itself, as she is old and was thought to be barren. Elisheva also told me that God had chosen me to be the mother of the Savior. I was then filled with the Ruach HaKodesh. I have never doubted since."
"Why didn't Yosef cast you aside if you were pregnant with a child that wasn't his?"
"He was going to, but then he had a dream in which an angel appeared to him and told him that I truly was the one who had been chosen by God to carry his son. Yosef was told to name our son Yeshua, and that he should still take me as his wife."
I thought about this conversation later. This time, I wondered why I hadn't been the one chosen. Wasn't I good enough? Why should Miryam be the one chosen and not me?
I answered my own question a moment later. Yechezk'el would have tossed me out the second any scandal was even hinted at, and then my child wouldn't have had a father. Even if Yechezk'el wouldn't put me aside, his home town was Yerushalayim, and neither of us was from the tribe of Y'hudah. I wouldn't have been in Beit-Lechem when I gave birth.
I decided that I was fortunate enough to have been here tonight. I had been the midwife to the mother of the Messiah! I now knew that the prophecies were all true, and that Adonai had truly come to save us all. He had left the grandness of the heavens to live the life of a human, and to be the atonement for our sins. He had come down to earth because He loved us all. Because He loved me! I could hardly take it in.
I lived the rest of my life hoping for any form of news of His life. Whenever I was in Yerushalayim during Passover, I always hoped that Miryam and I would run into each other. We did a few times. Whenever Yeshua was near Beit-Lechem preaching, I took my family to listen, or went alone.
I was not there the day He died, and am glad I wasn't, in a way. I don't think I could have stood watching Him die. It is enough that I know that He saved me. It is enough to know that He loved me so much that he came to earth, lived as a human, and died for me. It is enough to have seen Him. It is enough.