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Old 11-15-2004, 04:51 PM
HeyHomie HeyHomie is offline
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Location: Viburnum, MO
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Mary & Joseph's Journey to Bethlehem: How Long Time-Wise?

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
Luke 2:4 (NIV)

According to my handy-dandy Bible atlas, it looks like it's about 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. How long would that have taken, do you suppose?

  • They traveled in a caravan for safety.
  • They went slowly, due to Mary's advanced pregnancy.
  • They went on camel and/or on foot.
  • The roads were crowded due to lots of people heading into and out of Bethlehem (see Luke 2:7).
  • They were on the one good north-south road in Roman Palestine, which I understand was scarcely more than a couple of feet wide, and was filled with precipitous drops, large rocks, a few scorpions here & there, etc.

So I'm guessing maybe four days?

Anyone familiar with Bible history wanna weigh in?
Old 11-15-2004, 06:06 PM
jgroub jgroub is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New York
Posts: 247
This is all just my opinion, and not based on the Bible at all.

Four days is way too short. I would say at least a couple of weeks, if not more. The amount of travelling you could do in a day was limited to daylight hours, say about 13 hours a day around the time that they would have been travelling (early April). Even during that time, they had to stop a couple times a day for meals, bathroom breaks (especially when you're pregnant) look around for lodging (or a place to pitch tents) as they went, etc. Not only were the 13 hours not straight through, but you also have to factor in time for packing up in the morning and unpacking at night.

My best guess is that they would only make about 10 miles a day, maybe a little more. Anyone care to be a little firmer in this estimate? My idea of a caravan is that it moves VERY slowly.

Plus, given the fact that roads were not straight, I assume that the 70 miles you speak of was probably as the crow flies. Since they were on a donkey (and not a flying donkey, as in Shrek) the 70 miles by air has to translate well over 100, if not closer to 150 or more. Thus, my estimate for a couple of weeks.

Just a reasoned guess, though.
Old 11-15-2004, 08:41 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
Originally Posted by HeyHomie
Luke 2:4 (NIV)
[*]They went on camel and/or on foot.
Weren't you ever in a Christmas pageant? They went on a donkey (or, for the sillier amongst the children, an ass.)

Is the donkey thing common myth or reasonably supported? I'd look it up but most of my books are in storage and my connection is very slow for some reason.


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