Biblical stuff: Snow, Three Kings, the epiphany, and the camels...

I need a hand with this.

For years, I’ve been teasing my mother about her whole “nativity scene” set up at Christmas. Ever since I was a child, she sets up the whle scene with snow all 'round - we are Canadian after all! Come the epiphany, she puts out the three Kings, along with their camels, in the snow. :dubious:

I’ve been teasing her mercilessly about her frozen camels ever since I was a child.

Now the question is: IF good ol’ GodJr (!) was born in the winter (though we doubt he was, but let’s just go with it for the sake of argument), could there have been snow around?

Help me out, here!

Metaphysically, sure. If one can have a virgin birth and other God created miracles, a little snow would be no problem. Poof. It snowed.

Phsycially? Unlikely. Bethlehem average well above the mid 30’s for their average low temperatures year round. Bethlehem Weather It’s possible of course, but not very likely. Maybe a Doper from around the West Bank can help us out.

Well, it tends to rain more than snow in the Galilee in winter. Here’s the weekly forecast for Ilut, near Nazareth:

Actually, the snow is the least of it- ask your Mom why she thinks there were THREE Kings. Or any “kings” at all. The Bible never says that!

The entire story is found in Matthew Chapter 2. We read that “magi” (we’re never told their names or how many there were) came to Bethlehem in search of the new king. “Magi” can mean several things, but it does NOT mean “kings.”

So… we sing at Christmas of “We Three Kings,” but they weren’t kings, and there may not have been three of them!

It can snow in parts of modern-day Israel, so I don’t know why it couldn’t have snowed then. It’s not much snow – half an inch is a lot, except on some of the mountain tops where there’s skiing – but I was in S’fat when it snowed.

I dunno about Bethlehem in particular.

My impression is that the area of Israel has weather much like that of the Upper South – temperatures ranging from subfreezing to single-digit-above Celsius, with frost, ice, and snow not uncommon in the higher elevations.

It may also be worth pointing out that the Wise Men never went to the stable – Matthew’s account mentions a “house” (2:11) and our image of them arriving at the caravanserai stable where Jesus was born is the result of an unScriptural portmanteauing of the Nativity Story in Luke and the Epiphany Story in Matthew. And the camels are a total speculation, like the sheep, ox, and ass of the Luke story – what one might find in a stable and/or brought by shepherds, and what Magi on a journey might use, are inferred rather than stated.

If they were really wise, they woulda come in a Renault.

We sing about three kings because of non-biblical sources that date to (400’s? IIRC) that say three.

Not the best source in the world, except that it is - the best source we’ve got. Three is a better guess than any other number (except, perhaps, zero).

Thanks for the input, guys.

I just need to come up with a… mostly sound argument… for my poor mother. I figure we’ll tease each other over this for years to come. Still, it’s an interesting question - I’ve never known anything about the weather patterns in that area of the world!

Thanks muchly!

Three gifts were delivered; that’s specified. But the number of “kings” (actually Magi) bringing them is not, except for being plural.

If there *had[/d] been snow on the ground then the shepherds could not have been grazing their flock.

A more appropriate question, I think, would be: When did people start using the nativity scene as a holiday symbol?

I suspect the answer for ‘snow use with the nativity scene’ will be found in the Victorian England area.

And there’s nothing in either of the nativity stories about a barn or stable either.

I read somewhere (maybe a linguist will help out) that the word that was translated as “manger” could be translated as trough or stable, depending on the context. As there are no animals mentioned, it should have been translated as trough. Can someone verify or debunk this?

Totally cite-less, but I’ve heard it attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, 13th century.