LUKE 2:5

Verse 5 “To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”

Espousal was a stronger relationship than our marriage engagement today. It was a legal relationship but it was not a marriage. Like marriage the relationship could be broken by divorce. It was a year-long relationship in which a couple could get to know each other better and make adequate preparation for a home and life together. The marriage was not supposed to be consummated during the espousal period. There were to be no sexual relations. It was during this time when Mary was espoused to Joseph that she was found to be with child. This was a great trial to Joseph’s faith, but he believed what God revealed to him, and his mind was put at ease. The news that Mary was with child was as difficult for Joseph as it was for Mary. He was called upon to believe that Mary had been faithful to him and had not been with another man as well as to believe the fantastic truth that the Child was from the Holy Spirit.

Mary was great with Child when she journeyed to Bethlehem. We are not told how long Joseph and Mary took to make the trip, nor are we told how long they were at Bethlehem before the delivery. We are not told if Mary was in the seventh, eighth, or ninth month when the trip began. We are not told if they stayed for a time with relatives or friends somewhere between Nazareth and Bethlehem. We are only told that they made the journey with Mary “being great with child” and that while they were in Bethlehem the Baby was born. We should be careful about reading into the Bible what is not there.

LUKE 2:3-4

Verses 3-4 “3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David.)”

The whole world was to be taxed. By “whole world” (v.1) is meant all of the countries and districts of the Roman Empire. Joseph’s ancestral town was Bethlehem, a small agricultural village about six miles from Jerusalem. The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was about eighty-five miles distance. We do not know what means of conveyance was employed to transport Mary to Bethlehem. Often it is assumed that Mary rode on a donkey, but that is being read into the Bible account since the Bible does not tell us that detail. She may have ridden in a cart pulled by a donkey, or in a wagon pulled by a horse. Or, as many have suspected, she may have ridden on a donkey. The important thing is that they did arrive at Bethlehem, because it was prophesied that the Christ would be born there (Micah 5:2). We see the providence of God in bringing Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem; for it is He who arranged the time of the birth, the taxing, and even the mode of transportation.