Who is she? Ever wonder? She shows up in December in some of the Christmas programs. You know – the same old, same old retelling of a story that we add so many details to. Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem to be counted because Caesar Augustus has called for a census in order to tax the people. (That is another whole story.)
When they get to Bethlehem, was the ‘no vacancy’ sign on the door or did the innkeeper direct them to the stable? Was there a stable? Was there an innkeeper? How could the innkeeper’s wife let that poor pregnant girl go sleep in a barn? Imagine that!
Well, we do not know these details. We know there was no room at the inn. So, imagine this innkeeper’s wife. Her name might have been Miriam. The house is full. Everybody is tracking in the dust and dirt. The cook is sick and the dishwasher broken.
Then Mr. Innkeeper calls to her, “Miriam, we have two more people here, soon to be three – and a donkey. What room do you want them in?”
“What room? There are no more rooms. Two families in each one already. The rest have taken all the bedding and are sleeping all over this dirty floor. I think I’m going to lose my mind. The food is gone. The kids are hungry. The babies are crying. I cannot care for one more person. Tell them to go away.” And Miriam turns, stomps off and promptly steps on the foot of a child who immediately screams, more from the confusion than the pain.
Or, was her name Adina? What would the difference be?
When Adina overhears her husband, the innkeeper, sending the young couple away, she pushes and shoves her way through the crowd. “Stop, tell them to come back. Wait!!!” In horror she says to him, “We cannot send them away. Look at her. Poor child will give birth any time now. She looks so tired. Remember how frightened I was? We must help them.”
“How?” he asks, “we are full. We have no room, no bedding and no food.”
“Our Lord would not want us to send them away. We must put them somewhere. They are helpless in a strange town.”
And, so, they ended up in the stable. Or, was it a stable?
We do not have the facts about this place. Scripture does not even call it a stable. It says she laid Him in a manger.
Archeologists tell us that in these Jewish homes the ‘stable’ was probably part of the house, maybe even a room, where some of the animals were kept at night. Thus, it would have a manger. The house probably belonged to some of Joseph’s relatives.
The real question? Would I have been a Miriam or an Adina?
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I have heard that there wasn't even an Inn. That the original language really would be translated to inner room, or guest room in someone's house. I always struggled with the idea that, here in the city of David, the city of their ancesters, there really was no relative to take in Mary and Joseph. I picture Harold, Joseph's fourth cousin twice removed, saying to his wife, "we already have 16 relatives laying all over the house, we can't take in anyone else." And his wife Esther says, "Put them downstairs with Bessie the cow and those stupid goats. At least they will have a warm place to lay down."
Then I take it even one step further and imagine some of those cranky distant female relatives being the first to see the newborn babe. They were just as much in awe of Him as the shepards who arrived later in the night