As we continue in reading Scriptures related to the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior, we recognize that a series of awe-inspiring circumstances intersect in a miraculous manner. In one such account we find a more complete unfolding of the narrative in Luke 2:1-7. Taken from that passage, the Verse of the Day for December 21, 2016 is revised and re-posted here:
Luke 2:6-7 (AMP):
6 While they were there [in Bethlehem], the time came for her to give birth, 7 and she gave birth to her Son, her firstborn; and she wrapped Him in [swaddling] cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no [private] room for them in the inn.
This concluding passage contains a reference to an ancient custom associated with birth, that is, Mary wrapped the child in “swaddling cloths” or as the King James Version renders “swaddling clothes” or “swaddling strips” in the New Living Translation. The practice was for a child, particularly a child of royal lineage, to be salted and swaddled. Shortly after birth, the child would be washed with water into which a pinch of salt had been added, symbolizing a covenant of salt, whereby the words spoken by the child would be words of truth, always seasoned with salt. The child would then be wrapped in swaddling bands or swaddling clothes, strips of fine linen to represent that the child would grow up to walk straight and tall.
Bishop KC Pillai, a converted Hindu who embraced Christianity, wrote extensively on Eastern customs and manners, known as Orientalisms, as revealed in the Bible. He point outs some of the distinctive features of the custom of swaddling and notes that when Israel strayed from the precepts of God and walked in idolatry, their abominable practices were described in this way in Ezekiel 16:1-4, indicating how far they had strayed from the precepts of Jehovah:
Ezekiel 16:1-4 (KJV):
Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,
3 And say, thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite.
4 And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.
Swaddling continued to be practiced beyond Biblical times, as a recent blog entry from needleprint.blogspot.com commented on the elaborately embroidered bands made for young prince Federigo, Duke of Urbino, notable 15th Century figure from the Italian Renaissance, pictured here:
In addition, when the angels announced to the shepherds that the Savior had been born, they were given a sign that established the truth of their words:
And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12 AMP).
The timing of the arrival of the shepherds had to be precise since the swaddling clothes were left on the child for only a few minutes. The shepherds could not arrive on the scene before the swaddling had begun, nor could they arrive after the custom had been completed. They had to be in the right place at the right time. As we so clearly see, the account of the birth of Jesus Christ abounds with “signs, wonders, and miracles,” one of which involves his being “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.”
“He’s Here” by Eddie James offers a powerful, musical rendering of the account of the Savior who was “born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes. . .”