The Animals


Ya’akov the temple mouse spends most of his days in the temple, but he takes time to visit his family who live in a stable down the road.

The scriptures that describe the Nativity don’t speak of a stable and they don’t specify any animals. However, they do speak of a manger. A manger is a trough made from wood or stone that holds the food for animals. In Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth, houses had two floors. The people lived on the second floor while the animals lived on the first floor. This floor was usually dug out—a little like a basement. Having the animals underneath the house helped to keep the house warm for the people above. So, although the scriptures don’t name the animals explicitly, we can assume that they were there. There were probably goats, sheep, and maybe oxen and donkeys. More than likely, the animals were moved out into the courtyard and fresh hay would be laid down when Mary and Joseph entered the space, so that Mary could give birth in privacy as was her culture’s way.

I wonder what the animals thought with all the upheaval in the stable. Maybe there were smaller critters present. Maybe they were quietly watching the miracle of this story unfold. Like many of the “lowly” people involved in the Good News story, these witnesses had a vital role to play.

Ask yourself:

  • When do we overlook the least and make judgments about the significance of others?
  • How does it feel when we feel insignificant and then are later lifted up and recognized for who we are and what we contribute?
  • How does it feel when we aren’t?

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