I would like to wish all the readers of my blog a very Happy Christmas.
Thinking about Christmas I created this picture, in it I wanted to show a nativity scene set in a cave used as a stable and a photo of a rough stone alcove in Colchester castle seemed to fit. The light at the top, from a concealed spotlamp, could be interpreted as being from the star that guided the shepherds.
Inside the scene are Joseph and Mary with the baby Jesus, God’s son, born into one of the lowliest of places and kneeling in front are two shepherds, one of the lowest classes of their society, a reminder that Jesus came for everyone whatever their social status.
I’ve placed the Magi, or wise men as some translations call them, outside the picture because they were outsiders, they weren’t Jews they came from somewhere in the east, the Bible doesn’t give their place of origin.
Herodotus tells us that the Magi were a powerful and learned group who dealt in signs and portents, they were certainly wealthy because the gifts they brought of gold, frankincense and myrrh were very expensive. There were also most likely more than three of them and they would have been accompanied by servants and perhaps armed guards considering the value of what they were carrying.
I placed them outside the frame for another reason, it’s unlikely the ever came to the stable. It is generally believed that they came some time after the birth of Jesus, some authorities say it was a long as two years after, by which time Joseph and Mary would have probably found better accommodation.
We can only speculate on what the effect on the neighbours a visit by a group of wealthy high-status foreigners would have been.
The figures used in the picture come from a nativity set I hand painted many years ago.