Migdal Edar

Author Name: 

The gift of life in the form of a little baby never ceases to bring a sense of awe and wonder. We wait, we imagine, we hope, we anticipate, but one day it becomes a reality. The birth of Jesus was no exception. And His birth should continue to fill us with awe and wonder, particularly because it shows the hand of an Almighty God, Who through the mouths and pens of men of old, prophesied in detail about this Baby that should be born.
Micah was a prophet. He prophesied of the coming judgment of the wicked nations as well as the restoration of God’s people. Couched among these prophecies, we find several details about the coming Ruler of Israel. For instance, in Micah 5:2, we find the prophecy that Jesus place of birth would be in Bethlehem Ephratah. But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. The Hebrew word [bêyth-lechem] means “house of bread.” It is no coincidence that the Bread of Life was born in Bethlehem.
Micah 4:8 contains an often overlooked reference to another place that is likely just as significant as the town in which the Savior would make His appearance on earth. And thou, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem. An inquiry into a Hebrew dictionary, such as the Strong’s Concordance, tells us that “tower of the flock” means: “Migdal-Edar, a place in Palestine.”
Most of us understand that the traditional nativity scene, complete with a wooden manger, shepherds, and wise men, has numerous flaws. After all, according to details from the Biblical account, it is likely that the wise men didn’t meet Jesus until several years after His birth. Various theories have made their rounds… Was it perhaps in a cave? Was the manger actually a watering bowl carved out of the rock? There are many details we may never know.
But combining the Biblical story, Biblical prophecy, and Jewish tradition may prove both illustrative and helpful. Historians tell us that this watchtower was located along the road known as the Kings Highway, between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. This highway ran along the mountain ridge, making it an ideal setting for a watchtower. But according to history, it served a dual purpose. While at times it was used for the safety of the country, it was also used to watch over large flocks of sheep.
Now these were not just ordinary shepherds, as we often hear. And neither were they ordinary sheep. The flocks of Migdal Edar were raised for a very special purpose. And the shepherds were specially trained for their job. The sheep that were born here were destined to become temple sacrifices in Jerusalem.
Migdal Edar was the birthplace of these special lambs. Under the watchtower was a cave-like lower portion. Ewes would be brought here to be protected and cared for while they delivered their newborn lambs. Temple ritual required the birthing place be ceremonially clean. Special care had to be taken that they were not blemished—only a perfect lamb would be acceptable. And so, shortly after birth, the lambs would be wrapped in swaddling clothes (described historically as strips of cloth) to keep them from injury or blemish. Then at some point they would be examined by a priest to ensure they were fit for use as a sacrifice.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger (Luke 2:7-12).
The angel told the shepherds that they would know the Messiah because they would find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes. They didn’t need directions—they know exactly where He was! While many people stumbled at the coming of the Messiah, it seems the shepherds understood. It made perfect sense that the newborn Jesus would be born in the birthplace of the lambs destined to be sacrificed for the sins of men. And so they went and worshipped.
May we too bow down and worship with renewed love and adoration this Christmas. Jesus, the promised Lamb of God, the hope of Israel, the One pictured year after year through the sacrifice at Passover, is no longer a baby. This infant born in a Bethlehem stable, became a man, carried a cross down Jerusalem’s street toward Golgotha. There he died as the ultimate Passover sacrifice, paying the price for my sin and yours. The Lamb of God is our High Priest, becoming both the offering and the offeror.
“Come and worship…worship Christ the newborn King!”