Did the Wise Men Meet the Shepherds?

by Steve Ray on December 16, 2011

Today I will be on Relevant Radio discussing Bethlehem and the Birth of Our Lord Jesus.

I wrote this article which I thought you might enjoy and find informative. By the way, the picture below was taken from a mural painted in the Chapel of Angels in Shepherd’s Field in Bethlehem where the shepherds were actually tending their flocks by night 2,000 years ago. We take our pilgrims into the caves where the shepherds were staying.

Nativity Shepherds Field 45-5Did the Wise Men Meet the Shepherds?
by Steve Ray

A king was born. But He was born unlike most kings. There was no pomp and circumstance; there were no midwives or court attendants. There was only the bleating of sheep and the buzzing of flies. Birth in a cave-stable was not like birth in a royal palace.

When a king is born, proclamations ring out across the land. But few people knew about this exceptional birth. So angels sang it out.

(To read the whole story, click here; for more such articles, click here.)

To join us on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, with Steve Ray as your guide, visit www.SteveGoes.com.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim December 18, 2008 at 12:43 PM


Do you have a timeline explaining the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke?

How does the Luke account of the infant in a manger square with Matthews account of the magi visiting a child in a house? Is there a gap of time or a change in venue? I have heard that the Magi visit a year after His birth.

God Bless,


Thomas A. Beineke December 24, 2008 at 2:38 PM


I heard you on Relevant Radio approximately a week ago on the topic of whether the Wise Men met the Shepherds. I checked out your web site and enjoyed your article. Previously I had typically thought that they had come later – perhaps as much as two years later given the fact that Herod order the slaughter of all boys two years of age or younger. We all know, however, of Herod’s character, and he very likely would have killed all boys 5 or under if there had been as much as two years. Nonetheless, we cannot have the Wise Men arrive in Bethlehem prior to the expiration of the forty days necessary for Mary’s purification, Luke 2: 22, and the whole story of Simeon and Anna. Undoubtedly Herod’s slaughter of the infants and the holy family’s flight into Egypt took place very soon after the arrival of the Wise Men in Jerusalem, probably within days. Hence I am forced to conclude that the Wise Men probably did not meet the shepherds unless they stayed in the vicinity for over forty days. I guess this is just one of those questions that will have to wait on a definitive answer until we get to Heaven and can ask one of the shepherds or Wise Men.

Near the bottom of page 5 you discuss the differing perspectives of Matthew and Luke. I agree in every respect except for your statement that: “And while the genealogy provided by Matthew relates to Joseph’s ancestry, some scholars have considered the genealogy recorded in Luke to be Mary’s family tree.” Both genealogies are of Joseph.

Eusebius, the first Church historian gives a very clear explanation of the differing genealogies From an edited version, “Eusebius, the Church Historian,” by Paul L. Maier, Kregel Publications, 1999, page 35 ff, we read Eusebius’ quote from a letter from Africanus to Aristides:

“Names in the families of Israel were reckoned either according to nature or law: by nature in the case of genuine offspring; by law when another man fathered children in the name of a brother who had died childless. (See Deut. 25: 5-6) Since no clear hope of the resurrection had as yet been given, they depicted the future promise by a mortal “resurrection” so that the name of the deceased might survive. These genealogies, then include some who succeeded their actual fathers and others who were children of one father but were recorded as children of another. Thus both the memories of the actual and the nominal fathers were preserved. Hence neither of the Gospels is in error, since they take both nature and law into account. For the two families – one descended from Solomon and the other from Nathan – were so interconnected through the remarriage of childless widows and the “resurrections” of offspring that the same persons could correctly be deemed as children of different parents at different times – sometimes of reputed fathers, sometimes of actual. Both accounts are therefore accurate, though complicated, as they bring the line down to Joseph.

“To clarify, I will explain the relationship of the families. Reckoning the generations from David through Solomon [as does Matthew 1: 15-16], the third from the end is Matthan, whose son was Jacob, the father of Joseph. But if we follow Luke [3: 23-37] and reckon from Nathan, the son of David, the corresponding third from the end is Melchi, whose son was Heli, the father of Joseph. It must therefore be shown how both Heli and Jacob can be fathers to Joseph, and both Matthan and Melchi, belonging to two different families, were grandfathers.

“Now Matthan and Melchi, since they took the same wife, were fathers of stepbrothers, for the law permits a woman who has been divorced or widowed to marry again. Now Estha, the traditional name of the wife in question, first married Matthan (descended from Solomon) and bore him Jacob. When Matthan died, his widow married Melchi (descended from Nathan), of the same tribe but different family. And bore him Heli. Thus Jacob and Heli had the same mother, and when Heli died childless, his [half] brother Jacob married his widow and fathered Joseph by her. Joseph, then was the natural son of Jacob but the legal son of Heli, for whom a good brother had “raised up” offspring. Matthew uses the term begot for physical descent, whereas Luke says “who was, as was suppose” – note the addendum – “the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Melchi” [3: 23-24]. It was impossible to express legal descent more precisely, and he never uses the term begot regarding such children in tracing the line back to “Adam, the son of God.””

I learned this fascinating story at a seminar some years ago given by Dr. Maier. It is so beautiful and factual that I just had to share it with you.

Thanks again for the article.

Tom Beineke

Linder Gardner January 8, 2009 at 6:30 PM

Jan 8, 2009
My name is Linder Gardner I have a brother that is a child of Lord and he is in prison. Please mail some bible studies paper. To help the person sprit and mind be on the Lord and the enjoy and the hard time of the person life. The name is

William K. Barnes.
G 34836 4A-28-U
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin Ca 94947

And please also mail my some also
Linder Gardner
1385 Lucretia Ave #2303
San Jose Ca 95122

Thank You And The Lord Bless You All.

Barbara December 16, 2009 at 11:26 AM


One possible timeline would be:

Lk. 1:5-80 Annunciation & Visitation

Lk. 2:1-7; Mt.1:18-25 Birth of Jesus

Lk. 2:8-40 Shepherds in the fields & the Presentation in the Temple

Mt. 2:1- 23 Wise men and the Flight to Egypt

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