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my wife also is advanced in years." And the angel answering said unto him, "I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and I am sent to speak unto thee, and to bring thee these glad-tidings. And behold thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day when these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season."
Now the people, who had been praying in the court without, waited for Zacharias, and wondered that he tarried so long in the temple; and when he came out, they perceived that he had seen a vision, for he made signs to them, not being able to speak.
And it came to pass as the angel had foretold to Zacharias, for his wife Elizabeth bore him a son; and when her neighbours and her relatives would have named him after his father, she said, "Not so; but he shall be called John." They said unto her, "There is none of
thy kindred that is called by this name;" and they made signs to his father to know how he would have him called. Then Zacharias asked for a tablet, and wrote
upon it "His name is John.” They all marvelled at this, and still more when the tongue of Zacharias was immediately loosed, and he began to speak and to praise God. Zacharias was also informed by God himself what his son would be, and foretold that he would become a prophet of the Most High, and that he would be the first to proclaim the great salvation, with which God was about to bless his people Israel and all mankind.
THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST.
AT the time when Jesus Christ was born, the Jews were under the dominion
of the Romans. Now Cæsar Augustus, who was Emperor of Rome, issued a decree, that all the Jews should have their names entered in a register. Accordingly they all went to be registered, each in his own city. Among the rest, Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David.
He went up to be registered with Mary his betrothed wife; and it came to pass, while they were there, that she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him to rest in the court before the house, because there was no room in the guestchamber.*
*There were no inns in Judæa, such as we have in this country, but they who were on a journey were commonly received into the houses of their friends and relatives; and the room in which they were lodged was called the guest,
Now there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks 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 of the Lord said unto them, "Fear not; for, behold! I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you that it is as I say; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the court before a house."
And suddenly there was with the anchamber; see Mark xiv. 14; Luke xxii. 11. As there was no room in this chamber, Mary was obliged to lodge in the court before the house, where the cattle and the implements of husbandry were kept; and as the climate of Judæa was fine and warm, she would not suffer from remaining all night in the open air, as we should in this country.
gel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men!" And it came to pass, when the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, "Let us now go even to Bethlehem, and see this great thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us." So they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe, lying in a court. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad what had been told them concerning this child. All they that heard it wondered at those things which had been told them by the shepherds; but Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things which they had heard and seen.
When the child was eight days old, he was called Jesus, which was the name