The road to Bethlehem

1)

BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool explains his motivation for retracing the Christmas journey made by Joseph and Mary in the New Testament.

Aleem Maqbool and his donkey

For all the sacred places in this region – Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jericho – it is the land in-between where you can often feel most connected to history.

The hills and valleys have played a part in so many of the stories that still shape the lives of millions around the world today.

Whether you believe Mary and Joseph’s walk ever took place or not, most of us became familiar with the story at a young age.

Many of us are even scarred by embarrassing moments acting in school nativity plays – or perhaps that is just me… I once played a sheep.

If it did happen, the journey of around 150km (93 miles), along Roman roads and dirt tracks, is likely to have been an arduous one, particularly for a heavily pregnant woman.

What does not get included in the nativity plays, is the probability that the couple also faced hostility from Samaritans who lived in what is now the northern West Bank.

Complex land

Of course, there are new difficulties today. The supposed route goes through areas of continued conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Army incursions, militancy, and checkpoints manned by soldiers are commonplace, and all have the potential to interrupt my journey.

Still, the notion of a walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem is, for me, a romantic one.

When I have told people here what I intend to do, they have generally seemed quite amused, but understand that it is a vehicle to tell modern day stories along this ancient route.

It will hopefully help me to get to know at least a little bit more about this complex land through getting to hear people’s stories on the way.

For carrying daily provisions and equipment, a donkey seemed as practical a solution now as it might have done two millennia ago, and will, of course, be an added connection to the tale that inspired the journey.

SOURCE


BBC NEWS Middle East Route map: The road to Bethlehem
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Aleem Maqbool will be repeating on foot the journey made by Mary and Joseph according to Luke the evangelist, about 2,000 years ago.

Aleem’s journey, due to end on Christmas Eve, could turn out to be just as hard as that made by his predecessors, but in different ways.

Here are some of the places he and his donkey, Cynthia, are expected to pass through.

Nazareth : The town, according to Luke, where Mary and Joseph lived and where the Angel Gabriel appeared. The other gospels note that Jesus was brought up here.

Jenin : Known in the Bible as En-Gannim, a large refugee camp lies adjacent to the town.

Nablus: Founded by the Romans near the Biblical town of Shechem, where some say Prophet Joseph’s tomb is located. It is a city with a recent history of militancy and is now surrounded by Israeli checkpoints.

Salfit : A Palestinian town near the large Jewish settlement of Ariel.

Al Bireh : Mary and Joseph are said to have lost Jesus here, on a later trip.

Beit Sahour: The place where, according to tradition, the Heavenly Host appeared to the shepherds.

Bethlehem : Aleem’s journey ends in Manger Square. The Church of the Nativity, located on the square, is believed by Christians to have been built on the site of the manger where Jesus was lain in the Christmas story.

Story from BBC NEWS

BBC NEWS Middle East Route map: The road to Bethlehem

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Aleem’s journey, due to end on Christmas Eve, could turn out to be just as hard as that made by his predecessors, but in different ways.

Here are some of the places he and his donkey, Cynthia, are expected to pass through.

Nazareth : The town, according to Luke, where Mary and Joseph lived and where the Angel Gabriel appeared. The other gospels note that Jesus was brought up here.

Jenin : Known in the Bible as En-Gannim, a large refugee camp lies adjacent to the town.

Nablus: Founded by the Romans near the Biblical town of Shechem, where some say Prophet Joseph’s tomb is located. It is a city with a recent history of militancy and is now surrounded by Israeli checkpoints.

Salfit : A Palestinian town near the large Jewish settlement of Ariel.

Al Bireh : Mary and Joseph are said to have lost Jesus here, on a later trip.

Beit Sahour: The place where, according to tradition, the Heavenly Host appeared to the shepherds.

Bethlehem : Aleem’s journey ends in Manger Square. The Church of the Nativity, located on the square, is believed by Christians to have been built on the site of the manger where Jesus was lain in the Christmas story.


The road to Bethlehem – 1)

BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool explains his motivation for retracing the Christmas journey made by Joseph and Mary in the New Testament.




Aleem Maqbool and his donkey

For all the sacred places in this region – Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jericho – it is the land in-between where you can often feel most connected to history.

The hills and valleys have played a part in so many of the stories that still shape the lives of millions around the world today.

Whether you believe Mary and Joseph’s walk ever took place or not, most of us became familiar with the story at a young age.

Many of us are even scarred by embarrassing moments acting in school nativity plays – or perhaps that is just me… I once played a sheep.

If it did happen, the journey of around 150km (93 miles), along Roman roads and dirt tracks, is likely to have been an arduous one, particularly for a heavily pregnant woman.

What does not get included in the nativity plays, is the probability that the couple also faced hostility from Samaritans who lived in what is now the northern West Bank.

Complex land

Of course, there are new difficulties today. The supposed route goes through areas of continued conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Army incursions, militancy, and checkpoints manned by soldiers are commonplace, and all have the potential to interrupt my journey.

Still, the notion of a walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem is, for me, a romantic one.

When I have told people here what I intend to do, they have generally seemed quite amused, but understand that it is a vehicle to tell modern day stories along this ancient route.

It will hopefully help me to get to know at least a little bit more about this complex land through getting to hear people’s stories on the way.

For carrying daily provisions and equipment, a donkey seemed as practical a solution now as it might have done two millennia ago, and will, of course, be an added connection to the tale that inspired the journey.

SOURCE

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