On the edge of the fields surrounding Bethlehem where most of those sheep were being born, there was a two-story stone tower called the Migdal Eder tower. Israeli archeologists recently found this tower. The picture is of the recent archeological excavation.
This tower is mentioned in the Book of Micah regarding the announcement of the birth of the Messiah.
“As for you, tower of the flock,
Hill of the daughter of Zion,
To you it will come—
Even the former dominion will come,
The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.” Mic. 4:8
In plain English this is saying that the Messiah will be revealed from the Migdal Eder—“the tower of the flock.”
The priests would climb the tower and look out over all the flocks to see any signs a sheep was about to give birth. Sheep usually get fidgety, paw the ground and/or separate themselves from the flock just before birthing a lamb. When the signs were noticed, they would bring the sheep to the tower’s ground floor where it would give birth in a ceremonially clean area.
When the the lamb was born and if it was without blemish, it was immediately wrapped in strips of cloth made from old priestly underwear. The purpose was to make sure the lamb would stay unblemished. The priest would then put the lamb in a manger to keep it safe from getting trampled.
So when the angel of the Lord told the shepherds in the field that the Savior had been born and the “sign” was He would be wrapped in the same cloths as the sacrificial sheep and placed in a manger, they would have immediately understood the significance of the “sign.”
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. Luke 2:15
It’s obvious that the shepherds knew exactly where to go with only limited info—they headed to the birthing tower where they found Joseph and Mary with Jesus lying where sacrificial sheep would lie.
And, of course, don’t miss the fact that the first clothes Jesus wore were the clothes of a priest!
So when you hear the Christmas story this year, we hope you have the chance to share, as Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the story.”