Shepherds in the Fields near Bethlehem
Bethlehem means “house of bread” in Hebrew. The town was known for its grain fields running down its slopes. After the harvest, shepherds were welcome to bring their animals into the fields to eat the remaining grain and stubble. In return, the sheep and goats fertilized the fields for the next planting season. In first century Judea, being a shepherd was considered a lowly profession. These were the social outcasts. That’s what makes this next account in the Gospel of Luke so special.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-16)
The birth announcement of Jesus was not made in Jerusalem to King Herod or to the temple high priest — it was made to lowly shepherds working out in the fields.