Jesus wasn't born refugee

Which is a fancier cover?
On the Christmas Eve this year, the telly had an ecumenical service where the Big Teapot Cover of one of our churches spoke nicely about how Jesus "was born to a poor refugee family".

Actually Jesus was not born to a poor family of refugees. According to Bible, he was born to family of Joseph, an entrepreneurial or self-employed constructor, who was forced by the tax-collecting Roman Empire to travel to Bethlehem, "city of David", because that happened to be the assigned place where his records would be taken to the census administered by the governor Quirinius [1].

The tax collector did not care whether it was reasonable that Joseph and his bride Mary, who was pregnant, had to travel to the site of census, at a time when the accommodation capacity in the place was absolutely fully booked. The tax collector just cared about getting everyone in their books so that they could squeeze every penny that belonged to the Emperor.

So Jesus was born to an entrepreneur family harassed by tax collection, not a refugee family.

Then, after Bethlehem, Jesus's family actually became persecuted for personal reasons. The client king Herod received information from the three Magi which he misinterpreted to mean that he was about to be challenged by a Messiah, and therefore decided to take preventive action. He had male infants of Bethlehem region murdered in order to get rid of the potential leader of this insurgency [2]. Joseph, on the other hand, had been warned of this in a divine dream, and his family sought asylum in Egypt for a couple of years. When Herod had died, they moved to Nazareth [3]. However, they were not particularly poor - Joseph was a constructor known in his home town, a man of means who took care of his family. He was able to travel to Jerusalem to visit the temple [4], etc. Later the family would e.g. visit an affluent wedding where hundreds of litres of wine would be served. [5]

It is fashionable to talk about refugees. It's not fashionable to talk about the oppressive effects of taxation and how the state collects information about people and their financials.

[1] Luke 2:4
[2] Matthew 2:16-18
[3] Matthew 2:13-14,19-20
[4] Luke 2:41
[5] John 2:1-10

(The historical timeline does not quite match the Biblical references. According to sources, Herod died in 4 BC, and Quirinius became the governor only at 6 AD; for the description in Gospel of Luke to be accurate, these events should be the other way round.)

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