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and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.a Bible other translations
a[24]
From Lev. 12:8

“A pair of turtledoves.” This verse contains important information concerning the timing of the events of the birth of Jesus. According to Leviticus 12:8, a woman was only allowed to bring a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons as a sacrifice after childbirth if she could not afford a lamb. This shows that even more than a month after Jesus was born the Magi had not arrived in Bethlehem yet, because once they did, Mary and Joseph could have well afforded a lamb as a birth sacrifice. That Joseph and Mary could not afford a lamb was no doubt in part because Joseph did not have a prestigious job, but was a builder (see commentary on Matt. 13:55).

Mary’s cleansing and the presentation of Jesus in the Temple would have been 40 days after the birth of Jesus (Lev. 12:2-4). Mary and Joseph would have made the seven-mile walk with Jesus from Bethlehem to the Temple in Jerusalem to present Jesus only because Bethlehem was so close to the Temple. Women were not expected to travel far after childbirth. After presenting Jesus and making the sacrifices, they went back to Bethlehem, where Joseph had no doubt found work. The magi arrived on the scene almost two years later, which is why Herod killed the babies in Bethlehem and the surrounding area who were two years old and younger. Had the Magi already come to Bethlehem and been with the shepherds at the manger, as tradition teaches, then the gold, frankincense, and myrrh, that they brought would have made Joseph and Mary far too wealthy for her sacrifice of the doves or pigeons to be accepted by God. The idea that Joseph and Mary would not have brought a lamb because Jesus was the lamb cannot be substantiated. They, of all people, would have kept the Levitical Law.


Commentary for: Luke 2:24