And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Whenever discussions are started about the December 25 date used to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus, this subject typically comes up. Those who wish to discredit and cast doubt on Christianity will say, "It is too cold in December for the shepherds to be tending their flocks!"
So lets take a look at the Truth. The Truth is of course very important - from John 8:32:
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
To begin - lets look at the Scripture.
This is a step the politically correct and those who desire to cast doubt on Jesus overlook. They of course have a goal or desire to cast doubt on the Scripture. There is an interesting passage in Genesis 31:38-40 that is very relevant to this issue:
This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten.
That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night.
Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes.
This passage is when Laban confronts Jacob as Jacob has left Laban's household with Rachel and his family. Note that for 20 years Jacob had tended Laban's and others flocks. He tended the flocks through drought. He tended the flocks through frost by night.
The area where Jacob tended the flock was well north of Jerusalem and Bethlehem is a few miles south of Jerusalem. In Genesis 28:2 we are told where Laban lived:
"Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughers of Laban thy mother's brother."
Padanaram is another name for the city of Haran. (Click on map on left for full size map). This location is 10 miles north of today's Syrian border - in Turkey along the Balikh River.
So the weather, where the Scripture tells us that Jacob tended flocks being further north (417 miles from Bethlehem to Laban's home), would be as cold or colder than the shepherds around Bethlehem would have faced. At the right is a picture taken January 3, 2012 in Harran, Turkey - the modern day village at the site of Biblical Haran which shows livestock including a few sheep grazing. (Credit: click here for Flicker link).
So obviously shepherds tended their flocks even in rather cool times and those around Bethlehem would have a milder climate than Jacob several hundred miles to the north.
So if Jacob tended flocks much further north, have you ever wondered what the average December temperatures are around Bethlehem?
Average December Temperatures around Bethlehem