What is the average temperature around Bethlehem in December?
Remember, Bethlehem is a few miles south of Jerusalem at about 2,500 feet which is the same as Jerusalem. The flocks would have been tended more in the valley than at the top of the mount, so the temperatures faced by the shepherds would have been warmer than either recorded in Jerusalem or those that Jacob experienced.
With very little effort this information is easily available. The Weather Channel website provides the recorded average low temperature by month for many locations, including Jerusalem. In fact it will compare the average lows per month between two locations. Doing a little research with this tool gives an interesting comparison between Lake City, Florida and Jerusalem, Israel (Click here and then select Avg Low option).
As you will see from either using the link or from the image at the right, the December temperature in Jerusalem is two degrees cooler than Lake City Florida; 42 vs. 44 degress. The same is true for Jacksonville, Florida. However the average low temperature for Valdosta, Georgia and Albany, Georgia are a degree or two cooler than Jerusalem. So the average December low temperature in Jerusalem (at the top of the mount) is the equilvalent of extreme south Georgia or extreme north Florida. Not exactly Arctic conditions so to speak.
And that is at the top of the mount in Jerusalem and the valleys where the sheep would be tended would be warmer. So the average December temperatures that the shepherds would have faced would be warmer than Lake City, Florida.
Anyone who has ever been around Lake City, Florida can tell you. December winters in the area are rather mild, while there may be a few nights with a freeze or frost, they are NOT severe. Certainly the hardy people of the Biblical times would have been capable of facing this rather mild climate! Jacob certainly was.
So the statement that it is too cold in December for the shepherds to be tending their flocks is incorrect!
Most of the people who make the claim that it is too cold for shepherds to be in the fields with their flocks have never tended sheep (or goats). Some information on sheep herding and care for sheep will verify that once again that this is a false claim.
Logistics of caring for a flock of sheep.