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Swaddling Clothes

The Bible contains the word “swaddling” in its text. That word is in the Book of Luke and was a “sign” to the Jews (and us too!). “swaddling” and “manger” were THE SIGN (the two had to go together, sort of like my left side and my right side. . . one is not complete without the other).. . . .

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2: 7


“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2: 12


The ancient Jewish prophet Micah foretold the birthplace for the coming Messiah seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Micah said that the Son of God would be born in the little insignificant village near Jerusalem called Bethlehem. History records that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was indeed born in Bethlehem, not in Nazareth where He was raised, not in Capernaum where He conducted His ministry, not even in Jerusalem where He was crucified, buried, and resurrected, but Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem.


The actual birthplace of Jesus Christ in the little town of Bethlehem has a prophetic significance both in the past and the future. The past significance of Migdal Edar: Migdal Edar, the tower of the flock mentioned in Micah 4:8, is the watchtower where the priestly shepherds would watch over their flocks in the shepherd’s fields there at Bethlehem.


It was in the lower portion of this watchtower that the birthing of the lambs would take place. The shepherds would wrap the newborn lambs in swaddling clothes to protect the body of the lambs which would be offered as sacrifice at the Temple just four miles away in Jerusalem. Wrapped in swaddling clothes to keep the new lambs without spot or blemish, they would be laid in a manger until they had calmed down.


Yes, the lamb was wrapped in swaddling clothes to protect it from any harm and they laid the lamb in a manger lined with soft hay. (Remember the lamb for sacrifice must be without blemish. A bruised or broken bone would disqualify it.) Once the lamb had settled down from the birthing process, the shepherd would remove the swathing materials and deliver the lamb to its mother. The lamb would receive special care from the shepherd/priests because this lamb would be sacrificed for the sins of the people.


The prophetic significance of Migdal Edar: the priestly shepherds in their fields near Bethlehem on that Christmas Eve knew where to go to find the newborn Messiah, Jesus Christ. He would be found where the angel had told them, wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger in the lower floor of the tower of the flock, Migdal Edar, and He would be there as the Lamb to be sacrificed to take away the sin of the world.


The shepherd/priests had trained all of their lives for this very moment. To the common passerby, seeing a baby in a manger meant very little; however, to the shepherd/priest it was a sign of the coming Messiah. They were keenly aware that the Messiah would one day free the people from their sins. A baby, announced by the heavenly choir, lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes was more than they could handle – they “came with haste.” They immediately recognized the sign – this baby was the One born to die for the sins of the world.


Micah 4:8 also speaks of the fact that this One born in the tower of the flock, Migdal Edar, Jesus Christ would setup His dominion, His Kingdom in Jerusalem, only several miles from where He had been born. The actual site, Migdal Edar, for the cradle of Jesus Christ, would also reveal the prophecy for where Jesus Christ the Messiah would wear His crown as the King of kings and the Lord of lords for a coming future kingdom right here on earth.

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  Luke 2:14


10 comments to Swaddling Clothes

  • Rob

    I’m looking for a reference to confirm that the shepherds would have wrapped the baby lambs in swaddling clothes. I LOVE the implications of it but want to be able to back it up. Any help you can give is appreciated.



    • Will

      Job 38:9 References swaddling clothes

      • Will

        December 2012
        The First Christmas
        by Nick Harris

        There are many misunderstandings today about the events surrounding the first Christmas. For one thing Jesus was not born in an out building behind a motel in Bethlehem as many Christmas cards seem to suggest. The truth is this: Jesus was born in a cave used for the birthing of sacrificial lambs. The male lambs born in that cave, and others like it in the Bethlehem area, were to be used exclusively in the Temple. They were set-aside to be the TAMIL, or the morning sacrifices which began each day. They were also used for the burnt offerings. The female lambs were used in the Temple for peace offerings.

        However, the most common usage for these lambs that were born in Bethlehem was this: they were destined to become Passover lambs. Therefore, the shepherds that attended them were actually shepherd-priests. These men had been designated from the time they were very young to be the ones who would be assigned the task of \”keeping watch” over the Temple’s flocks. One of their tasks was to make certain that none of these lambs were blemished while being birthed.

        According to the Mishnah, these lambs were immediately wrapped in \”swaddling cloths\” after their births to protect them from injury, since baby lambs tend to thrash about and harm themselves in their first couple of hours of their lives. The shepherds who attended these lambs, being under special rabbinical care, were also required to keep their birthing caves ritually clean.

    • Gene

      These ideas come from Alfred Edersheim who wrote the book like and times of Jesus the Messiah.

  • Alice Sharping

    Thank you for this beautiful teaching. I researched it further, and I used it to teach about “Christmas Wrapping” for our women’s tea. How like our beautiful Savior!

  • Steven Theobald

    Thanks for this insightful description of the significance of the swaddling bands. It really helps me understand why the manger scene was so important.

  • It has been my understanding the swaddling strips were typically used for burial cloth when the person died. All people traveling the road were wrapped in their own swaddling which they carried with them in case they passed away during their journey. The sign to the shepherds of the Lamb of God found to be wrapped in swaddling and lying in a manger indicated that the \”LAMB\” was perfect, without blemish (sin) and earmarked to DIE for the forgiveness of the peoples \”SIN\”. Jesus of course was the last and final perfect sacrifice. All previous lamb sacrifices pointed to the culmination of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The lambs were sacrificed at 9:00am and then again at 3pm. Jesus was nailed to the cross during the morning sacrifice and gave up the ghost six hours later at the 3\’ O\’clock and final sacrifice of the passover.

  • Mary Wilson

    We had a minister who studies Hebrew teachings and customs and recently returned from Israel come to our church to teach on the birth of Jesus. He was telling us the swaddling clothes were the priestly garments that were used in temple worship. After they were worn and needed replaced, instead of throwing them away, they used them for the swaddling of the sacrificial lambs. The levite that helped with the birthing would gather the priestly garments that had been cleaned and then wrap the lamb after the birth until they were quieted and could be examined for perfection. How the Lamb of God was wrapped in priestly swaddling clothes to be the perfect lamb to be sacrificed for the sins of the world has strengthened my love of the Birth of our Savior! Being the shepherds knew of this custom they knew exactly where to find this babe who had come to be their King.

  • Vponder

    Thanks for the information contained in the shepherd priest who wrapped newborn lambs for the sacrifice .

  • Vickraman

    this make sense

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