Asked in Nazareth
If the distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is 80 miles how long would it have taken Mary and Joseph to walk the distance?
September 26, 2015 5:43AM
Though it would normally take about 4 days to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, because Mary was nearing her pregnancy term and riding a donkey, it would require more than 4 days for fear of miscarriage. So perhaps a week (or more) would have been needed.
Various responses from our users:
- The common form of travel in those days was by caravan, especially with long trips. Such a mode was far safer in case of accident or injury or possible attack by bandits, as well as being more enjoyable. With a census like this involving as many people as it did, a caravan going to Bethlehem would not be hard to find or join. Caravans would travel about 20 miles in a day, and the distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem (80 miles) would translate into a 4-day journey.
- It's worth noting, though, that the Bible never mentions a donkey - that's a later tradition.
September 26, 2015 5:36AM
If Mary and Joseph travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, as
stated in Luke's Gospel, the distance in a straight line from
Nazareth to Bethlehem is not important to the time such a journey
would have taken.
Samaria lay between Galilee and Judea, the region in which the town of Bethlehem lay. There was much ill feeling between the Samaritans and the Jews, although they practised much the same religion. Any lone traveller crossing from Galilee into Samaria would be at risk of attack and would certainly not receive lodgings or any other type of assistance on the journey. The family would have had to travel east, cross over into modern-day Jordan and then travel south on the eastern side of the Jordan River, before crossing back into Judea. This is a much longer journey.
Tradition has it that Mary, because she was heavily pregnant, rode on a donkey while Joseph walked. A fit man leading this donkey could have, at a guess, travelled perhaps 20 miles a day. However, some Christians say that Joseph must have been a older man, past his prime. Perhaps the best guess is that this journey would have taken at least a week.