753. The First Day's Journey

Luke 2:44‑45  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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Luke 2:44-45. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
This does not mean that they traveled an entire day before they missed the lad. An ordinary “day’s journey” varied from eighteen to thirty miles. See note on 1 Kings 19:4 (#315). But when a party started on a journey the first day’s travel was invariably shorter than the usual distance. This is a very ancient custom, and is still practiced. When everything is ready for the caravan to move they slowly march on, but halt for the first night at a distance of from three to eight miles from the place of starting. The reason assigned for this usage is, that if anything has been left behind through mistake or forgetfulness, someone may with but little trouble return and get it in time to join the caravan the next day.
In the ease before us they made the short journey of the first day, and then halted for the night; so that, instead of traveling all day without missing Jesus, they only traveled a few hours. The first stopping-place of nearly all traveling parties who now leave Jerusalem for the north is el-Birch, supposed to be the ancient Beer, or Beeroth. It is only eight or ten miles from the city, and is considered a three hours’ journey. There is a tradition that this is the very place where the caravan, of which the family of Jesus was a part, made their first halt; and it certainly has greater probability in its favor than many other traditions connected with Palestine. Halting here, or not far from it, when the family gathered together they noticed the absence of Jesus, and immediately went back to the city to find him.