Such people as the Biblical shepherds, who were privileged to witness rare and glorious historical events, are bound to arouse our interest in the question of who they might have been. Were they merely average shepherds tending their flocks for a living? Or were they Levite priests, assigned to guard the many sheep being especially raised, without blemish, for use in sacrifice in the Temple at Jerusalem? If they were Levites, how right it is that the Heavenly Host should have appeared to them, for does not the Levitical, or Aaronic Priesthood hold the keys to the ministering of angels? Perhaps, as they kept watch over their flocks that night, they might have earnestly discussed what had happened to their fellow-Levite Zacharias, who only a few months before had seen an angel in the Holy Place of the Temple and had learned that he was to be the father of John, the Baptist, and had been struck dumb until the child was born. The night was broken into four "watches" of three hours apiece. So that the shepherds on duty may perhaps have heard the "glad tidings of great joy" while their companions slept. The reproduction below is a full-sized detail taken from "The Shepherds in the Fields." For those readers who wish to study the brushwork and details of clothing and facial characterization, it is shown here the actual size of the original. In painting this picture, it has been my dedicated aim to portray real people witnessing a real and sacred historical event, and to catch a momentary glimpse of the awesome grandeur of the wonderful thing that happened there that night, on the plains of Judaea.
"Shepherds in the Fields"
Image Size: 11"x18"x2"
So many legends have been spun about the Wise Men that it is refreshing to return and drink of the cool and simple Scriptural truth, and to separate fact from legend. While in this painting I have pictured the customary "three wise men," it is noteworthy that the Bible makes no mention of their number. Legend has given them names -Balthazar the Greek, Melchior the Egyptian, and Gaspar the Ethiopian. But a glance at a map will show that all of these countries lie to the west of the Holy Land, where-as the Bible points out that the wise men came from the east. So that they might have come from such lands as Syria, Babylonia, perhaps even from as far away as India. But since Matthew didn't consider their names or their number of enough importance to record, it would seem well to consider their pur-pose rather than their names, or where they came from. For regardless of the world's learning, it is still the truest wisdom to follow the Star of Bethlehem. And wise men will still come to Jeru-salem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship Him.