Rabbi Jason Sobel recently delivered a fascinating take on the significance of baby Jesus being placed in swaddling clothes after his birth in the nativity story — one that directly ties into the angelic announcement that was made to the shepherds.
“When the angels appeared to shepherds … [they] said to them, ‘This will be a sign to you. You’ll see a baby lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes,’” Sobel recounted, noting that he believes these shepherds weren’t ordinary, everyday shepherds.
In fact, he said they were raising lambs that were to be offered as sacrifices in the temple, noting that these lambs needed to be without blemish.
So, these so-called “Levitical shepherds” would wrap up the lambs in swaddling clothes to protect them. This is, of course, noteworthy, as it shows that the swaddling would have been an important connection point for the shepherds.
“What did they see?” Sobel asked of the shepherds’ arrival at the site of Jesus’ birth. “A baby born in the same place that the Passover lambs were born, swaddled like a passover lamb, pointing to the fact that Messiah was the lamb of God who would take over the sins of the world.”