This is a traditional icon of The Nativity. The early church used icons to tell the story—theology in imagery. There is so much to tell and to be seen!
For starters, notice that Joseph is off to the bottom left. This is his proper position in the Nativity icon. Think of the Gospel account – Joseph is righteous and protects Mary and Jesus, but he is not involved in the miracle of the incarnation of the Son of God.
Some angels are glorifying God, tending to the action and ministering while another angel proclaims good news to the shepherds.
The two women on the bottom right are the midwives which tradition says Joseph summoned. They are shown here to indicate that Jesus was born in the normal way and would have needed washing, as a regular human baby would.
Notice that the manger is like a casket, and Jesus’ swaddling clothes are very much like the grave clothes discovered by the women at the tomb following his resurrection.
The tree below the baby is the “Jesse Tree” from Isaiah’s prophesy, which says that a shoot will sprout from the stump (tree) of Jesse (the father of King David). The ox and the ass are also from Isaiah’s prophecy, “The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master’s crib.”
thank you for this. It adds to the Xmas experience
Gary, I pray you are having a blessed and joyous Christmas. Thank you for reading my blog and leaving a comment.
Peace be with you,