Chapter 21 - A Disappointing Surprise
After Mary and Joseph disappeared into the crowd, Daniel gathered with Esther and Rebekah to make plans for the rest of the day. His brothers had most likely arrived in Bethlehem by this time, and they had said that they would arrange for lodging. Daniel asked Esther to take Rebekah and connect with their other family members while he would take the cart full of goods to the market area to trade. Rebekah scooped up Imhotep, fearing that her cat would easily get lost in the crowds if left to move about on his own. Imhotep squirmed a bit at first, but as the noise of the crowds increased, he seemed to settle in. The trio went from building to building, until they finally met up with the rest of their family from Nain, who had arrived two days earlier.
“It’s great to see you all!” Esther said to her family members gathered in the packed courtyard outside of a small inn. “The journey took us a little longer than we thought. Our donkey was quite stubborn in the early days of the trip, slowing us down considerably.”
“We’re just glad you arrived safely,” Daniel's father said. “We were starting to worry. Where is Daniel?”
“I think you know where he is,” Esther replied with a smirk.
“At the market,” they said in unison, laughing merrily.
“My youngest son can’t resist the opportunity to strike up a deal when given the chance,” Daniel’s father added. Anyway, I’m afraid I have some disappointing news. There is no room left in this inn. When we arrived, there was only one room left, and we were fortunate to be able to rent it. We’ve packed ourselves tightly into it, but we still don’t have enough room. Daniel’s brothers have been sleeping out in the streets, saving the room for the women and children.”
Esther was saddened to hear this, but based on the number of people she saw in the streets, it didn’t come as a complete surprise. “I understand,” she said. “Rebekah and I will go back to the market and share the news with Daniel. I’m sure that God will provide a place for us to stay. Perhaps Daniel can make a trade for a room in exchange for some of the oil we brought with us.” She hugged her father-in-law, and then placed her arm around Rebekah as they turned and headed back into the sea of people.
“Where will we stay tonight, mother?” Rebekah asked.
“I don’t know Rebekah, but I’m confident your father will figure out something. I just hope that Mary and Joseph are able to find a bed for the night,” Esther replied. Her brow furrowed at the thought of Mary being so close to her time of giving birth, and unexpectedly having to spend the night outside in the street. “Let’s go find your father and see what he thinks about our situation.” They walked through the crowd, heading back toward the market area, where Daniel was deep in conversation. As Rebekah and Esther drew closer, they saw that Daniel was talking with a few men who appeared to be shepherds. Each of them grasped a staff, a long stick with a curved end to it. She approached her husband, preparing to share the news of their lack of lodging for the night ahead.
Next: A Place to Sleep