04 – Mary visits Elizabeth

When: July,6 BC
Where: Judean hill country

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In mid-July of 6 BC, Mary was leaving Nazareth and traveling south to visit her relative Elizabeth in the hill country of Judah and then to stay with Joseph’s parents for the remainder of the pregnancy and delivery.

Mary’s visit would serve several purposes. It would minimize the “talk” that was bound to happen in the small village when the timing of the conception was established. Joseph did not want to be accused of having had sex with her before they were married.

Mary could also confirm the angel’s message that Elizabeth was pregnant and check on Elizabeth’s health, if she was.

And finally Mary would have the companionship of someone who was also being moved by the Holy Spirit.

Packing quickly for their “honeymoon”, Joseph arranged for the transportation south. They would join a traveling group in Capernaum, 23 miles east of Nazareth, beside the Sea of Galilee, then make the 100-mile Jordan Valley route from Capernaum to Jerusalem in five or six days, while avoiding Samaria. They would travel past Jerusalem to get to the home of Zecharias and Elizabeth, who lived southwest of Jerusalem, about four miles, in a village called ain Karim, which means “spring in the vineyard”.

When Mary entered the house of Zecharias and Elizabeth, she greeted Elizabeth, saying “Shalom (peace)”. At the sound of Mary’s voice, Elizabeth’s six-month-old fetus kicked hard, taking Elizabeth’s breath away. Her gasp gave the two women the subject to begin a long talk.

Joseph left Mary at ain Karim and traveled back to Bethlehem.

During their time together, there can be little doubt that Elizabeth asked Mary why she was visiting. Mary gave Elizabeth a full explanation of the angel’s appearance, Joseph’s dream and her pregnancy.

Then Mary asked Elizabeth about her pregnancy. Elizabeth explained what had happened to Zecharias (he was literate and could write). Elizabeth then had an unusual response. ‘Now I understand why John, the name we will give our son, kicked when he heard your voice. He recognized the Holy Spirit in you.’

Elizabeth, after hearing the full explanation, was amazed by Mary’s willingness to agree to carry this baby and concluded by stating how much she admired Mary for agreeing to do the Lord’s will. Elizabeth and Mary could not help but express the awe that each felt when they considered that both of them, just regular folk, had been chosen to be part of God’s plan and not the rich, the religious leaders, or the royal family. This is just what had happened to Hannah when she found herself pregnant with Samuel.

Mary left in late September, just before the early rains began, to go to Bethlehem to live with Joseph’s folks, even though it meant leaving before Elizabeth went into labor and had her baby.


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