“You’re sure you didn’t see them? A man and a woman – both Jews. We believe the woman was pregnant.”
The innkeeper looked carefully at the two soldiers. They were from Herod, he was sure of it. “We’ve been full up all week – I didn't have room for transients. I would not have a pregnant woman here in any case.”
The two men looked about them suspiciously. “It has been rumored that men from the East have passed through here also. Do you know where they went?”
“Why do you ask these questions? I run an honest inn here. I do not permit women to stay, I allow no trafficking in stolen goods either. If you care to search the premises I will not stand in your way.” The innkeeper smiled to himself, realizing that these men would not wait for his permission if they wanted to search the inn, but they were much to lazy to be bothered. ‘Men from the East’ indeed. They must be looking for the Palestinians.
“Yes, there were three men. They carried spices bound for Egypt. They tied up here just after dark and had something to eat, then they moved on.”
“Did they mention a star?” the tall one asked.
“Of course. Everyone has mentioned the star. You must have seen it yourself – it seemed to hang directly over the city. Some say they have seen Angels – predicting a new king.” Emboldened now, he stared at the tall man. “Herod will not like to hear that, will he?”
Both men pulled back their hoods, and just as the innkeeper thought, they wore helmets with the seal of King Herod. “I meant no offense, you understand,” the innkeeper said.
“We bear orders with the King’s seal. All infants are to be destroyed, along with those who harbor them. I have just nailed the proclamation to your door, innkeeper. Perhaps now you might remember a man and his wife, more than likely pregnant – or with a new born – perhaps looking for a place to stay?”
“What a beastly thing to do,” the innkeeper thought. The rumors must be true, then. “No,” he said aloud. “There was no one here, just the men from the East. They left hours ago. You can look for yourself.”
The man and the wife had a good two hours start ... half way to Egypt by now. By morning they would be outside the jurisdiction of Herod, and then ... who knows. Miracles can happen.