The Nativity


The presence of an ox and a donkey in nativity scenes does not come from any Gospel reference, but rather from Origen in the year 220, who sees these animals as a fulfillment of Isaiah 1:3, and describes the ox as representative of the Hebrew people, and the donkey of the pagans. The apocryphal gospel of pseudo-Matthew, section XIV, follows Origen in citing Isaiah, and also adds a quote from Habakkuk 3:2, “You will make yourself known between two animals,” but this version is from from the Old Latin translation of the Greek Septuagint, which does not correspond to St. Jerome’s Vulgate or other translations from the Hebrew, which interpret no mention of animals.