A drama that focuses on the period in Mary and Joseph’s life where they journeyed to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.
The plot begins with the portrayal of the Massacre of the Innocents in the Nativity. The remainder of the movie portrays the annunciation (conception) and birth of Jesus Christ to explain why King Herod the Great (Ciarán Hinds) ordered the murder.
One year before the massacre, Zachariah (Stanley Townsend), a rabbi in Jerusalem, is making an offering, when he is told in a vision by the Archangel Gabriel that his wife, Elizabeth (Shohreh Aghdashloo), will bear a son.
Zachariah does not believe him, stating that he is too old, and Gabriel tells him that he will be unable to speak until the boy is born. In Nazareth, a teenaged girl named Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) is farming when soldiers come to collect taxes. One man, unable to pay, has a third of his land seized and his daughter pressed into debt slavery.
Mary, betrothed to marry Joseph of Judaea (Oscar Isaac), is visited by Archangel Gabriel and told that she will become pregnant with God’s son, whom she is to name “Jesus”. He tells her that God has blessed her cousin Elizabeth with a child despite her old age. Mary visits her before the harvest, where she witnesses the birth of John the Baptist to Elizabeth and Zechariah, who regains his speech. Mary returns from the visit pregnant, to the shock of Joseph and her parents, who fear that Joseph will accuse her of fornication, a sin punishable with death by stoning according to the Mosaic Law.
At first Joseph does not believe Mary’s religious explanation, but decides not to accuse her. Still shocked and angry, Joseph is later visited in a dream by the Archangel Gabriel, who tells him of God’s plan for Mary’s son. Finally believing, he is ashamed of his earlier doubts.
Meanwhile, Roman emperor Caesar Augustus has demanded that every man and his family across the Roman Empire return to his place of birth for the census. A direct descendant of King David, Joseph is forced to travel 110 kilometers (68 mi) across Palestine’s rocky terrain from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the place of his birth. With Mary on a donkey laden with supplies, it takes the couple nearly four weeks to reach Bethlehem. Upon arriving in town, Mary goes into labour, and Joseph frantically seeks a place for her to deliver. There is, however, no room in any inn or home partly because of the census, but at the last minute an innkeeper offers his stable for shelter.
Cast: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Oscar Isaac, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Director: Catherine Hardwicke