Sir Charles! It is wonderful that you still let an unbeliever like me still contribute! For that, I salute you!
But, with Bethlehem, you enter the tenious world of David! It is or was said that David conquered but a part of the "Holy City" which was called Jerusalem! This part of his conquest was called "The City of David!" And, in today's archaeological research, it is the "new frontier" of Israell's new archaeology! So, to speak!
But, when Jesus is said to have to go to the home of his father?, who had in actuallly have been considered as Joseph, then the family, or at least Joeseph and Mary, took a trip to a place now known as Bethelhem! Which, was fortunately, also known as the origin of David, at least that is what is presumed!
But, since Jesus is connected to King David, by both his mother's lineage, as well as his earthly father or step-father, then both of them are seen to claim lineage to David, and, as a result, they both would have to come or return to the city of their births, to be taxed!
But! Suppose that in reality, the "City of David" really referred to that part of Jerusalem that David first took during the invasion?
It has already been theorized by certain experts in the field, that the city where Jesus was raised, (that has been called "Nazereth!", has only been a theory, and not really proven by science!
Thus, taking this into account, we must realize that to denote Jesus as a son of some carpenter (maybe more likely a stone cutter or finisher) from some obscure town now called Nazereth, is nothing but a misreptrentation of the real identiy of Jesus and his Earthly family as really representing Jesus as merely being a member of the mostly obscure sect known to us today as the Nazerenes or Nazarites!
And, if Jesus and his family were really just members of a sect called Nazarites or Nazerenes, etc., then there is no sure place they might have lived relative to the "City of David!" Thus, if Joseph was the only one for which the census regulations applied, then no one knows just how far he (and his pregant wife) had to travel!
Even then, a lot of scholarly work has assumed that he and is wife, had to stay in the basement of the home of his father's family! And, in this condition, the word "Inn" seems to have no connection, since Joseph, unless he had been excommunicated from his own family, should have had a place reserved with his family! And, in reality, we do not know if he and Mary had to travel thru the land of the Samaritians to arrive at Jerusalem, or just a few miles away at the settlement, or community of the Nazareans or Nazerites!
With this confused problem, found in the NT, solved, then we have other things to consider?
And, If "the birthright of Joseph" applied to Joseph the father of Jesus / Joshua, then we have another connection! Please note that Islam states that these personages were related by but a degree or so!
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.