MANGER (Gr. phatnē, a stall). The word was made notable by Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus. The LXX used phatnē for the Hebrew, which is given in 2Chr.32.28 as “stalls” and in the KJV of Job.39.9 as “crib” (see Prov.14.4; Isa.1.3). Luke also gives phatnē as the birthplace of Jesus. Justin Martyr wrote about a.d. 100 that the stall was in a cave adjoining an inn. The cavern was used for livestock. Since Justin lived only forty miles (sixty-seven km.) from Bethlehem, his word may be reliable. It is more probable that the stalls were arranged around a courtyard of an inn with guest rooms and balcony above. Either kind of stall would have provided privacy for Mary and the cradle of the infant Lord.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)