What and where is…
Hebrew: בֵּית לֶחֶם —transliteration: Bet Lehem or Bethlehem
Ancient Greek: Βηθλεέμ
also known as: Beth-lehem, Bet Lehem, Bat Lechem, Beit-Lahm
This is the name of 2 biblical cities.
Bethlehem of the Tribe of Judah
First mention in Scripture
Ruth and Naomi
Birthplace of King David
Birthplace of Christ
Bethlehem is distinguished above every other city as the birthplace of “Him whose goings forth have been of old.”
In the time of our Lord, a census was made by the Roman government (Luke 2:1). For this reason, Mary and Joseph travelled from nearby Nazareth to Bethlehem of Judah where Jesus the Messiah—God incarnate—was born.
Answers to common questions…
- See: When did the Luke 2 census occur? Is there a biblical error? Answer
- Was Jesus born in a stable? a cave? a barn? Answer
- What are some of the most common misconceptions about Jesus Christ’s birth? Answer
- …also see our special site section on CHRISTMAS
Bethlehem’s children slaughtered
Afterward, “when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi,” he his men and slew “all the male children who were in Bethlehem, and all its vicinity, from two years old and under” (Matthew 2:16, 18; Jeremiah 31:15).
Bethlehem still bears its name today. It is also known as Beit-Lahm, i.e., “house of flesh.” It is about 5 miles south of Jerusalem, standing at an elevation of about 2,550 feet above the sea, thus 100 feet higher than Jerusalem.
There is a church still existing, built by Constantine the Great (A.D. 330), called the “Church of the Nativity,” over a grotto or cave called the “holy crypt,” and said to be the “stable” in which Jesus was born. This is perhaps the oldest existing Christian church in the world.
The modern city has many hotels and small shops on narrow, winding streets. The city is built on a hill, and many houses are built in front of old caves.
Bethlehem of the Tribe of Zebulun
This Bethlehem is mentioned in Joshua 19:15…
Territory of Zebulun
Now the third lot came up for the sons of Zebulun according to their families. And the territory of their inheritance was as far as Sarid. Then their border went up to the west and to Maralah, it then touched Dabbesheth and reached to the brook that is before Jokneam. Then it turned from Sarid to the east toward the sunrise as far as the border of Chisloth-tabor, and it proceeded to Daberath and up to Japhia. From there it continued eastward toward the sunrise to Gath-hepher, to Eth-kazin, and it proceeded to Rimmon which stretches to Neah. The border circled around it on the north to Hannathon, and it ended at the valley of Iphtahel. Included also were Kattah and Nahalal and Shimron and Idalah and Bethlehem; twelve cities with their villages.
This was the inheritance of the sons of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages. —Joshua 19:10-16 NASB
It is also known as “Bethlehem of Zebulun,” “Bethlehem of Galilee,” “the Galilean Bethlehem,” and “Beth Lehem Zoria.” It eventually became a Christian community, and much later became a ruined village called Beit-Lahm. It is located about 6 miles (10 kilometers) northwest of Nazareth and is now an Israeli moshav, a community for cooperative agriculture.
- Ruth and Naomi
- The birth of Christ
- Mary, mother of Jesus
- Joseph, foster father of Jesus
- Messianic prophecies
- shepherds and sheep
- Agriculture of the Bible