“But you O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me on who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old from ancient of days.” (Micah 5:2, ESV)
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. (Philips Brooks, 1867)
What do you think of when you hear the name Bethlehem? Most think of the little town where Jesus and Mary traveled in order to register in accordance with the order of Caesar Augustus. Every Christ-mas season we hear this song played repeatedly in stores or on TV. Of course our church choirs and soloists stir wonderful memories within our breasts as we hear them sing the soul stirring words, "O little town of Bethlehem...
What do you know of Bethlehem?
Bet lehem in the Hebrew language means “house of bread.” It was a small town located on the edge of the Judean desert approximately five (5) miles from Jerusalem. It sits at about twenty five hundred (2500) feet elevation. Bethlehem actually sits on a rocky spur of a mountain side just off of the main road to either Hebron or Egypt.
Bethlehem has a mild Mediterranean climate. The average rainfall is approximately 18 inches per year. When you compare that to the average rainfall here in Longview, WA which is approximately 45 inches it seems like a desert. Bethlehem has a very mild climate; it averages 73 degrees in the summer and 57 in the winter. Compare that to an across the board temperature of 51 degrees, mid 80’s in the summer and mid 30’s in the winter here in Longview, this seems like a paradise. Due to the climate Bethlehem is surrounded by very fertile fields of fig and olive orchards and vineyards.
Old Testament Facts:
- Salma, who was the son of Caleb is said to be the father of Bethlehem
- Rachael was buried at Bethlehem
- Boaz and Ruth play out their love story in Bethlehem
- King Solomon, son of King David took time to fortify Bethlehem guarding the approach to Jerusalem
- Jesse, the father of King David is listed as being from Bethlehem
- Bethlehem was were the mighty men of David snuck through the defensive lines of the Philistines to get water from the well located there when they heard David muse how he would love to drink of that water
- Christ, the Messiah was born in Bethlehem according to prophecy
New Testament Facts:
- Bethlehem was the birthplace of Jesus
- Location where Herod massacred the male children who were two (2) years or younger
- The angels appeared to the shepherds who were tending sheep in the desert giving them the glad tidings that the Messiah had been born
- Bethlehem has become a city of international flavor
- Jews were prohibited from living in the city
- Bethlehem’s modern name is now Beit Lahm (House of Meat)