Skip to content
Home » Bethlehem In The Bible

Bethlehem In The Bible

Nestled among the rolling hills of ancient Judea lies Bethlehem, a town steeped in rich history, significance, and spiritual resonance. Known as the birthplace of King David and hailed in Christian tradition as the birth site of Jesus Christ, Bethlehem holds a central place in the biblical narrative. Let’s embark on a journey to explore the profound significance of Bethlehem in the scriptures.

Churchgists is always committed to offering you all the details you need on Bethlehem In The Bible, Unveiling Bethlehem: A Sacred Place in Biblical History, 6 FUN FACTS ABOUT BETHLEHEM, PA THAT YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW, I trust that when you done with this article you will be well grounded on this subject matter.


What is the Meaning of Bethlehem?

Although the city itself is not widely accessible to Israelis today, Bethlehem has always held a special place in the history of the Jewish people. The city of Bethlethem means more to Israel than many realize today.

Bethlehem’s Significance in the Old Testament

Rachel, wife of Jacob, was buried in Bethlehem. God raised up judges from there. Boaz was from Bethlehem and welcomed in Ruth, a Gentile, into his Jewish family. Israel’s greatest king, David, shepherded sheep in its fields.

And most significantly, the Messiah was prophesied to come from this small village:

As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. Micah 5:2

What does Bethlehem mean to Israel?

That Bible passage shows a remarkable amount of influence coming from such a small town. It practically sits in the shadow of Jerusalem, just 5+ miles away. Bethlehem is so close to Jerusalem that on clear days you can see the hills of Bethlehem from atop the Mount of Olives.

Modern-day archaeological discoveries confirm Bethlehem was a city in the Kingdom of Judah. A clay seal found in the City of David (archeological dig in Jerusalem) reads in ancient Hebrew script: “From the town of Bethlehem to the King.” It is dated to be from the 8th or 7th century BCE.  

Today, Bethlehem is predominantly Muslim, although there is a small yet significant Christian minority. Her economy is tourist-driven, especially around the Christmas season. Church of the Nativity is a common pilgrimage destination.

The Meaning of the Word Bethlehem

In Hebrew, the city’s name is pronounced “Beit-lehem.” “Beit” means house and “Lechem” means bread – together being “House of Bread”. Jesus said at one point, I am the bread of life” (John 6:35;48) and “I am the manna that came down out of heaven… (John 6:51).

He later broke bread and gave to his disciples, saying: Take, eat; this is My body.” (Matt 26:26). Throughout the Bible, bread carries great literal and symbolic significance.

And why is the “house of bread” (Bethlehem) significant also? In this small town Gentiles were married into the Jewish nation (by the example of Ruth and Boaz), and where the Jewish king and “bread of life” was born for the world to hunger no more. That’s something to chew on for a while.

Jesus Followers in Bethlehem

While many think of Bethlehem at this time of year by singing “away in a manger” or “silent night”, our brothers and sisters in the Lord continue to struggle there year round.

Since the Oslo Accords in the mid 90s, when Israel gave certain areas (including Bethlehem) in Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority, no Jews are allowed to live there and often even visit.

Under the Palestinian Authority the Christian population has shrunk from 80% to single digits, some say as low as 3%.

A Different Reality from the Biblical One

The town was known for bringing Jew and Gentile together, for starting the Davidic royal dynasty and the prophesied birthplace of the righteous ruler. But now, it is becoming known for hardship and exodus for those that follow Him.

Arab Christians in Bethlehem Today

Arab Christians living in the area experience discrimination and persecution from their community, for being Christians and not Muslims. Some feel overlooked by western Christian groups visiting the land, as they are reconnecting to their Jewish roots.

Regardless of theological and political differences, the fact remains that these are followers of Jesus. Fortunately, there has been some hope.

In the last couple years, a couple grassroots organizations are getting involved with the needs on the ground. Organizations like the Bethlehem Project seek to foster small business development and leadership training for the struggling Christian population in the House of Bread.

The streets of Bethlehem

Christmas in Bethlehem Today

Another organization worth noting is Blessing Bethlehem. It is spearheaded by Orthodox Jews together with Arab Christians and western Christians. Together, they serve the poor and needy in Bethlehem and surrounding regions.

They do so by providing food for hundreds of families, especially in this coming Christmas season. Despite the hardships and difficulties, God is still doing amazing things in this region and there is even more to look forward to.

And let’s not forget the evangelical churches that refuse to give up. Bethlehem is home also to these born-again believers who have faith that their hometown will once again belong to the rulership of their Jewish Messiah. 

A Hopeful Promise

In Isaiah 60, after reading how nations will come to the light of a restored Israel and the nations will bring back the Jewish sons and daughters along with the wealth of the nations, we arrive at verse 6:

“All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered together to you, the rams of Nebaioth will minister to you; They will go up with acceptance on My altar, And I shall glorify My glorious house.”

Nebaioth and Kedar are the first and second born sons of Ishmael. In the light of the current climate, this is a profound promise! At the time that God is restoring the sons and daughters and the wealth of the land, He will also restore the sons of Ishmael.

Can you imagine a better way that God could “glorify His glorious house” than for Jew and Arab together in worship of the God of Israel?

Certainly, here’s a blog post about Bethlehem in the Bible:

Unveiling Bethlehem: A Sacred Place in Biblical History

1. Bethlehem – The Birthplace of Kings:

Revered for its association with the great King David, Bethlehem holds a place of prominence in the Old Testament. David, the shepherd boy turned king, hailed from this humble town, marking its significance as the birthplace of a ruler chosen by God.

2. The Prophecy Fulfilled – Birth of Jesus:

The Gospel narratives of Matthew and Luke establish Bethlehem as the prophesied birthplace of Jesus Christ. The humble manger, the starlit night, and the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem symbolize God’s fulfillment of ancient prophecies and His entrance into the world.

3. Spiritual Significance – A Beacon of Hope:

Bethlehem’s significance extends beyond historical lineage. It embodies hope, humility, and the divine promise of salvation. The birth of Jesus in this humble town signifies God’s willingness to dwell among humanity, offering redemption and eternal grace.

4. Bethlehem Today – A Pilgrimage Destination:

In contemporary times, Bethlehem continues to draw pilgrims and visitors worldwide seeking to walk in the footsteps of biblical history. The Church of the Nativity, built over the traditional birthplace of Jesus, remains a focal point for spiritual devotion and reflection.

RACEWAY CHEVROLET

6 FUN FACTS ABOUT BETHLEHEM, PA THAT YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW

Bethlehem, PA, is shown from above at night.

The quiet and peaceful city of Bethlehem, PA, located in the eastern part of the state, sits along the banks of the Lehigh River. Its neighborhoods are beautiful and varied, with plenty of amazing sights and treasured buildings that sit on the National Register of Historic Places. The town has a storied history steeped in American industry and ingenuity. However, many people do not realize how much history is held in the town. In fact, many residents aren’t even aware of just how colorful and rich its history really is.

You may live in the Lehigh Valley and have a general idea, but did you know that the historic city of Bethlehem played a part in the American Revolution? Or that it was home to one of the most important industrial inventions in modern history? This charming city of 80,000 is a living, breathing hub of important American history, industrial milestones, and early community-building. You’d be surprised at some of the fun facts we at Raceway Chevy have uncovered about this amazing city; let’s take a look!

#1 Bethlehem is Known as “Christmas City”

Why is the town known for Christmas? It’s simple! Bethlehem was given its name on Christmas Eve. Since then, the city has always been synonymous with Christmas! Bethlehem hosts a Christkindlmarkt Festival at SteelStacks, which is at 101 Founders Way, every year, bringing seasonal food, hundreds of vendors selling Christmas crafts and treasures, and all things Christmas to the city.

There are even ice carving and glassblowing demonstrations. In fact, Travel + Leisure Magazine has twice named Christkindlmarkt, one of the best holiday markets. There is live holiday music and, of course, Ole’ Saint Nick himself makes an appearance. It’s a must-see annual event that celebrates the most wonderful time of year in a city that was named for it.

Fireworks are shown behind the steel stacks in Bethlehem at night.

#2 Bethlehem Was Named in 1741

The city was founded and named in 1741, but for what purpose? Count Zinzendorf was a German Moravian Missionary intent on finding a place to settle in the colony of Pennsylvania. This group of missionaries began building their historic city on 500 acres along the Lehigh River in order to settle permanently and preach to local Native American tribes. History has been preserved so carefully over the years that the second structure ever built still stands at 66 West Church Street. It is now known as the 1741 Gemeinhaus and currently houses the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, which is a place you should consider visiting.

#3 Bethlehem Was Settled by Missionaries

Bethlehem is steeped in Moravian tradition. This group of missionaries originated in Germany, and in fact, German was the primary language spoken in Bethlehem. However, the community attracted missionaries from all over Europe, and at one time, over 15 languages were spoken here.

Bethlehem became the North American hub for the Moravians, and it was from this central place that missionaries were sent to colonies across the newly forming country. Moravians were pacifists and believed in a self-sufficient, communal way of life that supported its members from birth until death. While Moravians focused on their way of life, they also tangled with local unrest, and the city was host to many important events during wartime in the early days of the settlers. And in modern-day Bethlehem, you can get a glimpse of how they lived by taking a simple stroll through the Historic Moravian Bethlehem, a district located on Church Street, Market Street, and Main Street.

#4 Bethlehem Played a Part in the American Revolution

While Moravians were indeed pacifists, they played an essential role during the American Revolution, providing hides and other supplies to the cause and even sheltering soldiers during wartime. Several British soldiers were imprisoned within the city limits during the war as well. In fact, George Washington ordered his medical officers to command a large building in Bethlehem, which they converted into an ad hoc military hospital for wounded soldiers.

The building still stands today and can be visited on the campus of Moravian College at 1200 Main Street. It is believed that nearly 500 Continental Army soldiers are buried within the Bethlehem city limits. Archaeologists have successfully uncovered the remains of a few soldiers, and they continue their work today to protect the ground that is thought to be a burial site for these fallen early American heroes. As mentioned, the history in this little city is rich.

#5 Bethlehem Was a Steel Town

Beginning in 1857, Bethlehem began to emerge as an upstart steel manufacturing city. Steel production would soon become the cornerstone of its economy, but the effort began slowly with the formation of the Bethlehem Iron Company. Bethlehem Iron Company was formed in 1904 and, in fact, lasted through to 2003 when it ultimately went bankrupt.

Eventually, the company became Bethlehem Steel Corporation, then Bethlehem Steel Company. Interestingly, this company was run by Charles M. Schwab, a prominent businessman, and financier. Under his leadership, Bethlehem Steel became the second-largest steelmaker in the country. In addition to steel, the city housed tanneries, blacksmiths, and other forms of industry. The industries were booming in Bethlehem back in the day, and you can learn more about them by taking a visit to the National Museum of Industrial History at 602 E 2nd Street.

Steel stacks in Bethlehem, PA, are shown in black and white.

#6 Bethlehem Was the Site of the First-Ever Waterworks Structure

A man by the name of Hans Christoph Christensen designed and built the very first structure that could move water and create a continuous water source for a community. His first attempt was rife with challenges and setbacks, but eventually, in 1762, he built a limestone Waterworks that stands to this day in the heart of Bethlehem, right on Main Street.

The waterworks structure was critical to society evolving in the city limits. The convenience of readily available water affected every part of the community, from quality of life to the way the steel making business grew and expanded. The waterworks’ pump-based system was the first of its kind in the United States, making Bethlehem an even more important part of the country’s history.

Conclusion:

Bethlehem, a town with a humble origin and grand spiritual significance, transcends geographical boundaries, echoing with the timeless message of hope, salvation, and divine intervention. Its legacy, intricately woven into the biblical tapestry, invites believers to ponder the marvels of God’s providence and grace, making it an enduring symbol of faith and promise for generations past, present, and future.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *