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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary

Bethlehem

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1. City of Judah, also called BETH-LEHEM-JUDAH (Judges 17:7-9 ). It is first mentioned in connection with the death and burial of Rachel. Genesis 35:19 . The history of Ruth is also connected with Beth-lehem. Ruth 1:1-22; Ruth 2:4 . David was anointed in the house of Jesse the Bethlehemite, so that apparently it was the place of David's birth, 1 Samuel 16:4; 1 Samuel 17:12,15; and this accounts for its being called in Luke 2:11 the 'city of David.' It was also the birth-place of Jesus: though it was "little among the thousands of Judah," it the better agreed with His humiliation. Beth-lehem, signifying 'house of bread,' is a very appropriate name for a place whence the Saviour should proceed as a man — He who was the living bread that came down from heaven.

Apparently it was originally called EPHRATH, Genesis 35:16,19; Genesis 48:7; and was afterwards called EPHRATAH, Ruth 4:11; Psalm 132:6 . It is once called BETH-LEHEM EPHRATAH, that is, the fruitful, for the ruler of Israel was to come from thence. Micah 5:2; Luke 2:4,15; John 7:42 . This led to the massacre of the infants by Herod. Matthew 2:16-18 .

In 1 Chronicles 2:51,54; 1 Chronicles 4:4 , 'father of Beth-lehem' may signify 'prince of Beth-lehem.' It is identified with Beit Lahm, 31 42' N, 35 12' E , situated 6 miles south of Jerusalem, on a narrow ridge which runs from the central range of hills. The ridge is cut into terraces, which are covered with olives and vines. There are now about 5,000 inhabitants, almost all called Christian, with convents for the Latins, Greeks, and Armenians. An enormous pile of buildings called the 'Church of the Nativity' is connected with the convents.

2. Town in Zebulun, mentioned only in Joshua 19:15 , also called Beit Lahm, 32 44' N, 35 10' E , described as a most miserable village. (It is not known which of the above places is referred to in Judges 12:8,10 .)

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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Bethlehem'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/mbd/b/bethlehem.html. 1897.

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