Two Bethlems in the Holy Land: Comment
Copyright 2019 by Joan Berry
It came to my attention lately about two communities in the Holy Land being named Bethlehem. It is not a secret by any means that both claim to be the birth place of Jesus. And just as we have cities throughout our country bearing the same name, so do other countries. The Bethlehem we are most familiar with is the one about five miles south of Jerusalem on Israel’s West Bank; the other one is located about eight miles from Nazareth and about 100 miles north from the one near Jerusalem. Bethlehem is mentioned in Joshua 19: 15 as Bethlehem of Zebulun (tribe allotted this land). In what we know as Judah, Bethlehem was formally known as Ephrath (Gen. 35: 16 and 19). Rachael gave birth to Benjamin near the Bethlehem near Nazareth where she died, but her shrine is located near Jerusalem
Argument #1: Because Jesus’ family was centered in Nazareth; many archeologists believe that he was born in the Bethlehem in Galilee. Also, the ministry of Jesus was mainly in Galilee and the Kineret (Aviram Oshri of the Israeli Antiquities Authority).
“Mary rode on top of the donkey at the end of her pregnancy – and I asked myself, what are the chances that the baby would still be alive if she rode all the way to Bethlehem in Judea ?” said Dr. Oshri. “Zero. Whereas the distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is possible.”
“If you ask me, Jesus was born in Nazareth,” said archaeologist Dr Uzi Dahari. “At that time in the Roman period, people didn’t move from place to place. All of his family is from Nazareth.”
Archaeologists also report that no archeology evidence has been found to prove that the Bethlehem in Judea was the birth place of Jesus. Where as the one in Galilee has produced finds from the time of Jesus as well as a fortified wall mentioned in ancient documents. Excavation of both Bethlehems is ongoing. (Dr Uzi Dahar).
There is an excellent report on this topic at that I highly recommend.
https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Bethlehem-Israel#mod_24867621 (scroll down to Rachael’s tomb)
Micah 5:2 “But you,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
Situated on the main highway to Egypt, it was known variously as Ephrath (Genesis 35:16), Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2), Bethlehem-Judah (1 Samuel 17:12), and “the city of David” (Luke 2:4).
A general summary is that the birth of Jesus was written in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, well past anyone living at the time of Jesus. The Matthew 2: 6 verse does not occur in Old Testament prophesies as it is presented in Matthew. As to Rachael’s tomb, only a shrine to her is located seven miles south of Jerusalem. Her tomb is located near the Bethlehem in Galilee where she died. She died too far from family burial caves near Jerusalem to be interred there. At the time of Rachel, the main highway known as the Patriarch’s Thoroughfare went through the Nazareth area. Also, in Rachael’s time, the Bethlehem in Judea did not exist. The Bethlehem of Galilee was a thriving town in the 1st century (Oshri, 2012).
Further information: The seven differences between Judea and Galilee