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Posts Tagged ‘Bethlehem’

Of all the Biblical places, I think Bethlehem was the image that I had most clear in my mind before visiting the Holy Land. After all, every Christmas, we would sing, “O Little Town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie . . . Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light . . .” that wonderful hymn written by Phillip Brooks. In my mind’s eye, it was always dark with the moon shining down on it, buildings grey shadows against a blue-black sky. I would imagine that scene or similar ones as I practiced the song on the piano in the second grade and later as I listened to Christmas albums on the record player at home before Christmas. If there was a biblical place I thought I understood, it was Bethlehem.

But Bethlehem is so much more than that Christmas hymn. It is not Phillip’s fault that we are stuck with that imagery. Rather, we are woefully uninformed about the land of the Bible. I am including some photos of Bethlehem and surrounding regions, so you can get the feel for the geography there. It is a land of rolling rocky hills and ancient caves, of shepherds still today minding their sheep, alone out in fields and pastures largely untouched by time, weather and war. The hills of Bethlehem today are not that different from what they would have been in the days of Mary and Joseph–and Messiah Yeshua.

Bethlehem region
Bethlehem region
Bethlehem region – view from Herodian
Bethlehem region
Bethlehem field

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Bethlehem is a city with well-documented Biblical history. It is not only the birthplace of Jesus Christ, but it was also the home town of King David and the hometown of Naomi, who returned with her daughter-in-love, Ruth, who later married Boaz, another Bethlehem native.

Bethlehem and the surrounding areas were also very strategically located. Given its location and proximity to Jerusalem and Jericho, Bethlehem attracted the attention of master builder, Herod the Great.

In another post we’ll take a look at the magnificent palace he built nearby and which bore his name, but for now, we will consider the Pools of Solomon, another building project likely initiated or completed by Herod the Great.

This series of 3 pools has nothing to do with King Solomon but everything to do with moving water from the generous springs of Bethlehem via aqueduct to fill the pools of Herod’s palaces around the area including the palace in Jerusalem.

Solomon’s Pools (upper), Bethlehem
Solomon’s Poos (lower), Bethlehem
Solomon’s Pools (lower), Bethlehem

As a testament to his architectural prowess, the pools are largely intact today.

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When?

It is common to run into the non-believer who would point out that Jesus wasn’t really born in December. That is true–He was not. It is much more likely that He was born in a warmer part of the year, perhaps late Spring. The celebration of the birth of Christ is not based on remembering the day that He was born, but rather that He was born. That God was born a man is something certainly worth celebrating no matter when the day falls.

In this portion of our study, we will look at what the Bible says about when Jesus was born.

1. According to Luke 2:1-6, when was Jesus born?

2. What does Galatians 4:4-5 add to this?

Below see pictures of Bethlehem and the surrounding area I took in 2014 when I visited. Today Bethlehem lies in an area occupied by the Arabs. I imagine the hills where the sheep graze are still much as they were 2000 years ago. As I looked towards Bethlehem in the distance, a shepherd led his flock of sheep up a nearby hill.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He died on a hill not far away. He was buried, but He rose again, death could not hold him. The tomb is empty.

 

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