Bethlehem is widely known because of its relevance in the Bible, the birthplace of Jesus. However, Bethlehem’s history is deeper than the location where the Messiah was born. It can be associated with the history of Israel, Jacob, Ruth, Rachel, and King David, a man who was described to be after God’s own heart. Therefore, it is a great town, and many heroes in the Bible have their roots there. However, how big was it at that time? How big was Bethlehem when Jesus was born?
The Bible is clear that Bethlehem was a small town during the period when Jesus was born; in fact, it was despised. In the book of Micah 5:2, the prophecy about the birthplace of Jesus clearly indicates that Bethlehem was the smallest town in Judah. Therefore, Bethlehem was quite a small village when Jesus was born.
So, was Bethlehem a small town when Jesus was born? How many square meters was Bethlehem? What was the population of Bethlehem when Jesus was born? Who inhabited Bethlehem when Jesus was born? Has Bethlehem developed now compared to when Jesus was born? Is Bethlehem still a small town today? Continue reading to get information and answers to these questions and more.
Was Bethlehem a small town when Jesus was born?
The Bible is clear that Bethlehem was, in fact, among the smallest villages during the birth of Jesus. Mathew 2:6 reads, “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” The words of Mathew are actually a fulfillment of a prophecy written by Micah on the birthplace of Jesus.
Jesus was born in a humble town that no one expected. God could have easily made it that he was born in Jerusalem, formerly referred to as a holy city. But he chose the small village of Bethlehem, which was despised and quiet, and embodied humility. Some people even conclude that Bethlehem was so small hence why all houses were full and Mary had to lay baby Jesus in a manger after his birth.
How many square meters was Bethlehem?
There is no exact estimation in terms of square meters of how big Bethlehem was during the birth of Jesus. The Bible and historical scholars agree that Bethlehem was quite a small village. However, people have various estimations of how big the birthplace of Jesu was. Most not that the city was 762 square meters. Bethlehem was located eight kilometers the South of Jerusalem.
What was the population of Bethlehem when Jesus was born?
The historical study of Bethlehem during the time when Jesus was born estimates that the town had only around 2000 to 3000 people. According to Bible scholar father Jerome and Pfann, the people in the Jewish village of Bethlehem used to live in clans, and the caves that currently exist in modern Bethlehem were used to keep prized animals like donkeys and also for storage. However, nobody really knows the exact population of the village of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus. Some say it was over 10,000, but archaeologists note that such a big figure was unrealistic at that time.
Who inhabited Bethlehem when Jesus was born?
When Jesus was born, Bethlehem was a village in Judea ruled by King Herod Archelaus, whose father was King Herod the great. During the birth of Jesus, most people who inhabited the village of Bethlehem were Christians.
However, the current day Bethlehem hosts three Palestinian refugee camps, and the town is inhabited mostly by Muslims. They actually account for a third of the total population in current-day Bethlehem. These Muslims are believed to have come from the villages surrounding Bethlehem after they were displaced with the birth State of Israel.
Has Bethlehem developed now compared to when Jesus was born?
Bethlehem had developed a lot since the time when Jesus was born. Bethlehem city still bears its name Bethlehem today. It is 5 miles from Jerusalem South and is 2,550 above sea level. Furthermore, the “church of Nativity” in Bethlehem can be traced to A.D. 330 and is believed to have been built by Constantine. This building is believed to be the longest-existing Christian Church in Bethlehem and the whole world.
The church of Nativity is close to a grotto, where it is believed that the Latin father, Jerome, spent there close to 30 years of his life translating the Bible into Latin. There is also a tomb in modern Bethlehem, which is assumed to be Rachel’s tomb.
Though there are several buildings and archaeological sites that can be traced to ancient Bethlehem in modern Bethlehem, the city has really grown. It now has many shops and hotels on winding, narrow streets. Many houses have been since built in front of old caves, and it is on a hill.
Is Bethlehem still a small town today?
Bethlehem is no longer the small farming village it was during the time when Jesus was born. Its population has immensely grown to around 100,000 people from around 30,000 people during Jesus’ time. The city is also no longer the Arabic Christian stronghold that it was; the Christian population in Bethlehem has shrunk to less than 16% of the city’s total population, with many being Muslims.
The current Bethlehem is actually a tourist center, and many people visit the place because of its ties to being the birthplace of Jesus, with the Church of Nativity being a key tourist attraction. The city is now a multicultural urban center full of Palestinian shops and marketplaces.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.