Most Bible readers cannot understand why he, who is portrayed as fully God and fully man, would be born in such a small city of Bethlehem. In all his glory, why did Jesus choose to humble himself and not only be born in Bethlehem but be laid in a manger after his birth? Most bible readers are thus left wondering why Bethlehem was that important. Why was Jesus born in Bethlehem?
Jesus was born in Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecy of the birthplace of the Messiah. In the book of Micah 5:2, Micah prophesized that the Messiah would be born in the town of Bethlehem. Therefore, the birthplace of Jesus had been predetermined, and it had to happen in Bethlehem. Furthermore, Bethlehem was previously referred to in the Bible as the “City of David,” and thus, it fulfills the prophecy that the Messiah will come from the lineage of David.
So, what is the history of Bethlehem in the Bible? How does the bible prophecy the town of Bethlehem? What was the significance of Bethlehem in the Bible? Why was it important that Jesus come from Bethlehem? Was Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem a coincidence? Continue reading to get the answers to these questions and more.
What is the history of Bethlehem in the Bible?
Bethlehem means “house of bread.” Bethlehem is first mentioned in the Bible as Rachel’s burial place (Genesis 35:19). Over the years, it came to be known as the city of David as it was the birth town of David and where he was anointed by Prophet Samuel.
Furthermore, Benjamin, who was the last son of Jacob and the brother of Joseph, was also born in Bethlehem. Another person in the Bible whose history is tied to Bethlehem was Ruth (though it was short and moving. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, lived in the small town of Bethlehem. Also, the family of Caleb (one of Moses’ spies) settled in Bethlehem.
The little town of Bethlehem also produced Israel’s most enduring hero, David. David is referred to in the Bible as the “man after God’s own heart.” King David has the most heroic record among all other Kings in Israel, including killing Goliath.
How does the bible prophecy the town of Bethlehem?
The prophecy of the town of Bethlehem is among the greatest accurate prediction of all time. The Bible says in Micah 5:2, “You, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.”
As mentioned above, the name Bethlehem meant “the house of bread.” On the other hand, Ephrathah means “fruitfulness.” Later on, the Messiah, whose prophecy was written in the book of Micah, reminds us in the gospel of john 15:8, “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples.”
What was the significance of Bethlehem in the Bible?
The main relevance of Bethlehem in the Bible is its relationship with the Messiah (Jesus Christ). This city is so important because it fulfilled what Micah had prophesized in the book of Micah 5:2. The fulfillment of this prophecy is recorded in the gospels of Mathew and Luke, where they both agree that Jesus was born in the humble village of Bethlehem.
Additionally, the Old Testament records Bethlehem as David’s birthplace, and it came to be referred to as “the city of David.” Later it served as a fort and strategic place under the leadership of king Rehoboam. Additionally, the city is also connected with Babylonian exile as some of the captives stayed near the town on their way to Egypt (Jeremiah 41:17, Ezra 2:21). Bethlehem has a lot of significance in the Bible. Still, Christ coming from that city is the greatest of them all.
Why was it important that Jesus come from Bethlehem?
As mentioned above, the main reason for Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was to fulfill Micah’s prophecy about the Messiah being born in the city of David (Micah 5:2). Additionally, it was important for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecy of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 31:5 reads, “Thus says the Lord, a voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted by her children because they are no more.” The gospel of Mathew 2:16-18 records Herod’s order for male babies under the age of two to be killed, those who are in Bethlehem and its surroundings.
Therefore, though Bethlehem was diminished and looked down upon, it was an important city so that the prophecies of the Old Testament could be fulfilled and God’s promise that the Messiah would come from David’s descendants come to pass. Luke 2:4 records Joseph, who was the father of Jesus as a descendant of David.
Was Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem a coincidence?
Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was not a coincidence as it had been predetermined in prophecies. The prophet Micah prophecies a ruler being born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). It was also by design that the emperor Augustus had called a census for all Jews (Luke 2:1-3). This forced Mary and Joseph to journey to Bethlehem, the hometown of Joseph. Despite Mary being pregnant, the journey took place.
Therefore, there is no way that Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was a coincidence. Though it might appear as so because of the order by Caesar that required everyone to go for the census when Jesus was almost due, theologians believe that all this was by design. One way or the other, Bethlehem was supposed to produce the coming Messiah for God’s promises and prophecies to be fulfilled.
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.