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Bethlehem Fact File

Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Early Christians were of the belief that a cave just east of the village was the actual place where He was born. A field southeast of the town has been identified as the place where the shepherds had the vision of the angels (Luke 2:8-14).

It is located about 5 miles (8 kilometers) southwest of Jerusalem, 2,550 feet (777 meters - the same as Jerusalem) above sea level, in the hill country of Israel near the main route between Jerusalem and Hebron.

The population today is approximately 16,000.

The birthplace of Jesus Christ

In Hebrew, Bethlehem means house of bread. In Arabic, its name Bayta lahm, means house of meat.

The events of the Book of Ruth took place there, causing King David to be born there, from which it has been called the "City of David." See Bethlehem

Rachel, mother of three of the tribes of Israel, Ephraim and Manasseh (the sons of Joseph) and Benjamin, is buried nearby.

Many conquerers, including Greeks, Romans and Muslims ruled it at various times through history. See Bible History. The Crusaders captured it during the First Crusade (1096-1099), but later lost it to the Ottomans (Turks) in the 1500's. During The First World War, British forces under General Edmund Allenby took the town. It became part of Jordan in 1950, as part of the West Bank. Israel captured much of the area, including Bethlehem, during the Six-Day War of 1967 (a war that Israel did not start, and did not lose). In 1995, Israel withdrew from Bethlehem and gave control to Palestinians.

Fact Finder: How is it that Joseph and Mary happened to be in Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ?
Luke 2:1-7

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