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Bethlehem Fact File
by Wayne Blank
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.