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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Bethlehem (bĕth'le-hem), house of bread. 1. A town in the "hill-country," about six miles south of Jerusalem, situated on a narrow ridge running eastward, which breaks down in abrupt terraced slopes to the deep valleys below. The town is 2527 feet above the sea. It is one of the oldest in Palestine. Nearby was Rachel's burial-place (still marked by a white mosque near the town), and called Ephrath, Genesis 35:19; the home of Naomi, Boaz, and Ruth, Ruth 1:19; birthplace of David, 1 Samuel 17:12; burial-place of Joab's family, 2 Samuel 2:32; taken by the Philistines, and had a noted well, 2 Samuel 23:14-15; fortified by Rehoboam, 2 Chronicles 11:6; foretold as the birthplace of Christ, Micah 5:2; the birthplace of Jesus, Matthew 2:1; was visited by the shepherds, Luke 2:15-17, and by the Magi, Matthew 2:1-23. It is noticed over 40 times in the Bible. It has existed as a town for over 4000 years. It was a small place until after the time of Christ; was improved and its wall rebuilt by Justinian; now has about 5000 inhabitants, nearly all nominally Christians, mostly of the Greek church. It Is now called Beit-lahm. It is surrounded by nicely-kept terraces covered with vine, olive, and fig trees. The church of the Nativity, the oldest in Christendom, built in a.d. 330 by the empress Helena, stands over the grotto reputed to be the place of our Lord's birth, and is the joint property of the Greeks, Latins, and Armenians, who have separate convents adjoining it. The "plain of the Shepherds" is about a mile from the town.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Bethlehem'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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