GENESIS 48:7, 35:20; MATTHEW 2:18;
1 SAMUEL 16:1, 17:12, 20:6; 2 SAMUEL 23:14-15
Bethlehem had already been a place of history for God’s people for the preceding 2000 years before Jesus was even born. In Genesis, we see Rachel, the wife of Abraham’s grandson Jacob, die in the fields of Bethlehem while in childbirth. Jacob set up a memorial stone by her grave that can still be seen today. Later, Ruth—King David’s great-grandmother, was married in Bethlehem to a man named Boaz, the Kinsman-redeemer of her mother-in-law’s family. We have already learned that King David’s childhood home was also in Bethlehem. Later when David was being hunted by Saul in the barren hills of the Judean desert, David longs for the water of Bethlehem, and his three best men risked their lives to bring it to him. In the New Testament, when King Herod is threatened by the prophecy of the newborn king, he ordered all the male children who had been born in and around the village of Bethlehem and who were two years old and younger—to be killed. Rachel’s name appeared again in Scripture, representing all the mothers of Bethlehem who were weeping over the loss of their children and refused to be comforted.
Bethlehem has always been connected with Israel’s history and with the line of King David, from which Jesus was prophesied to come. Bethlehem’s greatest moment was foretold in Micah; that from Bethlehem the Jews will see their Messiah’s birth. Although we have pictured the birth scene in a stable, it was probably a cave as the houses in Bethlehem were built on the slopes of a limestone ridge with many cave-like stables hollowed out under the houses in the rock. Whether in a stable or a cave, God’s Holy Scriptures prove themselves to be true over a time period of 2000 years.