Friday, November 4, 2016

BETHLEHEM – By Elvin C. Myers

By Elvin C. Myers

Scripture Reading: Micah 5:2

I was born and raised in Altoona, Pennsylvania, so it  seems I should know every town, village and hamlet adjacent  to the city. I don't. I sometimes hear of a place near the city    name is unfamiliar to me. Not many small towns  become well known, but the little town of Bethlehem is world  famous.

Bethlehem means "house of bread," perhaps because it  was farm country. It is mentioned often in the Scriptures. It  is the place where Jacob buried his beloved Rachel outside the  town limits. The romantic story of Ruth took place in  Bethlehem. Being farm country, we know the people were    and grain farmers. It was the home of Jesse, the  father of David. It was in Bethlehem that Samuel anointed  David king ofIsrael.

When King Solomon died, a struggle ensued for the  vacant throne. The rightful heir to the throne was Rehoboam,  but he was challenged by Jeroboam who had no right to the  throne. The struggle resulted in Israel being divided into two  kingdoms called Israel and Judah. Jeroboam attacked Judah, Rehoboam fortified villages and towns in Judah, including  Bethlehem.

Ezra, Nehemiah and Jeremiah speak of Bethlehem.  Micah 5:2 says, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, though thou    little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall  He, come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose  goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."

The Scriptures often use double names for Bethlehem.  This is because there was more than one Bethlehem. One was  near Nazareth and the other near Jerusalem. Micah 5:2  speaks of Bethlehem Ephrata, and Matthew 2:1 says  Bethlehem of Judea. They are the same place. The Holy    wants to make sure the reader would not get confused  about where Jesus was born. Christ had to be born in the  right town, namely Bethlehem of Judea near Jerusalem, the  former residence of the family of David.

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