Church of Nativity in Bethlehem - Christians celebrating Christmas day
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Bethlehem is a village about six miles south of Jerusalem.
In the Old Testament, Rachel died near Bethlehem while giving birth to Jacob's youngest son
Benjamin (Gen 35:19). Ruth gleaned grain in the fields of a man named Boaz near Bethlehem.
The two were married and became the great-grandparents of David. Bethlehem was David's
family home and the place where Samuel anointed him to be king (1 Sam 16:4-13). Generations
later the prophet Micah promised that a future ruler of Israel would come from Bethlehem
In New Testament times Bethlehem was the birthplace of Jesus. Luke relates that Joseph and
Mary lived in Nazareth, but went to Bethlehem to register during a census because Joseph was a
descendant of David. There Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable, because there was no room in the
inn (Luke 2). Matthew says that a star led wise men from the east to Bethlehem to visit Jesus.
When King Herod learned of the birth of a new king, he ordered that all the male children in and
around Bethlehem be slain; but Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt with Jesus (Matt 2).
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