Bethlehem of Judea

Bethlehem of Judea vs. Galilee

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Bethlehem of Judea
MATTHEW CHAPTER 2 COMMENTARY

Matthew 2:1-6 Bethlehem of Judea

MATTHEW 2:1  1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,

Where was Jesus born?
“Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea” (Matthew 2:1)

Why is it specified as Bethlehem “of Judea”?
Israel had two towns named “Bethlehem” during this era. “Bethlehem of Galilee” was located in the region given to the tribe of Zebulun in northern Israel (see Joshua 19:15), while “Bethlehem of Judea,” where Jesus was born, was located 6 kilometers (4 miles) south of “Jerusalem” (Matthew 2:1), the largest city in Judea and the capital of Israel. Bethlehem of Judea is also known as “Ephrath.” (see Genesis 35:19)

Where is “Judea” (Matthew 2:1)?
See Judea.

How large was Bethlehem of Judea?
Bethlehem of Judea is a city of 25,000 today. Two thousand years ago, it was a small town of a few hundred to perhaps one thousand residents.

Why was the town where Jesus will be born named “Bethlehem”?
“Bethlehem” in Hebrew means the “house” (bet) of “bread” (lehem). Jesus, the "Bread of Life" (John 6:48), chose to enter humanity through a bakery.

Who were the “wise men from the east” (Matthew 2:1)?
See wise men.

MATTHEW 2:2-6  2 saying, “Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And having gathered together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Why did the prophecy say in the land of “Judah” (Matthew 2:6) instead of “Judea” (Matthew 2:5)?
Judah was one of the twelve sons of Jacob, from whom the nation of Israel descended. The descendants of Judah became the tribe of Judah, and Judea was roughly the region that had been given to the tribe of Judah some fourteen hundred years before Jesus was born.

Who is “Herod the king” (Matthew 2:3)?
See King Herod.

Who is “the prophet” (Matthew 2:5)?
Micah, who had prophesied in the 8th century BC, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from eternity.” (Micah 5:2)

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