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The city of Bethlehem is one of the most renowned cities in the Judeo-Christian world. Mainly for the Birthplace of Jesus and King David. Bethlehem is mentioned first in the famous Amarna Archives of 1350–1330 BCE. This is the point in time when Canaanites ruled the city.

A Typical Street in Old Town Bethlehem

This is the point in time when Canaanites ruled the city. 

Abdi-Heba, the Egyptian-appointed governor of Jerusalem, appeals to the Pharoh for some military assistance in recapturing Bethlehem from the Apiru mercenaries:

“Now even a town near Jerusalem, Bit-Lahmi by name; a village which once belonged to the king, has fallen to the enemy […] Let the king hear the words of your servant Abdi-Heba; and send archers to restore the imperial lands of the king!”

The Meaning of the Name Bethlehem

Did you ever ask yourselves what does the name Bethlehem means? So in Hebrew (and Aramaic) Bethlehem means ‘House of Bread’. Strangely enough in Arabic, it means ‘House of Meat’. Scholars believe that the similarity of this name to its modern forms indicates that it was in the very beginning populated by Canaanites. as we know very well they h

Did you ever ask yourselves what the name Bethlehem means? So in Hebrew (and Aramaic), Bethlehem means ‘House of Bread.’ Strangely enough, in Arabic, it means ‘House of Meat.’ Scholars believe that the similarity of this name to its modern forms indicates that it was in the very beginning populated by Canaanites. as we know very well, they have much in common culturally and linguistically with the later arrivals.

Church of the Nativity
The Church of the Nativity where the Canaanite Temple Most Probably Stood.

In addition, the Akkadian god of fertility was Laḫmu. In fact, he was revered by the Canaanites as Leḥem. At some point in time (the third millennium BCE), the Canaanites constructed a temple on the hill where the Church of Nativity is today, probably dedicated to Lehem. As a result, the shrine and the town that developed around it would later have been identified as Beyt Leḥem. That is to say, the “House (Temple) of Lehem.”

What I am trying to say is that the name remained basically the same for over three millenniums. However, it has meant different things: First, it told the “‘Temple of the God Lakhmu’ in Canaanite. Then the ‘House of Bread’ in Hebrew and also Aramaic. And lastly, in Arabic, it means ‘House of Meat.’

Bethlehem In the Bible

Bethlehem is super important in the Hebrew Bible! First, we hear that the city was established as a fortified city by Rehoboam. Second, we learn from the bible that Bethlem is no less than the city where King David originated from. Not just that, but also the place where he was crowned as the king of Israel. In addition, in the new testament, Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus.

St. Jerome
The Statue of St. Jerome at the Entrance of the St. Catherine Church, Bethlehem

Eventually, Bethlehem was destroyed by Emperor Hadrian when the Bar Kokhba revolt broke out. Its rebuilding was encouraged by Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. In fact, he was the one that commissioned the building of its great Church of the Nativity in 327 CE. Also, the church was severely damaged by the Samaritans, who sacked it during a revolt in 529. But it was rebuilt a century later by Emperor Justinian I.

The Bethlehem Ultimate Guide
The Star of Bethlehem – Where According to Christian Tradition Jesus Was Born

In the past, most of the city’s population was Christian, but demographic changes that included the migration of many Christians to American and European countries, and the migration of Muslims from the surrounding villages and Hebron to the city, have now made it primarily a Muslim city. According to some estimates, 40% of the population are Christians. Other estimates suggest that only one-fifth (20%) of the people living in Bethlehem today are Christians.


Hi! My name is Arik, an Israeli native who dedicated his life to sharing my passion for the Holy Land with those interested in knowing more about this incredible piece of land. I’m the Chief Guide at ‘APT Private Tours in Israel’.

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