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Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity  

In the Bible:
Rachel buried near Bethlehem;
account of Ruth/Boaz during harvest;
1 Sm.16:1; 17:12,
David born, anointed here, pastures sheep in Judean Wilderness;
2 Sm.23:13-17, David desires water from Bethlehem well during battle;
, Messiah to be born here

Bethlehem Map

A small village setting in rock 2,500 ft. above sea level east of the main road that ran through Judean Hill Country. Average annual rainfall allowed good agricultural growth of grain. The name Bethlehem means “house of bread.” It bordered the Judean Wilderness to the east which provided pasture for sheep and goats. It was surrounded by  vineyards and trees (almond, fig).

Boaz owned fields here and married Ruth who gave him Obed, David’s grandfather. Today Bethlehem encircles the site of Christ’s birth with a population of around 22,000 plus suburbs. In 135 AD Hadrian built a pagan shrine over a grotto honoring place of Jesus’ birth. Instead of eradicating the memory of Jewish Messiah, Hadrians’ actions marked the location for the Byzantine’s to build the Church of the Nativity in 326 AD. The church had 3 entrances (2 are blocked today). The remaining Byzantine door is also blocked, but the original outline of 326 is still visible with only a small entrance that prevents looters on horseback.  Inside is a long corridor with 4 rows of 10 pink limestone columns 19.5 feet tall under 11 arched windows with Crusader mosaics from 1100’s AD. The cave of Jesus’ birth can be accessed under the altar down stairs on either side. A recess in the wall of the cave has a silver star on the floor marking the place of Jesus’ birth.

Columns from the days of Constantine in the Church of the Nativity.

This church has artifacts in place as they have been for the last 2,000 years. When the Persians destroyed all the churches they spared this one because it had images of the three wisemen who were dressed like the Persians themselves. So, they spared this church.

The chapel above the nativity cave.

Mosaic floors placed here by Helena, Constantine's mother. The church was dedicated by Constantine on May 31, 339 AD.

Mosaic floor built beginning in 325 AD in Church of the Nativity, the oldest surviving church. This church was not destroyed in 614 by Persians like most of the other Christian sites and churches..

Columns decorated and still remain from the Crusaders.

19.5’ polished limestone columns of 325 AD with corinthian capitals covered with frescoes (pigment melted into wax) of the Apostles by Crusaders in 1100 AD


A close up of one of many of the Crusader columns.
This is a close up of the inscription above the column in the previous picture.
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem  
Galyn walking in a field outside of Bethlehem
Carl Rasmussen has the best photos and information at his site once again. Go to:,2,6,15,104
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