Xmas Special: Where is The Biblical Bethlehem Now?

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Bethlehem, like Jerusalem, is one of the cities in the Bible with great significant but seem not to be where some people would expect and are lost to the imaginary of many people.

With the response our article on Jerusalem (in case you missed it, http://acegist.com/a-peep-at-the-disputed-jerusalem-following-trump-declaration/) generated and the need for our esteemed readers to know more, we felt obliged to bring to you a related topic, especially at this Christmas season.

Why is Bethlehem important to Christians?

It is the city David was from and where he was crowned as the king of Israel. Hence, it is known as the city of David. It is also the birth place of Jesus Christ.

Is the same old Bethlehem still existing?

The answer is yes! The city had however experienced a lot of destructions and rebuilt in the past. But at the end of world war 1, it came under British rule.

In the United Nations General Assembly’s 1947 resolution to partition Palestine, Bethlehem was included in the special international enclave of Jerusalem to be administered by the United Nations.

But like in the case of Jerusalem, the 1948 Arab-Israeli war changed that plan and Bethlehem was passed under Jordanian rule.

Did Israel let it be?

Yes, Israel had no option but to live with it. But not for too long! The 1967 Arab-Israel six day war changed the status temporary. Bethlehem was captured by Israel during the war.

But Israel had to later respect the 1995 Oslo II Accord which divided  West Bank into three administrative division: Areas A, B, C. Area A is exclusively administered by the Palestinian Authority; Area B is administered by both the Palestinian authority and Israel; Area C, which contains the Israeli settlement, is administered by Israel.

Bethlehem which is located in the central West Bank, Palestine, about 10km south of Jerusalem, falls under Area A and became a Palestinian city.

With respect to that, Israeli troops withdrew from Bethlehem on 21 December, 1995 and it came under full control of Palestine three days later.

Which Religion is dominant there?

Bethlehem, which has a population of approximately 25,000 people was formerly dominated by Christians. But the influx of many refugees from areas captured by Israeli forces in 1947-1948 war to Bethlehem area and settling there significantly transformed Bethlehem’s Christian majority to a Muslim one.

Did that make it lose its significant to Christians?

Not at all. Bethlehem, whose major economic sector is tourism, attracts a lot of tourist to its Church of Nativity. The Church of Nativity which is also known as the birth place of Jesus Christ, was built during Constantine the Great and Justinian between 325 to 565 AD and it is said to have been built at the exact place Jesus was born. The tourism peaks during Christmas season when christians make pilgrimage to the Church of Nativity.

Another interesting thing about Bethlehem is Christmas rites are held in Bethlehem on three different dates: Roman Catholic and Protestant, December 25, Coptic and Syrian Orthodox Christians, January 6 and Armenian Orthodox, January 19.

It should however be known that this Bethlehem is different from Bethlehem of Galilee near Nazareth.

Kindly use the comment box to drop your response.


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