Visiting Bethlehem is always exciting. But to visit Jesus Birthpace on a day of Jesus Birthday is simply fascinating. It is not easy, although. It took us almost an hour to cover a mile, separating Israeli Jerusalem and Palestinian Bethlehem. The border between Israel and Palestine stays always wide open, and no car is stopped for a passport or security check, ever. But on Christmas Day long lines of cars, entering Bethlehem from Jerusalem, and those who come back, speaks for itself – visiting Bethlehem on Christmas Day became a tradition for the Israelis, Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. And this is to say nothing of the endless lines of the buses, full of excited foreign tourists.
Bethlehem Christmas tree
Bethlehem and Nativity Church
The name of Bethlehem means two different but equally important things in our two languages – Hebrew in Arabic. It is translated as "A House of Bread" from Hebrew, and as "A House of Meat" from Arabic.
During the Christmas, the city is beautifully decorated, and in the middle of the Manger Square, the Main Square of Bethlehem, stands the Christmas Tree No. 1 of the World,
The story of Bethlehem starts with Naomi and Ruth, over 3,000 years ago. Ruth, the Moabite, widowed Naomi' daughter in law, travelled with her to Bethlehem and told her that she will stay with her and that Naomi's God and people will be her God and People.
Ruth worked very hard in the fields to provide enough barley to sell and to keep some for her and Naomi. Here, at Bethlehem, she met Naomi' distant rich relative, Boaz and they got happily married. Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed and a grandson named Jesse who would be the father of the future great king, David. God had promised David, the first rightful king of Israel, that his throne would be established forever.
Faces of Bethlehem
On a number of occasions in the gospels Jesus is called the, "Son of David." David was also born in Bethlehem, and this is how Jesus, was destined to be born here. The primary reason the birth of Jesus took place in Bethlehem was to fulfill the prophecy: "And you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, you being least among the thousands of Judah, out of you He (Jesus) shall come forth (to be born) to Me, that is to become Ruler in Israel …"
Christmas at Bethlehem
In early 4th CAD the first Christian Roman Empress Helena, already ages 70, visits the Holy land. Here she becomes the first and the most famous Christian Archeologist. She explores and finds the most important places connected to Jesus, including Jesus' birthplace in Bethlehem. Here she builds the Nativity Basilica, which stands till our days as the only church in the Holy Land, which has never been destroyed and where the services are conducted uninterrupted for of 1,700 years, till our day. Every year a Christmas Mass is broadcasted from here worldwide. And millions of toursists come yearly to Bethlehem to visit the place where Jesus was born.