Bethlehem: The City of David

There is a small town of Judea, now located in the West Bank, about 10 km from Jerusalem, without great natural attractions. Although no significant historical events have taken place in this city, it changed the course of history: Bethlehem is part of humanity’s path of salvation. Here, Jesus was born.

Mary and Joseph had to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be registered for the Census. During that time, in fact, people were required to register to their own family hometown.

Elio Passeto, nds
Researcher and Professor of Bible and Judaism

“Luke, in an effort to be more accurate, says that Joseph’s family was from this region, even though at one point some families from Bethlehem and Jerusalem moved to Galilee to develop agriculture – it is possible that this was part of the socio-economic strategy of the time. In fact, the Gospel of Luke says that Joseph took part of the Census of Quirinius, the governor of Syria and therefore he had to travel to his hometown, which was Bethlehem. ”

This researcher and professor of Bible and Judaism says that the Jewish families used to move from Galilee to Judea in caravans, generally during the period of the important festivals that took place in Jerusalem.

“Easter, Pentecost, and Feast of Booths: in these times, they most certainly traveled in caravans, because it was safer. Some rode animals and others walked alongside. Making a few stops during the trip, we estimate an average of 15 days of walking, which is the route from Nazareth to Jerusalem. We can imagine the journey that used to regularly be the Roman route, down the Jordan Valley to Jericho.”

While they were in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to baby Jesus.

A place seemingly small and of no importance. What was, then, so special about this town for the Son of God to be born right here? This is not a coincidence induced by the census: the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is part of God’s plan and is the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament.

The sacred texts announced that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, from the family of David. Jesus inherited the lineage of David from his adoptive father, Joseph.

“When David was born, there was already a model of unification of all the tribes which would later be the model of unification of all peoples. So, as announced by the prophets Isaiah and Micah in chapters 7 and 5, the descendant of David, the promised Savior would have to come from this small town. This has shed light on the entire theology, giving birth, in the Jewish tradition, to a messianic hope, focused on Bethlehem.”

Like the prophets in previous generations, so the angels of the Lord announced the coming of the Messiah to the shepherds of Bethlehem.