Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Tourists, Pilgrims May be Heading to the Wrong Bethlehem

December 24, 2012 1:43 pm 2 comments

A Catholic procession on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, 2006. Photo: Darko Tepert/Wikimedia Commons.

As scores of tourists and pilgrims stream into Bethlehem for Christmas, archeologists aren’t certain that they’re in the proper place to be celebrating Jesus’ birth. Instead, some think that the Bethlehem in northern Israel, not the town in the West Bank, is the real birthplace of the savior of the Christian people.

“I think the genuine site of the Nativity is here, rather than the well-known site near Jerusalem,” Aviram Oshri, an Israeli archaeologist who has dug for ten years in Bethlehem of the Galilee, told the Times of London.

“Bethlehem in the Galilee was inhabited by Jews at the time of Jesus, whereas the other Bethlehem? There is no evidence that it was a living site, an inhabited area in the first century,” he said.

“It was clear that there was a Jewish community here, less than five miles from Nazareth,” said Mr Oshri. “Doesn’t it make much more sense that a heavily pregnant Mary would have ridden a donkey five miles to this Bethlehem rather than more than 100 miles to the other Bethlehem?”

Unfortunately it may never be proven. Mr. Oshri tells the Times that modern construction in the village has probably destroyed archaeological evidence.

“There are several historical mentions of a wall encircling Bethlehem. Or course, no such ancient wall has ever been found in the city of Bethlehem, but here in this site there is clearly a wall,” he said.

An ancient church was discovered in 1965 when a road was built.

“We found in the church a beautiful mosaic that is now on display at Ben Gurion airport. The church was very large, and built over the site of a cave. It was very similar in structure to the church of the Nativity,” he said.
“Even if we have conclusive proof for this new Bethlehem I don’t think it will make a difference to people,” said Mr Oshri. “Christianity is leaning on the Old Testament, and in the Old Testament the Messiah should come from the house of David and Bethlehem near Jerusalem. So I think the belief will go on, the tradition will stick to what we know whereas archaeology and other evidence would suggest this is not the genuine place where Jesus was born.”

2 Comments

  • Oh yes, they are going to the right place all right. The Holy Scriptures take priority over archaeology (which actually proved nothing except there was some building work in Galilee). There were two Bethlehems – both are mentioned in the Old Testament but the Author of Scripture is specific about which one is really significant.
    But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Micah 5:2.
    But I chose not to go there on my recent visit to Israel. These sites have been ruined by building ugly structures over the top of them. The Temple Mount is one big example. (signed: DJ, a Christian Zionist).

  • Wherever Jesus was actually born, it is Bethlehem in Judah that the Christian Bible refers to. The whole purpose of the story is to give to Jesus King David’s credentials, so that he would be fit to be considered the Messiah.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Some punk rockers integrate their Jewish identity into their music through food, the author of a new book on the topic told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. Michael Croland, author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, described the way different musicians express this connection. “One band is known for throwing gefilte fish in the mosh pit, and people at its concert slide around on it while dancing,” he recounted. “Another used to drink Manischewitz [sweet kosher] wine out of a shofar [the ram […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    The manager of Scotland’s Celtic soccer club lauded Israel, after his team won a match against the Jewish state’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night. Brendan Rodgers said at a post-match press conference: On behalf of the players, the people of Celtic and Scotland, Israel’s been fantastic for us. We came out here on Sunday, [and from] the hotel, the staff, we’ve been very, very warmly received. The atmosphere at the game was amazing and, obviously, one team has to lose, but you have a wonderful team here, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    For the second time, Israel will host the Jaffa Jazz Festival, according to Broadwayworld.com. The festival will unite 43 Israeli musicians and eight international artists for a three-day event. The program will include a special performance by an ensemble of top jazz students studying at Belgium’s Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, the Belgrade Music Academy in Serbia, Israel’s Rimon School of Music and the jazz program of the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. There will also be a jazz show for children led by Israeli saxophonist […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →