why was jesus born in bethlehem according to the bible
There are a number of explanations for why Jesus was born in Bethlehem. First, there are the historic reasons. The Gospels, unfortunately, offer conflicting data. The Gospel of Luke indicates Jesus was born in Bethlehem because a census was being taken that required Joseph to leave Nazareth to return to his
ancestral home of Bethlehem. That census, by the way, was conducted in 4 c. e. The Gospel of Matthew implies Joseph and Mary were already living in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. The Gospels of Mark and John don't address the Nativity and simply refer to Jesus was being from Nazareth. Bethlehem was the place where David was born. Samuel crowned David king of Israel in Bethlehem. David was a descendant of Ruth and Boaz, who were married in Bethlehem. If it wasn't the census that brought Joseph to Bethlehem, then he probably was there for ancestral reasons. There is also the story of Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. When Rachel died, Jacob buried her just outside of Bethlehem. This adds to the historic significance of Bethlehem as a holy place. There are theological reasons for Jesus being born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 offers the prophecy that it will be from Bethlehem that a new David will come, "one who is to rule Israel, whose origin is from of old. " Christians believe Jesus being born in Bethlehem fulfills this prophecy. A couple of outstanding early Christian thinkers and leaders give an interesting twist to the story of Jesus' birth. The second century defender of the faith, Justin Martyr, wrote that Joseph and Mary took refuge outside of Bethlehem in a cave. In the third century, Origen of Alexandria placed the cave inside Bethlehem. What is so interesting about this is the cave of Jesus' birth is the same cave where the Phrygian god of vegetation, Attis, was said to have been born. * This attribution of Origen's was made when Christians were still being persecuted and the desire to persuade others of Christianity's relevance was especially keen. I want to suggest a third possible explanation, one that comes to me from an idea of C. G. Jung's. This explanation derives from the symbolic significance of Bethlehem. Bethlehem was a sleepy village at the time of Jesus' birth. It is located about five and a half miles southwest of mighty Jerusalem, the historic capitol of Israel.
Dr. Jung's idea was that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, rather than in Jerusalem, because God enters our lives through the back door (the unconscious), not through the well-developed parts of ourselves (the ego). Jesus was born in Bethlehem to illustrate symbolically that God finds His way into our lives by incarnating unexpectedly in the devalued part of ourselves. We often become aware of God's presence when we are surrounded by personal darkness (Winter Solstice), frequently through dreams, visions or someone's witness that brings light and clarity to a part of our lives that previously was in fog. Spiritual awakenings happen when we are in altered states of consciousness - in prayer, meditation, worship, fasting, singing, chanting, etc. Bethlehem symbolizes this altered state in contrast to Jerusalem that typlifies our normal, well-developed way of being in the world. This Christmas - or any time you hunger to find God - look in the dark, remote, undeveloped part of yourself for what is stirring about, for what is restless, that disturbs you and won't leave you alone. This is the movement of the Holy within, the place where you will find your own inner Bethlehem; that place in you where God comes alive. * Attis, like Jesus, died tied to a tree then later resurrected to new life. The observance of Attis' death and resurrection was around the time of Easter. Key parts of that observance included the following. Each March 22nd a pine tree was cut and taken to the shrine of Cybele, decorated with violets, then an effigy of a young man (Attis) was tied to the tree. On the 24th, the Day of Blood, priests splattered some of their blood on both an altar and the tree. Some would also emasculate themselves. The next day, the 25th of March, the Spring equinox, Attis' resurrection was celebrated with a licentious carnival, complete with disguises that allowed every man to say and do whatever he pleased with impunity. Since Easter is celebrated around the time of the observance of Attis' death and resurrection, it is not too surprising that Jesus' birth came to be seen as happening in the same place that Attis' birth did. The New Testament says Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, but one rogue Israeli archaeologist says it is far more likely the Christian savior was born in Bethlehem of the Galilee, more than 60 miles from Jerusalem.
Aviram Oshri spent nearly elevenВ years excavating artifacts in Bethlehem of the Galilee an ancient biblical village near Nazareth that was later settled by German Templers which he believes show that the traditional account of Jesusвs birthplace may be wrong. But when he produced his findings for his employer, the Israel Antiquities Authority, he found his proposal dismissed and called вworse than a joke. в Oshri disagrees. The town of Bethlehem of Judea, about six miles south of Jerusalem, has always been considered the birthplace of Jesus. According to the New Testament, Joseph and Mary were living in Bethlehem of Judea at the time of Jesusв birth and laterВ moved to Nazareth up north. In another account, Joseph and Mary, who was then nine months pregnant, traveled more than 175 kilometers (68 miles)В from Nazareth to Bethlehem of Judea, Josephвs hometown, in order to be counted in a Roman census. That never made sense to Oshri. вHow would a woman who is nine months pregnant travel 175 kilometersВ on a donkey all the way to Bethlehem of Judea? в he asked. вIt makes much more sense that she would have traveled seven kilometers,в the distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem of the Galilee. Getting Jesus to Bethlehem of Judea is an important part of the Christian savior sВ history. В Those who believe that Jesus was a descendent of the House of David tend to believe that he was born in Bethlehem of Judea, where King David had been born a thousand years earlier. Oshri can list a host of details and historical facts that throw doubt on what has long been considered the accepted version of Jesusв birth and childhood. He begins with the lack of antiquities from the Herodian period in Bethlehem of Judea, which was the time around the birth of Jesus, a fact that is corroborated by the Israel Antiquities Authority. But Oshri took it much further, particularly once he began excavating in Bethlehem of the Galilee. He first heard from the locals that Jesus was born in the northern town, and not in the south. A local Christmas tree grower, who buys the idea, jokingly calls it Oshri sВ conspiracy theory. в During eleven years of excavations, Oshri found a massive Byzantine-era church, with a cave hidden under the apse, as well as parts of a wall that may have circled the village and another two-story building that couldВ have been an ancient khan or guesthouse.
All would be from the period of Jesus life. He says he has other proof as well. вHow did Mary and Joseph meet? в he asked. вSheвs from Tzippori and heвs from Bethlehem of Judea, and what are the chances that they would meet when they live so far away from each other in the ancient world? Zero. But Bethelehem of the Galilee and Nazareth and Tzippori are very close to each other. в Oshri published his findings in the journal Archaeology in 2005, two years after he completed the dig. He said that Protestants were open to it, but those who are more orthodox in their beliefs, such as Catholics and the Greek and Russian Orthodox, were not willing to accept his ideas. Neither is the Antiquities Authority. OshriВ ended up moving onto other digs because he didnвt have a choice, even though he said heвd love nothing more than to excavateВ the church again as well as the cave beneath. Uzi Dahari, the deputy director of the Antiquities Authority, says it won t happen, because the ancient church isВ just one of the Byzantium churches built whenВ Helena, Constantine s mother, came to Israel andВ built churches around Israel. вThereвs no connection, thereвs nothing that suggests Bethlehem of the Galilee could be connected, said Dahari, calling Oshri s thinking impossible. There s nothing scientific to prove it, said Dahari, before throwing his own curve ball. вAnyone who does research and deals with this saysВ that Jesus, the person, was born in Nazareth, and his family was from Nazareth,в said Dahari. вThe whole story of Bethlehem of Judea was just to tie him to the house of King David. Itвs just a religious excuse. в Oshri, however, holds out hope. He says theВ authority would allow him to excavate further if itВ had the money, and has tried to fundraise himself. He even asked Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, for funds. He said if Bethlehem of the Galilee was in Jerusalem, he could have done it, said Oshri.
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