Were there actually two Bethlehems? Yes, and the true one is located in Galilee! Have we been misguided by the Church on the true birthplace of Jesus? Yes… But why?
Written by Karim El Koussa
December 25, 2016
In this article, we will only and briefly but effectively focus on the exact location that have witnessed, more than two-thousands years ago, on the birthplace of the Christian Savior, Jesus Christ, or as pronounced in the Aramaic-Phoenician language, Yāwshu(a) Meshiha. Of course, we will not delve into knowing the historical Jesus herein, but we will start by quoting from one of the most important followers of Jesus—probably being the most learned of the Disciples, Matthew.
In fact, what we find in Matthew 1:23, is extremely important for now and for later articles on that particular subject, if I may say. It reads,
«Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son. They shall call his name Immanuel, which means God with us.»
Yes, so… on the 25th of December—a date to be examined in another article due to its Roman and Eastern religious connection—the son of God was born in a grotto! A simple note, yet very important to start with at this point in the article, is the fact that Ēl, or Al, was and has always been looked upon as the Most High God by the Canaanite-Phoenicians, with an adjective form of “Ēl-Alyon,” literally translated into “Ēl the Most High.” Thus, the name “Immanuel,” which was presented in Matthew as “God with us”, is in fact, “Ēl with us”.
Now, naturally, following that logic, this son of Ēl would have to be born in a land and to a people who believe in Ēl, his Father, and the most appropriate land for the God Ēl to incarnate in the body of his son, Yāwshua, would be Canaan-Phoenicia. And this is exactly what seemed to have happened, for we read in Matthew 21:10-11,
«When he had come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred up, saying, Who is this? The multitudes said, This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.»
This second statement written by Matthew would also give us another clue that Jesus who was born to El (not Yahweh) was also Galilean. Matthew, a tax collector or a publican (fn1) was traditionally accepted to have addressed his gospel to the Jews in the Aramaic or Hebrew language to present to the world an account of the teaching of Immanu-Ēl, the Nazorean Master, in an attempt to make them understand the words of Jesus of Nazareth of the “Circle of Gentiles” and believe in him.
This by itself almost sounds very mysterious as if there were two Christs: one Galilean-Phoenician and the other Jewish. This constitutes a conflict in itself since a Galilean is not Jewish and a Jew is not Galilean. Hence the clear name given to Galilee in the Biblical text as Gelil Haggoyim, which is translated into “Circle of the Gentiles,” or “Galilee of the Nations,” or “Galilee of the non-Jews”!
Now, examining that always existing reality from the New Testament itself would make one ask the very immediate reasonable question: Is there a Bethlehem in Galilee?! The answer would then be, “Well, yes of course”.
Before we discover the Galilean Beth-Lahm, it will be quite important to have a quick look at Galilee itself. The geographical area of Galilee of the Nations seemed to be included within the territory of Phoenicia at the time of Jesus and this has been tested in both Geography as presented in Map 1, and History too, as proven by the following notes. In truth, this geographical fact has been confirmed by Rev. Martin the Jesuit in his book, History of Lebanon, the Arabic translation (second edition). He wrote on page 13 that the Mountains of Galilee may appear as if they were not part of Lebanon, where in reality they were a continuation of its natural mountainous chain and that the upper Galilee region had not been conquered and occupied by the Hebrews as a place to inhabit, and hence it was called by the Old and the New Testament “Galilee of the Nations” or “of the Gentiles.” (fn2) He continued: «Therefore, it is rightful for us to place Galilee inside the geographical territory of Lebanon.»
This notion has been also affirmed by the Roman-Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, who gave in his reputed book, The Wars of the Jews; or the History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, the following geographical and topographic description of Galilee:
«Now Phoenicia and Syria encompass about the Galilees, which are two, and called the Upper Galilee and the Lower. They are bounded toward the sun-setting, with the borders of the territory belonging to Ptolemais, and by Carmel; which mountain had formerly belonged to the Galileans, but now belonged to the Tyrians …»
Having grasped that, we shall thus conclude that at the time of Jesus, the geographical area of Mt. Carmel (fn3) and Galilee was part of Phoenicia, thus, its territorial boundaries belonged to both Phoenician coastal cities of Tyre (Sūr) and Sidon (Saydoun) and could be primarily connected to Saydoun, a name directly related to the sea and the art of fishing. Most Galileans were fisherman! Map 1 shows exactly all that and undoubtedly identifies the two regions and differentiates them in two colors: the yellow is for Judea and Samaria; the red-yellow is for Galilee and Phoenicia. This area in fact remained a Phoenician-Lebanese territory until the end of the Ottoman era. However, in 1920 AD it became part of Palestine, and later, in 1948, of Israel.
It is in a grotto situated at the northeastern foot of Mt. Carmel, where Jesus Christ was born, and not in Judean Bethlehem! This Galilean-Phoenician cave was called Bet(h)-Lahm, and simply means “House of Bread” in the Aramaic-Phoenician language. Here are 5 of the most important recognized evidence—among many others—that prove the Galilean Bethlehem as the true birthplace of the Messiah.
The Parental factor
In addition to his disciples, all Jesus’s family members, especially his parents, seemed to have been Galileans, living somewhere between Mt. Carmel and Phoenicia. Thus, according to Ernest Renan, the well-known French Historian, and a peregrinator to the Holy Land, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was most probably from the Galilean Cana, known also as Kafar Kanna, a small village on the road to Nazareth, and that Jesus was Galilean and not from the Family (or House) of David.
The Galilean Cana, or Kana el-Djelil as known today, could be acceptable to a certain extent as the place from which Mary originated, only because it is in Galilee. However, many authors, like the Lebanese Historian and Maronite Priest, Dr. Youssef Yammine, believe that it is not the right place from which Mary came from. He wrote in his book in Arabic, The Galilean Kana in Lebanon, that Maryām (Mary), the Mother of Jesus, did indeed originate from Kana (Qana) of Lebanon.
In addition to the Galilean parental factor, and sometime around the 8th century AD, a theologian by the name of Saint John of Damascus—known to have been very devout to the Virgin Lady Mary—wrote that Mary was born at Sephoris in Galilee, a few kilometers from Nazareth, and very close to Bethlehem (Bet-Lahem) of Galilee. This has been also suggested by the contemporary American Scholar and Protestant Priest, Bruce Chilton who stated that both Joseph and Mary were from Bethlehem and Nazareth; and that it is possible that Mary was born in Sephoris of Galilee.
Other than the majority of his disciples, all family members of Jesus, especially his parents, were of Galilean origin, and most probably inhabiting villages like Cana, Nazareth, Sephoris, Bethlehem, etc. It would not be difficult to understand the erroneous logic behind a story that would like us to believe that a pregnant woman living in a certain area 2000 years ago, would have to travel for about a week, covering approximately a distance of 90 miles (140 km) from Nazareth of Galilee, across Samaria, to eventually deliver her son in some location in Judea, called Bethlehem!
On that, Ernest Renan wrote in his famous book, Vie de Jésus,
«The journey of the family of Jesus to Bethlehem (of Judea) is not historical. Jesus was not of the Family of David, and if he had been (a supposition refused by many), we should still not imagine that his parents should have been forced, for an operation purely registrative and financial, to come to enroll themselves in the place whence their ancestors had proceeded a thousand years before.» (italics mine)
There is no doubt at all that Jesus was born and raised in Galilee among his parents and friends. We never heard of Jesus of Judea! Did we?
The Shifting factor
Most free-minded and objective Authors, Historians and Archeologists of today believe that the Galilean birthplace of Jesus has been deliberately shifted to another region in Judea, Bethlehem, in an attempt to relate Jesus to a Jewish prophecy that spoke of the coming of the Messiah from the House of David. Something that had to be used by the writers of the Gospels and for reasons very few know, actually!
However, at the heart of this ludicrous attempt, the New Testament revealed the truth in a yet a coded manner as we saw above in Matthew 21:10-11 and as we shall see now in John 7:40-43;
«Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, of a truth this is the prophet. Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But some said shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the Scripture said that Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him.»
The fact that this quote reveals that there was a division about him and about his birthplace support very much the idea that Jesus was not born in the town of David, as per the Scripture. It actually means a lot on so many levels, be it Religious, Theological, and Cultural, but that would be left to another article.
Among the theologians who opted for the shifting factor is Bruce Chilton, the scholar and priest we cited before. He stated in his known book, Rabbi Jesus (fn4), that the Bethlehem of Galilee has most certainly held a close connection with Christianity since the Birth of Jesus. Chilton also suggested that Matthew did not entirely fabricate the story of the Nativity but simply opted or chose to switch the two Bethlehems.
That was also the opinion of Ernest Renan, the author we mentioned above. Chilton could have well elaborated his suggestion and analysis about this particular issue on previous knowledge or rather solid thoughts, which Renan endorsed while penning his well-read book, Vie de Jésus. Renan shares his opinion with the eager readers and seekers of Truth, saying;
«Jesus was born at Nazareth, a small town of Galilee, which before his time had no celebrity. All his life, he was designated by the name of the Nazarene, and it is only by a rather embarrassed and round-about way, that, in the legends respecting him, he is made to be born at Bethlehem. We shall see later the motive for this supposition, and how it was the necessary consequence of the Messianic character attributed to Jesus.»
The important question that strongly imposes itself would then be: Why did Matthew decide to shift the two Bethlehems, as Chilton suggested? It would not be out of error, of course, but rather a deliberate act by him who seemed to have quoted Micah from the Old Testament. The Matthew-Micah resemblance could be a Judeo-Christian Bible alteration of a later period, used as a notion that Jesus was the expected Messiah of the Jewish people. Micah 5:2 is said to have predicted that out of Bethlehem (of Judea) would “come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” Matthew’s 2:6 verse is said be tied with that of Micah. This sounds too plotted to be regarded coincidental or divinely prepared by YHWH!
At any rate, the reputed French author, Edouard Schuré, known for his profound engagement in serious esoteric research into the secret history of religions, wrote in his most read book, Les Grands Initiés—first published in 1926 and still considered a classical work of esoteric thinking—that Jesus was probably born in Nazareth, and that it was in that lost corner of Galilee where he was raised as son of Maryām, a Galilean of a noble family, and affiliated to the Essenes.
Yet we strongly believe that the word “Nazareth” is mainly a derivation from the Canaanite/Phoenician/Aramaic term “Nazar,” which is given to someone who leaves everything behind and consecrates his life by taking a solemn vow to God, or who was chosen to be consecrated by his faithful parents to Ēl, and this is definitely a Canaano-Phoenician habit. The terms “Nazars,” “Nazarenes,” or “Nazoreans,” were therefore given to a special chosen group of people that belonged to the Galilean sect of the Ashayas (or Asayas, Galilean Essenes). It is important to note though that this group of people had most likely chosen an unnamed or unknown locality in Galilee as their place of habitation and later gave the name “Nazarene,” which was attributed to them, to this locality, hence the name, “Nazareth.”
And that is why we read in Matthew 2:23, «And he (Joseph) came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He (Jesus) shall be called a Nazarene.» (italics mine)
The Historical factor
In fact, confirmation comes from many authors like Jacques Duquesne, the coetaneous French Journalist and Writer who was even more specific concerning in which Bethlehem Jesus was born. In his book, Jésus, Duquesne alluded to the exact place of the Nativity of Jesus Christ as Bethlehem of Galilee, and not the Judean Bethlehem. He wrote,
«We sometime wonder if the Bethlehem of the nativity is not another locality having the same name and situated at 10 kilometers of Nazareth, hence in Galilee.»
Another confirmation note is written by Dr. Youssef Yammine we mentioned earlier, and which appeared in his book, penned in Arabic, The Messiah was Born in Lebanon Not in Judea. Rev. Yammine wrote;
«This study is in fact an impossible mission on all levels and in each and every phase along its accomplishment, from the very first point of conceiving it till termination. Isn’t an impossible mission should you try to correct a belief that has been in the mind of people for ages, especially Christians, a belief that the Meshiha was born in the Judean Bethlehem, known today, and situated almost 10 kilometers away south of Jerusalem? Yet, this study proves that this belief—from historical and geographical points of views—is completely wrong because it was founded on shaky and unobjectionable basis. The Meshiha was instead born in another Bet-Lahem, in Galilee, inside a nearby grotto situated on the Northern-Eastern slopes of Mt. Carmel, in the land of Phoenicia-Lebanon. This Bet-Lahem was a Canaanite city for centuries long, mentioned in almost all the histories and geographies of the world, and is still seen today.»
The Timing factor
While contrary to Bet-Lahem of Galilee mentioned in the letters of Tell Amarna penned around the mid of the 14th century BC, there is no citation of the Judean Bethlehem in historical records outside the Biblical tradition, yet this Galilean Bet-Lahem was also somehow correctly mentioned in the books of Genesis and Joshua.
Studies are conclusive that the Bethlehem of Judea was established around the year 200 AD, maybe a few years before (fn5), as a place of pilgrimage for Gentile Romans and other communities of pagan beliefs, better say, followers of eastern religious tradition, honoring Adonis (the Phoenician Adon) in his temple built by Emperor Hadrianus. This location has nothing to do with Jews who were expelled from Jerusalem after the destruction of the temple by Titus in 70 AD, and not related to the Judeo-Christians (Christians of Jewish Origin) who lived in concealment for the fear of the Romans.
In fact, it was at a later period, not before the 4th century AD, that Bethlehem of Judea was legally founded—sometime around the year 325 AD and under the reign of Constantine the Great, the Roman Emperor who built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, also widely known by the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher—in this location, and precisely over the traditional Grotto of the Nativity, in place of Hadrian’s Adonis Temple where the Mysteries of the Phoenician God-Spirit of Rebirth was established, and as per the Scottish Author and social Anthropologist, Sir James Frazer, known for his great influence on modern studies of mythology and comparative religion, who wrote in his most famous book, the Golden Bough, that Adonis represented the spirit of the corn and that he might well have dwelt and later worshiped in this Bethlehem (fn6).
The Geographical factor
Beth-Lahm, the House of Bread, being herself called Ephrath or Ephratha, was somehow properly cited in the books of Genesis and Joshua as we have mentioned above and fits very well in the four authentic maps presented in this article that clearly show the two Bethlehems, however, before we proceed into examining the citations in the Old Testament, let us first understand what Ephrath or Ephratha means. It is a Canaano-Phoenician (Aramaic) term that means “the fertile and the fruitful.” No wonder Ephratha has been linked to the Galilean Bet-Lahem, which also has “fertility” as one of its meanings. In fact, the whole region of Galilee including Mt. Carmel (Vine: Wine) and Bet-Lahem (House of Bread) has always been determined as one of the most fruitful and fertile lands in the region due to its rich natural diversity of vegetation. We can easily compare it to Bethlehem of Judea and its surrounding region, including Jerusalem, which has less fertility, almost negligible.
When reading the complete text the two following verses were taken from, we conclude that they were mentioned in a context that does not support the geographical location of the Judean Bethlehem, but rather perfectly match with the Bet-Lahem of Galilee.
Genesis 35:19, «So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that [is], Bethlehem).»
Genesis 48:7, «But as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died beside me in the land of Canaan on the way, when [there was] but a little distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).»
Moreover, in Joshua 19:15-16, we read: «… Included were Kattath, Nahallal, Shimron, Idalah, and Bethlehem: twelve cities with their villages. This [was] the inheritance of the children of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages.»
This verse identifies precisely Bethlehem as the Bet-Lahem of Galilee, since the geographical location of the villages that had been distributed to be part of the land given as a possession to the tribe of Zebulun (fn7)—as per the Old Testament only—were clearly seen as hamlets located in the region of Galilee and not in Judea.
In the “House of bread,” Yāwshu the Meshiha was born and presented himself to the world as the bread of Life, cited beautifully in John 6:35. He appeared to have simply spoken the language of Love and Peace, a language very few understand, yet it is the only language that humanity should speak, now, all the time, at all the circumstances in life and everywhere they breathe.
fn1 From the Latin, Publicanus, which means “someone engaged in public service including handling public money.”
fn2 Isaiah 9:1; 1Macabees 5:15; Matthew 4:15.
fn3 Carmel is undoubtedly a Canaano-Phoenician term composed of two words: “Karm” or “Krm” and “Ēl”, thus, Krm-Ēl or Karm-Ēl (Carm-Ēl), and signifies the “Generous Vine of Ēl”, meaning, the “Spiritual offering of Ēl.”
fn4 Author Karim El Koussa discussed the Chilton’s contradictory suggestion and have thoroughly explained why Jesus could not have been a Jewish rabbi or a Jew at all in his best-selling book, Jesus the Phoenician.
fn5 Since that could be absolutely true, then claiming that King David has been born there is totally erroneous and misleading, without mentioning the fact that such a king did not exist in true historical and extra-biblical accounts.
fn6 In this, Frazer was referring to the Judean Bethlehem, however, he should have known instead that the Galilean Bet-Lahem was the one related, from the early beginnings of Phoenician religion, to Adon (the son of Ēl), and after him, to Immanuel (the incarnation of Ēl).
fn7 In fact, this distribution has been penned by Jewish Scribes in their attempts to legitimize their conquest of lands as per divine promises allegedly given to them in the Old Testament. Biblically, this area was known as the land of the tribe of Zebulun!