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BETHLEHEM-EPHRATHAH

There are two Bethlehem's in the Holy Land. One is in the north of the country in the territory assigned to the tribe of Zebulun. To distinguish it from the other, more famous town, it was called "Bethlehem-Zebulun". It is mentioned only once--in the Book of Judges.
The other town is called "Bethlehem-Judah". It is about 75 miles south of Zebulun and 6 miles south of Jerusalem. Some believe that the original Canaanite name for the town may have been "Ephrath," which explains the alternate version. Bethlehem means "house of bread" in Hebrew. It was a fertile area know for its wheat fields. Rachel, the wife of Jacob, had died there and was buried outside the town. Both King David and Jesus were born in Bethlehem-Ephrathah.


 
 
a body  you prepared for me

The infant within my womb leaped

 

ELIZABETH AND MARY

The Hebrew version of name Elizabeth is Elisheba, which means "God is fullness". This was also the name of the wife of Aaron, the first Hebrew priest. Appropriately, her husband is also a priest. She is barren and elderly, so the couple have no children. In this regard she is similar to other famous women in the bible, including Sarah, Rachel and Hannah. Each of these bore children after a promise from God. Elizabeth is called the "kinswoman" of Mary. While this is assumed to mean "cousin," the exact relationship is unknown.
When Mary learns that Elizabeth is pregnant, she journeys to Ein Kerem, a suburb west of Jerusalem. Her visit is accompanied by manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth's baby stirs in her womb. Mary expresses a prayer of joy.

 

If snowmen could love, Jesus would become one.

© 2000 by Father Richard Lonsdale. You may freely copy this document. It may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

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