Summary: No wonder Jesus (The Bread of Life) was born in Bethlehem (House of Bread).
Subject: What does ‘Bethlehem’ mean?
Complement: ‘House of Bread’
Main / Exegetical Idea: ‘Bethlehem’ means ‘House of Bread.’
Introduction: Names of places and people are of immense significance in the Bible. Even till today they bear a great importance in Eastern countries. Usually the eastern communities expect the places and individuals to live up to their name, which exerts quite a pressure on the individuals themselves. For example Abraham means, ‘Father of Nations’ and Bethel ‘House of God.’ Bethlehem - the city, located in the "hill country" of Judah, was originally called Ephrath (Gen. 35:16, 19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11). It was also called Beth-lehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2), Beth-lehem-judah (1 Sam. 17:12), and "the city of David" (Luke 2:4). I believe if a site selection committee had been appointed for the birth of Jesus, Bethlehem probably would have never ever made it.
(1) The name of this place may originally have derived from Lachma.
· The Mesopotamian god of fertility known from the creation story Enuma Elish.
· Bethlehem was known to all cultures as a place of fertility and growth.
· Even the Romans established a cult of Adonis in a grove near the Grotto of the Nativity.
· In the Old Testament, this was reflected in the name of the region Ephrata, which also means “Place of Fruitfulness.”
(2) Bethlehem is a Hebrew word and is the name of a place in Judea used in the Bible.
· Today’s residents use the Arabic name Beit Lachem.
· Beth and Beit mean house. Lahem refers to meat. It also means bread.
· Hence the meaning ’House of Bread’ or ’House of Meat.’
(3) According to Thayer it can also be translated as “Food from Heaven.”
· God Calls His this Gift "Manna" (Bread, or Food from Heaven).
· The bread from Heaven that fed the Israelites for 40 years of wilderness wanderings
· Hebrew word, which can also be translated-to-mean, "What IS it?”
(4) In Hebrew ‘BETH’ means ‘House’ and ‘LEHEM’ means ‘Bread’ – “House of Bread”
· No wonder why the “Bread of Life” – Jesus was born in the “House of Bread.”
· Jesus later said this about Himself in John 6:35, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."
Conclusion: Bethlehem means, “The House of Bread.” Thus … God saw fit for His Son, the “Bread of Life”, to be born in the “house of bread.” Remember that Christ testified after feeding the 5000, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35). How appropriate that the Son of God - the bread of life - would be born in Bethlehem, the "House of Bread." The One Who would meet the needs of the hunger souls.