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Reference: Bethlehem


The name of two places in Palestine.

1. Bethlehem of Judah, otherwise Ephrath or Ephrathah, now represented by the town of Beit Lahm, 5 miles S. of Jerusalem. On the way thither Rachel was buried (Ge 35:19; 48:7). Hence came the two Levites whose adventures are related in Jg 17; 19. It was the home of Elimelech, the father-in-law of Ruth (Ru 1:1), and here Ruth settled with her second husband Boaz, and became the ancestress of the family of David, whose connexion with Bethlehem is emphasized throughout his history (1Sa 16:1-18; 17:12; 20:6 etc.). The Philistines had here a garrison during David's outlawry (2Sa 23:14; 1Ch 11:16). Here Asahel was huried (2Sa 2:32), and hence came Elhanan, one of the mighty men (2Sa 23:24; cf. 2Sa 21:19). Rehoboam fortified it (2Ch 11:6), and here the murderers of Gedaliah took refuge (Jer 41:17). Whether the Salma referred to in 1Ch 2:51,54 as 'father of Bethlehem' (whatever that expression may exactly mean) be the same as the Salmon who was father of Boaz (Ru 4:20)

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