Anonymous asked in TravelAfrica & Middle EastIsrael · 1 decade ago

Who named the Town of Bethlehem, the Jews or the Arabs?

Recall that in Hebrew "lechem" means bread, while in Arabic it means meat! From the Story of Ruth and Boaz, we know there was grain in the area, and that Ruth and Boaz were King David's great grandparents. King David of Judea as we all know came from Bethlehem which one would assume means "House of Bread" rather than "House of Meat," which would be the case had it been named by the Arabs. So, how could the Arabs have named Bethlehem or been in Judea at the Time of King David!

16 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer


    House of bread.

    (1.) A city in the "hill country" of Judah. It was originally called Ephrath (Gen 35:16, 19; Gen 48:7; Ruth 4:11). It was also called Beth-lehem Ephratah (Mic 5:2), Beth-lehem-judah (1Sa 17:12), and "the city of David" (Luke 2:4). It is first noticed in Scripture as the place where Rachel died and was buried "by the wayside," directly to the north of the city (Gen 48:7). The valley to the east was the scene of the story of Ruth the Moabitess. There are the fields in which she gleaned, and the path by which she and Naomi returned to the town. Here was David's birth-place, and here also, in after years, he was anointed as king by Samuel (1Sa 16:4-13); and it was from the well of Bethlehem that three of his heroes brought water for him at the risk of their lives when he was in the cave of Adullam (2Sa 23:13-17). But it was distinguished above every other city as the birth-place of "Him whose goings forth have been of old" (Mat 2:6; Compare Mic 5:2). Afterwards Herod, "when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men," sent and slew "all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under" (Mat 2:16, 18; Jer 31:15).

    —Easton's Illustrated Dictionary

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    EVERYONE has the WRONG answer. Neither Arabs, nor Jews were present when Bethlehem existed. There were Semites there whom did name it, but they were neither Arab, nor Jew. Arabs translated the name in Arabic and Jews in Hebrew. The first historical reference to the town appears in the Amarna Letters (C. 1400 BC) when the King of Jerusalem appeals to his Lord, the King of Egypt, for help in retaking "Bit-Lahmi" in the wake of disturbances by the Apiru. Since the Jews and Arabs had not yet arrived in the area it is thought that the similarity of this name to its modern forms inidicates that this was a settlement of unknown Semites.It has never been clear whom of Arabs and Jews were in Bethlehem first, but it would stand to reason since Arabs have always been the most numerous and own almost all of Canaan, even Israel until 1948, and Iran, it would be very plausable the Arabs were there first.After all, it is in the Arabian Peninsula.

  • ?
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Beit Lehem

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Actually that isn't how you pronounce meat in Arabic, is is lahem, with the accent on the H.

    I agree with Miss Sarah's answer as well.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • Arabic and Hebrew have the same roots, so it is likely that the name Bethlehem came from a common ancestor, as different languages to those of the modern world were spoken there.

  • 1 decade ago

    Wikipedia says:

    "The first historical reference to the town appears in the Amarna Letters (C. 1400 BC) when the King of Jerusalem appeals to his Lord, the King of Egypt, for help in retaking "Bit-Lahmi" in the wake of disturbances by the Apiru.[8] Since the Jews and Arabs had not yet arrived in the area it is thought that the similarity of this name to its modern forms inidicates that this was a settlement of Canaanites who shared a Semitic cultural and linguistic heritage with the later arrivals.[9]"

    *9: # ^ "International Dictionary of Historic Places: Vol 4, Middle East and Africa", Trudy Ring, K.A Berney, Robert M. Salkin, Sharon La Boda, Noelle Watson, Paul Schellinger, p. 133, Taylor & Francis, 1996ISBN 1884964036

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The question goes around the old topic "who settled Palestine first?"

    No one denies that Judaism (as religion) was first in Palestine. Islam and Christianity recognize that very well. No one even argue about that, because religious people do not have political rights!

    Which means; Muslims cannot go claim Spain for example just because many cities like; Valladolid (Balad Al-Waleed), Sevilla (Isbilya) and many other cities were named by Muslims.

    Taking the following facts in consideration, such claim is not valid;

    -Judaism is not a race and anyone can become a Jew and anyone can stop being Jew.

    -Majority of Jews who stayed in Palestine converted to Christianity and Islam

    -Majority of Jews nowadays are convert Jews

    -Majority of Jews who settled Palestine nowadays are not native to the land but immigrants from all over the world without common language, history, culture, or country of origin.

    -Majority of Jewish immigrants are atheists of Jewish mothers

    -According to historic population figures, Palestinian Muslims and Christians kept the majority in Palestine, while Jews were always a respected minority of the land.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Well, what do you think?

    The Hebrew language predates the Arabic language, so of course the city had a Hebrew name before it had an Arabic one.. duhh??

    This is pointless anyway because the Jews that did name it Bet Lechem might as well be modern Palestinians that converted to Islam and Christianity.

  • 1 decade ago

    The Arabs of course, son.

    What kind of question is that.

    I am sure you wrote nonesence below your question, because you would not ask the original question otherwise, right?

    So the Arabs it is.

    Now, get aawaaay from me, kid!


  • Shay p
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Jews did.

    The modern name Beit-Lahm, “House of Flesh,” is somewhat different in sound and meaning from the ancient Hebrew Beth-Lehem, “House of Bread;” but it is doubtless a popular corruption, such as one frequently meets with in Palestine. In olden times the town was called Beth-lehem Judah, to distinguish it from another Beth-lehem in Zebulun. It was also called Ephratah, “the Fruitful;” probably for the same reason that the name “House of Bread” had been given to it. . . . On the eastern brow of the ridge, separated from the crowded village by an open esplanade, is the convent, like a large, feudal castle. It is a huge pile, consisting of the Church of the Nativity and the three convents—Latin, Greek, and Armenian—abutting on its north, east, and south sides. The site is most commanding, the view from it embracing a large section of the wilderness of Judea, the Jordan valley and Dead Sea, and the purple-tinted mountain-chain of Moab and Gilead stretching like a great wall along the horizon, north and south, far as the eye can see. (Source: Jerusalem, Bethany, and Bethlehem, pp. 113, 116-119.)

    Not to forget another Bethlehem.

    Bethlehem of Galilee (Hebrew: בֵּית לֶחֶם הַגְּלִילִית‎, Beit Lehem HaGlilit; literally "the Galilean Bethlehem"). Located in the Galilee near Kiryat Tivon, around 10 kilometres north-west of Nazareth and 30 kilometres east of Haifa. It is mentioned in the Book of Joshua (19:15) as the city of the Tribe of Zebulun.

    To distinguish the town from the city of Bethlehem near Jerusalem, it was originally known as Bethlehem of Zebulun, whilst the town near Jerusalem was called "Bethlehem of Judea."

    The hometown of the judge Ibzan, Bethlehem of Galilee was inhabited by Jews until some time after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. In the Jerusalem Talmud it is referred to as Beth Lehem Zoria, as it was part of the kingdom of Tyre at the time. During the Crusades, it was a small Christian town of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, later abandoned.

    Due to its proximity to Nazareth, some historians believe that this is the Bethelehem where Jesus was born. Aviram Oshri, a senior archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, supports this claim. Until the late 19th century, ruins of a church and a synagogue could be seen there, and archeological findings show it was a prosperous city. Some scholars regard Bethlehem of Galilee as one of the birthplaces of Rabbinical Judaism.

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