The first biblical mention of Bethlehem goes back to the return of Jacob to Palestine when his wife Rachel died. She was one of his two wives and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. She passed away during difficult labor to Benjamin and was buried outside Bethlehem on the road to Efrat, according to Genesis 48:7.
As we stated previously, Bethlehem bore witness to even more biblical figures, including the first two kings of Israel, Saul (1 Sam. 9:1 to 13:22) and David (1 Sam. 16:1-13). Although the first mention of the relation between David and Bethlehem wasn’t until the book of Samuel, Bethlehem is widely known as the City of David. Many of the events that took place here changed the course of history for David, including his coronation by Samuel (1 Sam 16:1-13). Besides David himself, his mighty men and relatives had close ties to the city, including Asahel and Elhanan.
Bethlehem’s biblical significance increased further with the prophecy about the birth of the Messiah, as explained in the books of Micah, John, and Matthew. For example, Matthew 2:6 compares the Messiah to a shepherd of people in verse “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people in Israel.”. Of course, we can see how this prophecy was fulfilled later with the birth of Jesus Christ.
Although there is still much to discover about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the Gospel of Luke has precise references to the incident. Luke states that Joseph, a descendant of David, traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem with his wife Mary. The Gospel of Luke describes the birth of Jesus in the following verse “…She gave birth to her first-born Son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the place where travelers lodged.” (Luke 2:4,7). Upon his birth, an angel announced to the shepherds, who traveled to Bethlehem to pay homage while spreading the news.
Despite ongoing debates about the Cave Theory, Bethlehem gained recognition as the birthplace of Jesus nonetheless ever since the early church, especially because the cave where Jesus was born got referenced by the Gospel of James.