Will Messiah will be born in Bethlehem?

Micah 5:1 states: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrath, who are little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of you shall come forth to Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from ancient days." Is it true that this is a prediction that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem?

Was there a prediction that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem?

Answer: This verse refers to the Messiah, a descendant of David. Since David came from Bethlehem, Micah's prophecy speaks of Bethlehem as the Messiah's place of origin. Actually, the text does not necessarily mean the Messiah will be born in that town, but that his family originates from there. From the ancient family of the house of David will come forth the Messiah, whose eventual existence was known to God from the beginning of time.

Christians allege that Jesus fulfilled Micah's prophecy in that he was supposedly born in Behlehem. Matthew's claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1) is supported by Luke 2:4-7. Mark is silent on the matter. John relates that some people believed the Messiah will come from Bethlehem (John 7:42), but does not take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate that Micah's prophecy was fulfilled by claiming that Jesus was actually born there. This is highly unusual and leads one to suspect that John did not agree with the assertion that Jesus was a Bethlehemite. He lets stand the opposing assertion that Jesus was really of Galilean origin (John 1:46, 7:41).

Except for the birth references found in Matthew and Luke, all indications, even in the writings of these two evangelists, point to the fact that Jesus was from Nazareth. In any case, being born in Bethlehem is of dubious value in establishing messianic credentials for Jesus. Jesus did not fulfill so man essential messianic qualities, as found in the Prophets, that having been born in Bethlehem would be of no consequence whatsoever.


© Gerald Sigal