Here’s the story of the Star of Bethlehem as most of us know it. The year is 2 BC (approximately) when three mysterious foreigners appear in the land of Judea. The Three Wise Men (or Magi, as they are called) have been travelling for two years on a special mission. A mission to find the messiah, the true ‘King of the Jews’. The messiah has just been born, but they don’t know where.
Of course, like all good stories, this too has a villain – Herod, the king of Judea, himself. As you can imagine, King Herod isn’t thrilled to learn about this so-called ‘King of the Jews’ who might take his place someday. So he calls the Three Wise Men and tells them they might find this to-be-king in Bethlehem. In return, he asks them to report back to him when they make their discovery. His professed purpose: “So I, too, may worship him.” There’s one thing going in the Three Wise Men’s favour as they set about finding the messiah - and that is a certain guiding star. A Christmas Star - The Star of Bethlehem. The Star of Bethlehem guides the Three Wise Men right to Mary’s doorstep in the sleepy little town of Bethlehem, where baby Jesus was born. And that is when everything that has happened up till then becomes BC. Want to visit Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ? It’s replete with historical, religious and cultural stories, as also with fun hiking trails and night life.
Things to Do in Bethlehem
Church of the Nativity, Manger Square built right upon the cave where Jesus was born to Mary. It’s is one of the oldest on the globe.
Rachel's Tomb, where the wife of Jacob is buried, is another important site for Christians in Bethlehem.
Other places to visit include the Shepherds' Fields, Milk Grotto Chapel, the Mosque of Omar, and Solomon's Pools
Bethlehem is a perfect place for hiking. Try Artas Valley just a short taxi ride from the city. It’s got some interesting stories behind it.
Evenings can be spent dancing at the Cosmos Nightclub in Beit Jala.
Witness the magic of Christmas in Bethlehem. What’s better than attending a Midnight Mass in the city of Yeshua itself?
Did You Know?
The Magi were well-versed with the sciences of astronomy, astrology and mathematics! Their knowledge was key to finding Jesus in Bethlehem.
How can a star move right over Jesus' birthplace and stay there? The Star of Bethlehem led the Magi to Mary’s home itself. Its positioning was that accurate!
Was this Christmas Star really a star? Astronomy calls it a planetary conjunction. Two very important ones happened at that time. While one was a triple conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn and Regulus (a star), other was between Jupiter and Venus. In the latter, the two planets came so close to each other they shone like one big star.
Acting on a divine warning, The Three Wise Men decided not to report the birth of Jesus to King Herod. Realizing that he’d been tricked, Herod took the next logical step: murdering all babies up to the age of two years in his kingdom - except that Jesus escaped.
Flights: Most travellers fly in to Tel Aviv Airport (Ben Gurion International Airport) in Jerusalem, explore it a bit and drive into Israel through the Rachel's Crossing Israeli checkpoint.
Hotels: There are many good hotels in Bethlehem, including the Bethlehem Hotel, Grand Hotel, and Hotel Sahara.