לחם בית - Beit Lechem - The House of Bread

By Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


BETHLEHEM (Beit-Lechem), city in Judah located five mi. (eight km.) S. of Jerusalem.

 

EPHRATH (Heb. Trpa), an additional name for Bethlehem of Judah. Rashi tells us that this is the place where nobles and aristocrats gather.

 

THE GARDEN:

 

The story of Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) begins in the “field” where Adam HaRishon was formed. HaShem then brought Adam HaRishon into Garden of Eden where:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 2:8-9 And HaShem G-d planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made HaShem G-d to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

 

This garden contained every tree which was good for food. Adam HaRishon also came from the ground, as it is said:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 2:7 And HaShem G-d formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

 

“Out of the ground” HaShem made the trees to grow and “out of the ground” He formed Adam HaRishon. We are all the offspring of Adam HaRishon, so we all share in his work:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 2:15 And HaShem G-d took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

 

The “Man from the ground” (Adam) was to tend and dress the “Trees from the ground”. Like the trees, Adam is a seed in the hand of The Sower. Indeed, The offspring of both the tree and Adam are both called “seed”.

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 55:10   For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

 

II Corinthians 9:10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for  [your] food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

 

Now Adam was to bring forth food from the earth, but he was to be nourished by The Word of G-d:

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of G-d.

 

Adam was a man from the ground, and HaShem desires that the ones from the ground should bear fruit. Adam was “placed” in the garden of Eden by HaShem, the most fertile and productive place on earth, that he might bring forth much fruit. There, HaShem was going to sow in Man the seed of His mitzvot (His instruction) and wait for that seed to be accepted, kept, and made to flourish and bear fruit in the end, to His glory. For when G-d created the grass, plants and fruit bearing trees we are told that He placed their "seed... upon (AL) the ground." Therefore, it is written: "the Lord G-d commanded upon [AL] the Man as one would place a "seed upon [AL] the ground"  . Thus, was Adam commanded not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Bereshit (Genesis) 1:11 / 2:16-17)

 

Through the keeping of the mitzvot, Adam was to bring forth fruit, bearing seed, like the trees were to bring forth fruit, bearing seed. Adam was also commanded to bring HaShem the “fruit” of glory by our praise:

 

Tehilim (Psalm) 29:2 Give unto HaShem the glory due unto his name; worship HaShem in the beauty of holiness.

 

Bereans (Hebrews) 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to G-d continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.

 

We are, therefore, meant to be trees of righteousness which bring forth fruit bearing seed:

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 6:13 But yet in it [shall be] a tenth, and [it] shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance [is] in them, when they cast [their leaves: so] the holy seed [shall be] the substance thereof.

 

We can trace throughout the Holy Scriptures the imagery of Man as a "tree":

 

Tehilim (Psalm) 1:3-4 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly [are] not so: but [are] like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

 

Tehilim (Psalm)  52:8 But I [am] like a green olive tree in the house of G-d: I trust in the mercy of G-d for ever and ever.

 

Tehilim (Psalm) 92:12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

 

Tehilim (Psalm) 128:3 Thy wife [shall be] as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

 

Mishle (Proverbs) 11:30 The fruit of the righteous [is] a tree of life; and he that winneth souls [is] wise.

 

Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) 2:3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so [is] my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit [was] sweet to my taste.

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 44:3-4 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up [as] among the grass, as willows by the water courses.

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of HaShem, that he might be glorified.

 

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and [that] spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

 

Thus, in the book of Devarim the people were told to spare the fruit trees and not cut them down "for the tree of the field is man [Adam].":

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 20:19 When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field [is] man's [life]) to employ [them] in the siege:

 

THE FIELD:

 

After the fall, man was exiled from the Garden of Eden, back to the field where he was formed:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 3:23 Therefore HaShem G-d sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

 

Adam would now have to till the ground and labor to prepare his bread. No longer was Adam to be in the most fertile and productive place. Now he would be in the field where:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 3:17-19 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.

 

The field must now be ploughed, harrowed, sown and tilled. The wheat must then be reaped, threshed, winnowed and ground. The dough then mixed and kneaded, molded into loaves and baked. All this, before there is bread to eat. Perhaps, that is why "the bread of men":

 

Yechezkel (Ezekiel) 24:22 And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover [your] lips, nor eat the bread of men.

 

Is referred to as "the bread of affliction":

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, [even] the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.

 

"Bread of sorrows":

 

Tehilim (Psalms) 127:2 [It is] vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: [for] so he giveth his beloved sleep.

 

"Bread of adversity":

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 30:20 And [though] the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:

 

"Bread of tears":

 

Tehilim (Psalms) 80:5 Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure.

 

It is "bread gotten by sweat". It is bread “taken” from the ground by hard and excruciating labor.

 

If Adam had kept the mitzvot of HaShem, he would never have had to extract bread in this manner. He would never have had to labor to extract his own physical and spiritual nourishment from the “field”. You see, bread is also a hint to The Word of G-d:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every [word] that proceedeth out of the mouth of HaShem doth man live.

 

Luqas (Luke) 4:4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of G-d.

 

The grain that is ground to make bread is also a hint to the righteous:

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah)  21:10 O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of HaShem of hosts, the G-d of Israel, have I declared unto you.

 

Luqas (Luke) 3:16-17 John answered, saying unto [them] all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan [is] in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Numbers IV:1 A king had numerous granaries all of which contained much refuse and were full of rye-grass. He was consequently not particular about the quantity of the contents. He had, however, one particular granary which he perceived to be a fine one. Said he to a member of his house: ‘Those granaries consist of refuse and are full of rye-grass. Be not, therefore, particular about the quantity of the contents. As regards this one, however, ascertain how many kors, how many sacks, how many modii it contains.’ Thus, ‘the king’ is the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He; ‘the granary’ is Israel- O thou my threshing, and the winnowing of my floor (Isaiah 21:10). So also it is said: Israel is the Lord's hallowed portion, His firstfruits of the increase (Jeremiah 2:3); ‘the member of His house’ is Moses, as it is said: My servant Moses is not so; he is trusted in all My house (Numbers 12:7). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses: ‘The idol worshippers are worthless grain’; as it is said: And the peoples shall be as the burnings of lime; as thorns cut down, etc. (Isaiah 33:12). Be not, therefore, particular about their numbers. Israel, however, are righteous; they are all wheat fit for storage, as it is said: Thy people also are all righteous.

 

Armed with this knowledge, we can now understand why the enemies of Yirmeyahu said:

 

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 11:19 But I [was] like a lamb [or] an ox [that] is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me,  [saying], Let us destroy the tree with the bread thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.

 

May he be as a flourishing field of grain," said the rabbis concerning the Messiah. And "kiss the wheat [BAR=either "wheat" or "son"]":

Tehilim (Psalm) 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish [from] the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed [are] all they that put their trust in him.

 

This was interpreted by them to mean: "kiss the Messiah". And this "King Messiah... from where does he come forth? From the royal city of Bethlehem [literally "house of bread"] in Judah." Are not kings born to rule, protect, shelter, and provide bread for their subjects? It is very apt that the little town called "House [BEIT] of Bread [LECHEM]" should be the birthplace of King David and the prophesied birthplace of King Messiah. Great and extensive is the tradition which says that King Messiah will come forth from the tribe of Judah and the House of David, and that he is to be born in Bethlehem. And it is to this generation of Noah still in exile in the "field" of the world from the "garden" of Eden, that His Majesty King Yeshua the Messiah is to come.

 

BETHLEHEM:

 

We shall see, in the wisdom of G-d, that Bethlehem and its environs is truly a city of kings. But first let us discover that wisdom in the naming of the small city of which the prophet Micah said:

 

Micah 5:2 "And you Bethlehem- Ephratha, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me the one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity."

 

Targum Jonathan (Micah 5:2) Out of thee Bethlehem shall Messiah go forth before me, to exercise dominion over Israel. Whose name has been spoken of Old from the day of Eternity.

 

O, thou Bethlehem Ephrata ... although thou art little in the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall come forth unto me a Man, a Ruler in Israel whose goings forth are from the days of old ... that is from the Seed of David ... who was of Bethlehem Judah. (Abarbanel, Mashmiah Jeshua, fol. 62, c. 2).

 

Although thou art little among the thousands of Judah, out of thee. Shall come forth unto me a Judge to be Ruler in Israel, and this is the King Messiah. (Rabbi David Kimchi)

 

In ancient times Bethlehem ("House of Bread") was first called Ephrath or Ephratha which means "fruitful," before it became known by its present name. Thus in the book of Genesis we see it referred to as "Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.":

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 35:16-19 And they journeyed from Beth-el; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin. And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which [is] Beth-lehem.

 

Thus we go from “Fruitful” to the “House of Bread”. This is why we go from barley as the omer offering after Pesach, to the two loaves of bread as an offering at Shavuot. We are going from “Fruitful” to “The House of Bread”.

 

When the Lord told Abraham and Sarah that through their progeny kings would come forth:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

 

Since Jacob acquired the birthright from his brother Esau:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 25:29-34 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he [was] faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red [pottage]; for I [am] faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I [am] at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised [his] birthright.

 

Jacob was told that kings would come forth from his loins:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 35:11 And G-d said unto him, I [am] G-d Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;

 

Jacob had twelve sons, Reuben being the eldest held the birthright, and it would have been from him that the parentage of a line of kings would have ensued. But Reuben lost his birthright when he lay with his father's concubine Bilhah at the southern border of Bethlehem by the tower of Edar:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 35:21-22 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar. And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard [it].

 

Jacob had gone there to camp very shortly after his wife Rachel died giving birth to his youngest child Benjamin. Rachel expired at the northern border of Bethlehem, which was called Ephrath at that time. Thus, right by Bethlehem on its southern border, Reuben, the eldest son lost his birthright to be founder of the royal lineage promised to Jacob. And on the northern border of the same town, Benjamin, the youngest was born from whom Saul ben Kish the Benjamite first king of Israel descended.

 

Bereshit 35:19 "Rachel died and was buried on the way to Efrat, which is Bethlehem. And Yaakov placed a monument on her grave which is the monument of Rachel's grave unto this day."  

 

Although Beit Lechem achieved fame in later years as the birthplace and early home of King David, it is principally associated with the Tomb of Rachel. 

 

Our Sages tell us that Yaakov buried her there on Divine orders so that when Nevuzradan, the Babylonian conqueror of Eretz Yisrael, would lead her children into exile past her tomb, Mother Rachel would rise from her grave to pray to Heaven for their return.

 

Beit-Lechem became the center of the tribe of Judah and was settled by an important clan descended from Peretz, son of Tamar and Yehudah, among whose descendants were Boaz and Yishai the father of David.

 

Shoftim (Judges) 12:8 And after him Ibzan (also known as Boaz [Ibn Ezra, Judges 12:8]) of Beth-lehem judged Israel.

 

It was in Beit Lechem that David was anointed as King over Israel:

 

1 Shmuel (Samuel) 16:4-13 And Samuel did that which HaShem spake, and came to Beth-lehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto HaShem: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely HaShem's anointed [is] before him. But HaShem said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [HaShem seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but HaShem looketh on the heart. Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath HaShem chosen this. Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath HaShem chosen this. Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, HaShem hath not chosen these. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all [thy] children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. And he sent, and brought him in. Now he [was] ruddy, [and] withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And HaShem said, Arise, anoint him: for this [is] he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of HaShem came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

 

If One wanted to speak of the town of royalty, Beit Lechem would be on the tip of the tongue. This is truly the city of Kings. Thus we see that His Majesty King Yeshua, the son of David, also came from Beit Lechem:

 

Luqas (Luke) 2:4-14 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Beth-lehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising G-d, and saying, Glory to G-d in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 

CALEB:

 

Bethlehem-Judah, the city of King David was founded by Salma:

 

1 Divrei Hayamin (Chronicles) 2:50-51 These were the sons of Caleb the son of Hur, the firstborn of Ephratah; Shobal the father of Kirjath-jearim, Salma the father of Beth-lehem, Hareph the father of Beth-gader.

 

Salma was a direct descendant of the spy "from the tribe of Judah called "Caleb, the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite.":

 

Joshua 14:6 Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that HaShem said unto Moses the man of G-d concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea.

 

The Kennizzites were descendants of Kenaz, son of

Eliphaz, the son of Esau:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 36:10-11 These [are] the names of Esau's sons; Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Bashemath the wife of Esau. And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and Kenaz.

 

Caleb was also a member of the tribe of Judah because he was of the progeny of Pharez one of the twins born from the union of Judah, the son of Jacob, with Tamar:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 46:12 And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zarah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul.

 

1 Divrei Hayamin (Chronicles) 2:18-20 And Caleb the son of Hezron begat [children] of Azubah [his] wife, and of Jerioth: her sons [are] these; Jesher, and Shobab, and Ardon. And when Azubah was dead, Caleb took unto him Ephrath (Miriam sister of Moshe), which bare him Hur. And Hur begat Uri, and Uri begat Bezaleel.

 

In Salma, therefore, the founder of Bethlehem and descendant of Caleb, the bloodlines of Jacob and Esau were united. There is also ancient rabbinic tradition that traces the genealogy of Beit Lechem's King David from the marriage of Miriam, the sister of Moses, to the same Caleb who was the forefather of Salma, founder of Bethlehem:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Exodus I:17 AND IT CAME TO PASS, BECAUSE THE MIDWIVES FEARED GOD, THAT HE BUILT THEM HOUSES (I, 21). Rab and Levi discussed this. One says: It means that they established priestly and levitical families; and the other, that they were founders of a royal family. Priestly and levitical families-from Moses and Aaron; a royal family from Miriam, because David descended from Miriam, as it is written: And Caleb the son of Hezron begot Azubah his wife-and of Jerioth-and these were her sons: Jasher, and Shobab and Ardon (I Chron. II, 18). ’Azubah’ is Miriam; and why was she so called? Because all had forsaken her. He begot’? But she was his wife! This is to teach you, said R. Johanan, that if one marries a woman for the sake of heaven, he is regarded as if he had given birth to her. ‘Jerioth’-because her face was like the curtains of (yeri'oth) the tabernacle. And these are her sons’-do not pronounce it banehah (her sons) but bonehah  (her builders). ’Jasher’ is Caleb, because he rectified (yashir) his ways. Shobab,’ because he disciplined (shibbeb) himself. ‘Ardon,’ because he chastised (ridah) his soul. ’And Azubah died’-to teach us that she was ill and was treated as if already dead, Caleb too forsaking her. ‘And Caleb took unto him Ephrath,’ this is Miriam. And why was she called Ephrath? Because Israel were fruitful (paru) and increased, thanks to her. What is meant by ’and he took unto him’? When she was healed, he treated her as though he were now marrying her, placing her in the litter, on account of his great joy in her. Similarly, you will find in another place that Miriam is called by two names on account of the incident that happened to her. Thus it says: And Ashur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Nelah and Naarah  (ib. IV, 5). ’Ashur’ is Ca

 

Thus, in Bethlehem's prominent son: King David, ran the bloodlines of Jacob [Judah-Caleb], Esau  [Kennizzites-Jephunneh], Moabites  [Ruth-Boaz], and the priestly Levites [Miriam-Caleb]. According to this Jewish tradition, being a descendant of Miriam (Aaron and Moses' sister), King David and his descendants would have both royal and priestly blood in their veins. Indeed, it is written in the Holy Scriptures that "David's sons were priests":

 

2 Shmuel (Samuel) 8:18 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada [was over] both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were priests (Heb. Kohanim).

 

And did not King Solomon, David's son, bless the people, consecrate the middle court of the Temple, and also offer sacrifices himself at the inauguration?

 

I Melachim (Kings) 8:53-54 And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto HaShem, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of HaShem. The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that [was] before the house of HaShem: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brasen altar that [was] before HaShem [was] too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.

 

Caleb, the spy and forefather of Salma the founder of Bethlehem was also the ancestor of King David of Bethlehem. The Holy Scriptures and Jewish tradition hold Caleb in great esteem as one who "wholly followed the Lord,":

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 32:12 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed HaShem.

 

* * *

 

MIGDAL-EDAR (‘Fold Tower’):

 

Migdal-eder: "tower of the flock", a shepherd's watchtower near Bethlehem. A place 2 miles south of Jerusalem, near the Beit Lechem road.

 

We mentioned earlier that Reuben lost his birthright when he lay with his father's concubine Bilhah at the southern border of Beit Lechem by the tower of Edar:

 

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 35:21-22 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of the flock. And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard [it].

 

The Targum Jerusalem on Genesis 35:21 states: "And Jacob proceeded and spread his tent beyond Migdal-Eder, the place where it is to be that King Messiah will be revealed at the end of days".

 

From this we can understand the Messianic fulfillment of the prophet’s words:

 

Micah  4:8 And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.

 

The Targum translates the “tower of the flock” as being “The Anointed One of the flock of Israel”.

 

Thus was it fulfilled, by the birth of His Majesty King Yeshua, Who was born at Migdal-eder:

 

Luqas (Luke) 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

 

Kiddushin 55a We learnt elsewhere: If an animal is found between Jerusalem and Migdal Eder or an equal distance [from the city] in any direction: the males are burnt-offerings; the females are peace-offerings.

 

There's a story in the Talmud, Masechet Derech Eretz (Chapter 4), which relates that once Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar was coming from Migdal Eder, from his teacher's house, and he was riding leisurely on his horse by the seaside. A certain man chanced to meet him, and the man was exceedingly ugly. Rabbi Shimon said to him, "Raka (simpleton), how ugly are the children of Abraham our father." The other man replied, "What can I do for you? Speak to the Craftsman Who made me." Rabbi Shimon immediately dismounted from his horse and bowed before the man and said, "I apologize to you, forgive me." He replied to him, "I will not forgive you until you go to the Craftsman Who made me and say, "How ugly is the vessel which You have made." 

 

Rabbi Shimon walked behind him for three miles. When the people in town heard of the arrival of Rabbi Shimon, they came out to meet him and greeted him with the words, "Peace be unto you, rabbi." The other man said to them, "Who are you calling rabbi?" They answered, "The man who is walking behind you." Thereupon he exclaimed, "If this man is a rabbi, may there not be any more like him in Israel!" He told the people the whole story, and they begged him to forgive the rabbi, and he agreed, only on the condition that he never act in this manner again.

 

Edersheim discusses this issue, as well. He informs us:

 

That the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem,[ In the curious story of His birth, related in the Jerusalem Talmud (Ber. ii. 3), He is said to have been born in 'the royal castle of Bethlehem;' while in the parallel narrative in the Midrash on Lamentations 1:16, ed. W. p. 64 b) the somewhat mysterious expression is used But we must keep in view the Rabbinic statement that, even if a castle falls down, it is still called a castle (Yalkut, vol. ii. p. 60 b).] was a settled conviction. Equally so was the belief, that He was to be revealed from Migdal Eder, 'the tower of the flock.' [Targum Pseudo-Jon. on Gen. 35:21.] This Migdal Eder was not the watchtower for the ordinary flocks which pastured on the barren sheepground beyond Bethlehem, but lay close to the town, on the road to Jerusalem. A passage in the Mishnah [Shek. vii. 4.] leads to the conclusion, that the flocks, which pastured there, were destined for Temple-sacrifices,[ In fact the Mishnah (Baba K. vii. 7) expressly forbids the keeping of flocks throughout the land of Israel, except in the wilderness, and the only flocks otherwise kept, would be those for the Temple-services (Baba K. 80 a).] and, accordingly, that the shepherds, who watched over them, were not ordinary shepherds.

 

* * *

 

Much of this study was derived from an excellent set of articles at: http://www.eliyyahu.com/

The author was unnamed.

 

This study was written by Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Greg Killian

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