As millions celebrate the birth of Jesus, a question has arisen about the actual location the Son of God came into the world.
The Bible mentions Bethlehem in both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, but an Israeli archaeologist believes another Bethlehem, one situated in the region of Galilee and not Judea, is the likely place Christ was born.
“There is the fact that Jews were living here at the time of Jesus, that is absent in the other Bethlehem,” archaeologist Aviram Oshri told Britain’s Sky News.
The lesser known Bethlehem is mentioned in the Old Testament Book of Joshua, situated among towns of the tribe of Zebulun.
“We have a Christian community, a very large Christian community, living here and defending itself by building a fortification wall, signifying that the spot was very important for them,” said Oshri. “We have a large church with a cave underneath which is exactly the same as the other Bethlehem.”
Oshri reportedly found the remains of the strong fortification walls among olive trees on the edges of Bethlehem of Galilee, and he suggests early Christians built it to protect the real site of Jesus’ birth.
On his website, he writes, “It is possible that, because of the hostility the Jews had toward Christians in this period, the residents of Bethlehem of Galilee fortified the site which they held to be the birthplace of the Christian Messiah.”
But at some point in history, all traces linking the Galilee site to the Nativity disappeared.
“They did not die out; they were killed off, deliberately” Oshri told Sky News, suggesting a reason for the cover-up of sorts.
The Old Testament prophets had predicted the Savior would be born in Bethlehem of Judea.
That would preclude the Messiah from being born in Galilee.
Oshri has had trouble finding out for sure because the key piece of evidence has been destroyed.
In the 1960s, a road was constructed through the ruins of the early Christian church in the heart of the Galilee Bethlehem.
The cave underneath the church was only partially damaged, but Oshri has not been able to get permission or funding to excavate the site.
In the King James Version of the Bible, the Gospel of Matthew states, “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.”