Bethlehem, whose name means “House of Bread,” is located six miles southwest of Jerusalem.
It is an opportune time of year to reflect on its history and what meaning this may imply for the future.
The first mention of the town in any record is dated roughly the 14th century BC. By way of perspective, Thebes was the capital city of Egypt at that time, and the largest city in the world, the palace of Minos was burned, and the Exodus was within a decade or so.
A recent discovery shows the town existed since an even earlier era, circa the 25th century BC, the time of the Fourth Dynasty in Egypt. Mohenjo-Daro in southern India, ruled by Dravidians, is the greatest city in the world, and rice was the latest new invention in Malaysia.
In the Old Testament, Bethlehem is the site of the tomb of Rachel, the beloved wife of the Patriarch Jacob. Here also Samuel the prophet anointed David to be king.
Micah the Prophet, living in the 7th century BC, spoke of this small and humble town with these words: “But thou, Bethlehem, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth one to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up…for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth…And this man shall be the peace…”
Matthew interprets the birth of Christ as the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy. Luke relates that when the mages from the East came seeking the King of the Jews their astrology foretold, the scribes of Herod the Great identified Bethlehem as the site, perhaps relying on this passage of Micah, or perhaps other passages from books now lost to us. The Slaughter of the Innocents, recounted in Matthew, which resulted from Herod’s fear for his uncertain throne is still commemorated on Childermas, 28 December.
I cannot step beyond the central point in history from which our calendar takes its reckoning without a pause to reflect that each event I have so far mentioned, the Exodus, the coming of astrologers to Herod, the Slaughter of the Innocents, the Birth of Christ, have all been called fictional, by arguments of greater or lesser sobriety.
For example, it is argued that Josephus the historian would have mentioned the killing of the children under two in Bethlehem had it really occurred; it is argued on the other hand that amid all the bloodbaths unleashed by Herod, the killing of a dozen children or a score might have been thought unworthy of mention by that historian.
I ask the reader to weigh in his mind the likelihood that no Exodus ever happened, but that the Jews invented an origin for themselves out of whole cloth, and the Christians did likewise, inventing Christ as a literary fiction, but then diligently reporting his life, deeds, and events in books they expected to be read to an audience of their neighbors and contemporaries; and these were Christians writing during one of the more intellectually active and literate periods on human history, the era of Virgil, Cicero, Seneca, and so on. Men of our time are more ready, willing and eager to swallow monstrous frauds without investigation than the hardheaded and skeptical men living under the Julian Emperors.
One might reason that the records of history are written by mortal men, vulnerable to error and passion, and that some event otherwise soberly recorded, such as the apparition of the ghost of Caesar to Brutus at Philippi, is a mere invention meant to garnish an otherwise accurate account. But then to reason that Caesar never lived, nor that the great deeds he was said to have done never were done, or to reason that the Romans never overthrew their monarchy nor conquered the known world, that the whole is fiction from start to finish, is absurd. But when it comes to Christianity, no doubt, howsoever absurd, is dismissed for its absurdity. There is more documentary evidence for the birth, life and deeds, of Christ than there is for Caesar.
Bethlehem is not forgotten by history after this turning point. That the birth was in a cave near the Bethlehem of Judaea (and not another town of the same name in of Galilee) is mentioned in the writings of St. Justin Martyr circa A.D. 160. The space of time separating Justin Martyr from the Nativity is the same as that severing us from the Civil War: and yet I assure you that as a Virginian living a mile or two from Bull Run, there is many a living man among my neighborhood who can walk the hills and point to the exact positions occupied by Union and Confederate soldiers accurately.
Saint Helena, the mother of Saint Constantine the Great, at her imperial son’s behest, traveled to this province of the Empire, and sought out holy sites where to erect shrines and churches. The Church of the Nativity stands above the cave that Helena was told by the locals was that in which the Christ was born. It is hardly impossible those in the neighborhood would recall the spot: the location of Plymouth Rock is known to those in Massachusetts Bay and yet a shorter span of time separates them from the Mayflower’s landfall as separates the reign of Constantine from the reign of Herod the Great.
The church was badly damaged by the Samaritans, who sacked it during a revolt in the 6th century, but was rebuilt a century later by Emperor Justinian I. The Moslems conquered the town in the 7th century as one mere bite in their relentless consumption and digestion of the Eastern Roman Empire.
I remind the reader that this land had been Christian, and the whole Roman Imperium extending over North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern and Western Europe had been Christian, for a period of time longer than what separates the Mayflower landing just mentioned from the present day. Cities in the Middle East stand empty from the days of the Moslem invasions to this, the apparatus of civilization, the aqueducts and cisterns and cultivation of the olive trees and the repair of the Roman roads, all fell into nothing as the Moslem passed over, and their ruins, like unburied skeletons, remain.
The Crusaders, whom historically illiterate persons make haste to libel unsparingly, recovered the town into Christian hands in the 11th century, and the Church of the Nativity was used as the site for the coronation of the Crusader kings.
In the 13th century, the fury of the Moslem revived, and the Mamluks tore down the town walls. The roof of the Church broken during desecration that occurred in April 1244. As we have seen with the destruction of the Afghani Buddha monuments in our lifetime, the habit of destroying the relicts of other religions is a perennial policy of the Moslem.
The town was ruled by Moslems, first Mamluks then Ottoman Turks. Napoleon and the Russian Czar both pressured the Ottomans to allow Orthodox or Catholic priests to control the Church. During this time, the theft of the silver star which hung over the grotto of the nativity occurred; it was one of the events leading to the Crimean War. So Bethlehem was under the heel of the Moslem until the end of World War One, when the town came into the hands of the British.
History was not done. Bethlehem was seized by the King of Jordan during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Later, in the Six Day War, it returned to Israeli hands. In the 1995 Oslo Accords, the prize of Bethlehem was turned over to the Palestinian Authority – a terrorist group – without a shot being fired, in return for the solemn promise of the Moslem to cease from the various terrorist activities which, quite frankly, have formed their character since Mohammed first took pen to paper to invent a dumbed-down version of the Christian faith.
Bethlehem, for centuries, has been the center of pilgrimages both of Christians visiting the Church of the Nativity and Jews visiting Rachel’s tomb. During the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000–2005, however, the violence destroyed much of the town’s infrastructure.
According to Ottoman tax records, Christians were 60% of the population in the 16th century. In mid-20th, it was 85% Christian. As of this year, the Palestinian Christians comprise less than two percent of the population.
Bethlehem, as the birthplace of the Savior and the City of David is about to be entirely occupied by heathen followers of the false prophet Mohammed, who are alien to the region, and who hate the Christians and Jews (and any other faiths wherever situate) with a remorseless and deadly hatred; a hate which knows no bounds, is checked by no sense of honor, decency, or pity, and which cannot be placated nor appeased.
The reasons for the loss of Christianity’s sacred lands to the bloodstained hands of the sons of Mohammed are not hard to identify: I am confident that any leftwing and liberal readers will leave comments below with an equal measure of sneering, snorting, exasperation, desperation, vaunting and condemnation, explaining as if to willful but retarded children that Moslems are peaceful, that Christendom is not at war with them and never has been, that their religion of peace is a peaceful one, and that the only enemy to civilization is white males with guns, and the only true terrorist is Pope Francis.
This is because the West cannot organize the will to resist the enemy. Without Christ, there is no soul in the West. Living merely for the sake of our productive free market and brilliantly conceived political and judicial systems is insufficient. Wealth and peace make life painless, but are not large enough a cause to which to devote one’s life. A selfish reason to live is not a satisfying reason. And so we have lost the will, and allowed into positions of leadership, both social and political elites, men whose only qualification is their absolute dishonesty and undying detestation for everything we hold sacred.
Such leaders as they and such a peoples as we cannot fight a war. We have become convinced that resistance is futile, for any act of self-defense merely encourages and provokes the foe. We have become convinced that even to name the enemy by name is an act of insane race hatred called Islamophobia. Any politician who speaks the ordinary common sense about how to deal with the enemy is met with shrieks and screams, lies and libels, and all rational conversation ceases.
The fate of Bethlehem is our fate.
In 50 years, she went from being a majority Christian town to one where Christians are unknown.
So London, so Paris, so Dearborn, Michigan.
Sharia Law will replace the Christian religion, Anglo-American Law, and Greco-Roman philosophy in the West. If it can happen at the very spot where the Star of Bethlehem shed it slight, what makes you think your hometown will be spared?
Merry Christmas. Unless you wake up, this the last generation to celebrate the feast.
Read more from the “Help for the History Impaired” series.
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John C. Wright is a retired attorney and newspaperman who was only once hunted by the police. He is a graduate of St. John College (home of Mortimer Adler’s “Great Books Program“). In 2004 he foreswore his lifelong atheism and joined the Roman Catholic Church. He has published over 10 SF novels, including one nominated for a Nebula award, and was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “this fledgling century’s most important new SF talent.” He currently lives in fairytale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter, and their four children.
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