Bible passage: Micah 5:1-2
Written: Sometime between 750-686 BC
In Micah 5:2, there is a prophecy that reveals that Bethlehem would be the birthplace of the Messiah.
As pointed out in the book, 100 Prophecies:
"The prophecy, which was written about 700 years before the birth of Jesus, is effective in a simple way: It eliminates all other cities and towns throughout the world as a place in which the Messiah would be born. It narrows the possibilities to one tiny village, near Jerusalem. And throughout the span of the past 27 centuries, since the time of the prophet Micah, Bethlehem is credited as being the birthplace for the only person who is widely accepted as being the Messiah, by people throughout the world, and that person is Jesus Christ."
- 100 Prophecies, Chapter 3.
The New Testament books of Matthew and Luke name the town of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus. Matthew 2:1-6 describes the birth of Jesus as the fulfillment of Micah's prophecy.
In recent years, however, some non-believers have tried to discredit Matthew's interpretation of Micah 5:2 by claiming that the prophecy refers to a person named Bethlehem, not a town named Bethlehem. This claim has been widely circulated on the Internet. One problem with this theory appears in Micah 5:1. In that verse, the prophet establishes that he is speaking of the town of Bethlehem, not a person named Bethlehem, by setting up a context in which he contrasts the great city of Jerusalem with the humble town of Bethlehem.
And, there is evidence outside of the Bible that shows that Micah 5:2 was regarded as a Messianic prophecy involving the town of Bethlehem. Here is an excerpt from the Jerusalem Talmud, which is a collection of Judaism-related writings completed about 1600 years ago:
"The King Messiah... from where does he come forth? From the royal city of Bethlehem in Judah." - Jerusalem Talmud, Berakoth 5a.
- Research and commentary is based on the book 100 Prophecies. © Ray Konig and AboutBibleProphecy.com.
Here is Micah 5:1-2:
1 Marshal your troops, O city of troops,
for a siege is laid against us.
They will strike Israel's ruler
on the cheek with a rod.
2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times."
(New International Version translation)