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Was Jesus born in the city of Nazareth or Bethlehem?


Waiting For The Word | CC BY 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 12/22/23

Jesus is often called the Nazorean and spent most of his childhood in the city of Nazareth.

There are many city names in the Bible, and sometimes we can mix them up, confusing which events happened in each location.

Two cities that can be easily confused are Nazareth and Bethlehem, cities that are closely associated with Jesus.

Where was Jesus born?

In the Gospels, Jesus is called the “Nazorean” and is frequently referred to by his residence in Nazareth:

And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Matthew 21:10-11

Jesus spent most of his childhood, and even much of his adult life in Nazareth.

However, he was born in Bethlehem.

Jesus was almost born in Nazareth, as that is where St. Joseph lived and worked. Yet, it was a decree from the Roman Emperor that forced the Holy Family to relocate to Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth:

And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered.

Luke 2:4-6

It wasn’t an easy journey to Bethlehem, but they were able to make the difficult journey and fulfill the prophecy of the Old Testament:

“And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will govern my people Israel.”

Matthew 2:6

While Jesus spent most of his life in Nazareth, he was born in Bethlehem.

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