Where Was Jesus Born?

Jesus’ birthplace and hometown

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in 2014.—Ed.


Where was Jesus born? In the Bible, Jesus’ birthplace is identified as Bethlehem. This scene from the Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel in Padua by the Italian artist Giotto shows Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the Bethlehem stable. The three wise men, along with their caravan, and angels gather around the child. Above the stable, Haley’s comet streaks across the sky. Haley’s comet was sighted in 1301, three years before Giotto painted this scene.

When the Christmas season draws near each year, the Nativity story is revisited in churches and households around the world. Passages from Matthew 1–2 and Luke 1–2, the infancy narratives in the Gospels, are read and sung—and even acted out in Christmas pageants.

Where was Jesus born? In the Bible, the answer seems straightforward: Bethlehem. Both Matthew 2 and Luke 2 state that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea.

However, Biblical scholarship has recently called the identification of Bethlehem as Jesus’ birthplace into question: If Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem, why is he called a Nazorean and a Galilean throughout the New Testament, and why is Bethlehem not mentioned as Jesus’ birthplace outside of the infancy narratives in the Gospels? This has caused some to wonder if Jesus was actually born in Nazareth.

In the November/December 2014 issue of BAR, Philip J. King addresses this question—where was Jesus born—in his Biblical Views column “Jesus’ Birthplace and Jesus’ Home.” He takes a close look at what the Bible says about the towns of Bethlehem, traditionally Jesus’ birthplace, and Nazareth, Jesus’ home.

Interested in learning about the birth of Jesus? Learn more about the history of Christmas and the date of Jesus’ birth in the free eBook The First Christmas: The Story of Jesus’ Birth in History and Tradition.

While Bethlehem in Judea was known in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament as being the birthplace of King David and the birthplace of the future messiah, the small village of Nazareth in Galilee was much lesser-known, not even warranting a mention in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud or in the writings of Josephus. King explains, “Nazareth derives its importance entirely from its relationship to the life and teaching of Jesus.”

The contrast between Bethlehem, the birthplace of King David, and Nazareth, a small agricultural village, is obvious. Yet both sites were significant in the life of Jesus.

So if Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as the Gospels of Matthew and Luke attest, why was he called a Nazorean? To see what Philip J. King thinks—and for more information about the Biblical towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth—read the full column “Jesus’ Birthplace and Jesus’ Home” in the November/December 2014 issue of BAR.


BAS Library Members: Read the full column “Jesus’ Birthplace and Jesus’ Home,” by Philip J. King in the November/December 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published on November 17, 2014.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible: Lawrence Mykytiuk’s feature article from the January/February 2015 issue of BAR with voluminous endnotes

How December 25 Became Christmas: Andrew McGowan’s full article from the December 2002 issue of Bible Review

Christmas Stories in Christian Apocrypha by Tony Burke

Herod’s Death, Jesus’ Birth and a Lunar Eclipse

Who Was Jesus’ Biological Father?

Why Did the Magi Bring Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?

Has the Childhood Home of Jesus Been Found?


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  • Paul says

    Hi there, I noticed the latest tourist info on Bing. Church groups are plugging Bethlehem and the church of the nativity, claiming that this is the genuine spot where Jesus was born.
    Bu-t, the Ebionites, (a “Jewish” group/sect, and his first followers) have something quite different to say about where Jesus was born. As I remember from there writings, Jesus was born in Jerusalem.

  • Alan says

    And, yes, Joshua (=real name of Christ*; Heb. Yehoshu’a/Ara. Yeshua/Gr. ‘Iesous) was certainly born in Bet Lechem (Bethlehem), the ancestral city of Dauid (David), during the first census of Quirinius; see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census_of_Quirinius. This was what the “wise men of the east” of Yerushalyim (Jerusalem) — 15 miles as the crow flies — in the desert wilderness of Qumran on Shavu’ot (Feast of Weeks) saw on the first day of the week in 6 CE; see http://tinyurl.com/mhbba3l. This was confirmed with our local planetarium in Baton Rouge. The “wandering stars” of Jupiter (representative of the Most High/Father) and Venus (representative of the virgin mother) as well as the conjunction with possible occultation of Uranus (representative of the Holy Spirit) and Mars (representative of the Suffering Servant Messiah of Isaiah 53) rose in the east in the constellation Pisces (representative of Israel). After the wise men of the “sect” called The Way (Heb. HaDerech) in Acts and the Dead Sea Scrolls met with Herod Archelaus, this “star” naturally moved from east to south towards Bet Lechem as the evening progressed — just as the Scriptures state.

    After eight days, Yehoshu’a was circumcised and the appropriate sacrifices were made for a first-born son breaking the womb in accordance with Torah (=instruction/Law; five Books of Moses). After Yosef’s (Joseph’s) vision, the family departed for Egypt. Herod Archelaus was deposed after the “slaughter of innocents” later that year and died in exile in 18 CE; see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod_Archelaus. The family returned to Israel when Joshua was 12 years old (18 CE – 6 CE = 12 years) and settled in the city of Nazareth in the region of Galilee. Again, this was as prophesied and as the Scriptures state.

    False traditions such as Herod the Great being part of this narrative when he died in 4 BCE and the precepts of men creating the fanciful machinations of the three kings of Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO SCRIPTURAL BASIS! Who doesn’t think that the wise men of The Way in Qumran didn’t have the means to gift Joshua the Messiah (Yehoshu’a HaMachiach) with gold, frankincense, and myrrh after the discovery of the Copper Scroll? See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_Scroll. We have been deceived by the “early church fathers” and “Biblical scholars!”

    It’s well past time to set the record straight…

    *Note: “Jesus” incorrectly originates from the transliteration of the Latin; it is NOT the translation. See the second footnote from Matthew 1:1 in Aramaic (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%201:1).

  • Alan says

    False church traditions, the “precepts of men” (manufactured theology), and “doctrines of demons” (assimilated paganism) cloud the truth. For example, most “Biblical scholars” simply discount Christ’s birth narrative from the Book of Luke. But when placed within the context of the Qumran calendar from the Dead Sea Scrolls, not only can one know with GREAT CERTAINTY the month, day, year, and day of the week when Joshua (Yehoshu’a) was born but when John (Yochanan) and He were conceived.

    For starters, one needs to review the program entitled “Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas” from when The History Channel actually presented history: https://youtu.be/XSQYX-OB1Rs. Mithraism and Saturnalia were assimilated from pagan Rome; that’s where December 25th falsely originated; see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithraism, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus, and https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia.

    Arguably, the most important quote of “Christmas Unwrapped” occurs at the 7:31 mark: “So if you’re gonna sort through the runes of the Scriptures, Jesus was probably born in the Spring. If the shepherds were out in the fields watching their flocks by night, we’re probably not talking about one of the cold spells at the heart of winter.” — Forrest Church, Minister, All Souls Church

    Note: I have no affiliation with this minister or church.

    The FACTS unfold as follows, and NO CHURCH currently teaches the truth:

    Fact #1: Elisheba (Elizabeth) was six months pregnant in the sixth month; concentrate on vv26 and 36. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1%3A26-38&version=NASB

    Fact #2: Tsekharya (Zecharias) was a Levite of the order/division of Abijah; concentrate on v5. https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=Luke+1%3A5-7&qs_version=NASB

    Fact #3: The mute and shaken Tsekharya returned home immediately after his weekly course was completed, and Elisheba conceived a son. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1%3A8-25&version=NASB

    Fact #4: This is the calendar documented in the Dead Sea Scrolls; see http://www.haderech.info/DSS/Calendar/QumranCalendar.pdf.

    Fact #5: For Elisheba to be six months pregnant in the sixth month, Tsekharya (of the course of Abijah) had to have served in the 12th month. The only time this occurs is from the 14th-20th; see Cycle of Priestly Courses… > Course Year 3 of 6 in the Qumran calendar above.

    Fact #6: As Tsekharya (and Elisheba) were righteous and walked in ALL requirements and commandments of the Lord (Luke 1:6), he could not have traveled more than a Sabbath day’s journey (2,000 cubits) on the 21st of the 12th month, which was a weekly Sabbath. http://biblehub.com/topical/s/sabbath_day's_journey.htm

    Fact #7: The first day that Tsekharya could have returned home (likely Kiriath Arba — aka Hebron — in the hill country of Judah) was the 22nd of the 12th month on the first day of the week. This was the day that Yochanan (John) was conceived.

    Fact #8: After Miryam’s (Mary’s) visitation from the archangel Gavri’el (Gabriel) in the sixth month (Luke 1:26), she left IN A HURRY to visit Elisheba. At the moment of arrival, Elisheba was overcome by the Holy Spirit and knew that Miryam had conceived a child. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1%3A39-55&version=NASB

    Fact #9: Exactly six months after Yochanan was conceived, Yehoshu’a was conceived. According to the Qumran calendar, that would have occurred on the 22nd of the sixth month on the first day of the week, which is the Feast of New Oil! Sidebar: The Feast of New Oil was also the fourth of four agricultural feasts each occurring 49 days apart, exclusive (i.e., barley, wheat, grapes/wine, and olive oil).

    Fact #10: The gestation period for women is 38 weeks from CONCEPTION (not to be confused with LMP) to birth; see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy. EXACTLY 38 weeks after Miryam conceived, Yeshoshu’a was born on the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) on the 15th day of the third month on the first day of the week.

    So, now we know the month, day, and day of the week of John’s conception and Christ’s conception and birth. Now, for the years.

    Fact #11: Yehoshu’a was born in 6 CE during the census of Quirinius; see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census_of_Quirinius. For the Scriptural reference, concentrate on v2; see https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+2%3A1-20&version=NASB. “Herod” was a dynastic title like Caesar and Pharaoh. The “Herod” at the time of Christ’s birth was Herod Archelaus; he was deposed that same year (after the “slaughter of the innocents” in Bet Lechem) and died in exile in 18 CE. When did the “holy family” return from Egypt? When Yehoshu’a was 12 years old (18 CE – 6 CE = 12 years) after Archelaus died.

    Sidebar: The only verse in the Gospels that contradicts this account is Matthew 2:22. The earliest extant manuscript containing that verse was from Papyrus 70 from the late third century CE (which is “a fairly reliable text, though it was carelessly written”); see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papyrus_70. The “early church fathers” were already at work destroying the truth!

    In summation:

    * Yochanan was conceived on the 22nd day of the twelfth month on the first day of the week in 4 CE.

    * Yehoshu’a was conceived on the 22nd day of the sixth month on the first day of the week on the Feast of New Oil in 5 CE — exactly six months from Yochanan’s conception.

    * Yehoshu’a was born during the census of Quirinius on the 15th day of the third month on the first day of the week on the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) in 6 CE — exactly 38 weeks from His conception. Sidebar: This is when the “sect” called The Way (HaDerech) in Acts and the DSS made new covenants. Christ’s birth ushered in the ultimate New Covenant! Josephus, a self-described Pharisee (and we know what Christ thought of them in the Eight Woes of Matthew 23), coined the derogatory term “Essenes” (=pious ones).

    The truth is out there if one seeks it. Shema, Yisrael!

    2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (NASB)


    Jesus was born on or near Trumpets, not in December as the world believes.
    December was the time the sun god was worshiped. Luke 2:8 says there were shepherds in the fields with their sheep. This doesn’t happen in December in Israel
    As He came the first time at Trumpets , so will He come the second time at Trumpets 1Cor. 15:52 ,1Thess. 4:15-16.

    • DENNIS says

      And when do shepherds stay in the fields to guard their flocks? During lambing season! And that is in the springtime, usually late March/early April.

      • John says

        Lambing season was certainly not the only time shepherds tended their flocks, they guarded them day and night throughout the year, during the evenings the sheep were penned, but, the shepherd still had to watch over them to guard against thieves and wild animals. 1 Samuel 17:34-36 and John 10:10-12 where Jesus uses a shepherd and sheep in an illustration, that people on the whole were familiar with.

  • Andrew says

    Boy i tell you people try to nit pick too much I am far from a scholar but it clearly says the romans was doing a Census, everybody had to go back to their place of birth for it, Now it says he was born there but nothing about being raised there,, common sense people my sister was born in New York but raised in Kentucky and in 47 years I’ve never herd her say she was a new yorker..

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