Despite popular belief, Micah 5:2 is not a prophecy that…

Despite popular belief, Micah 5:2 is not a prophecy that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.

In the prophetic books of the Old Testament, the Messiah is repeatedly depicted as a ruler like King David and is even called “David” poetically (Jeremiah 30:9, Ezekiel 34:23, Hosea 3:5). Also, the Bible states that David was from Bethlehem (1 Samuel 17:12). That’s why Micah 5:2 says from Bethlehem “shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel…” The Messiah is said to be a descendant of David, therefore technically the Messiah “comes from” Bethlehem in the sense that his lineage started in Bethlehem.

Furthermore, there is evidence in the New Testament itself that Micah 5:2 was not predicting the birthplace of the Messiah. According to the gospel of John (which by the way does not say anything about Jesus being born in Bethlehem), some people in Jerusalem were discussing whether Jesus could be the Messiah: “But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” (John 7:27) So according to John, the Messiah’s place of birth was supposed to be unknown.

I think Randell Helms puts it best in his book Gospel Fictions: “Only Christians have traditionally read this passage in Micah as a prediction of a future birthplace rather than as a description of the origins of the Davidic dynasty; we do not see multitudes of Jewish faithful eagerly eyeing the village of Bethlehem for the birth of the Messiah…” (pg. 85-86)

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