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Bethlehem--Wow, So That's How You Pronounce It

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
So, DH was looking at apartments and came across this place called "Bethlehem Apartments." He was telling me about it... and said, "It's called Bayt Laham". I had no idea what he was talking about.. and said, "Gee, that sounds like Arabic. That's really strange that they'd give it that name... especially after 9/11." Turns out, that's the way Arabs/Palestinians pronounce Bethlehm and it's actual local name.


Never knew Jesus was born in the House of Meat. Must have been a town with a lot of butchers or something.

So... in all my years of Sunday school... seminary...etc. I never knew that.
post #2 of 10
huh. interesting.
post #3 of 10
I knew "beyt" is house. It's the same in dh's language (Amharic) and interestingly also in his tribal language which is not an offshoot of Amharic. Must'a picked it up somewhere along the line..

I was aware early on that Jesus wouldn't have pronounced it the English way But my dad is a linguistics nut so I know a lot of that kind of stuff that's trivia to most.
post #4 of 10
Interesting tidbit! Thanks for sharing
post #5 of 10
Not to go off-topic, Umsami, but I think the origin of names is fascinating. I live in Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn is the anglo version of Breukelen (which was the original Dutch name of the area, meaning "broken land"). The British changed the name to Brooklyn when they drove the Dutch out of New York (originally "New Amsterdam").
post #6 of 10
Just passing by the forum, but I had to comment.
The beth part definitely means house. However, the lehem part is up for debate. A commonly assumed meaning for the name is House of Lahmu and Lahamu. Lahmu and Lahamu are a pair of Mesopotamian agricultural deities. This is according to www.etymonline.com. I've also heard lehem comes from lachem meaning bread.
And Bethel, as in the town mentioned in the Bible, means house of God.
post #7 of 10
Yaakov (aka Jacob) buried his wife Rakhel (aka Rachel) on the side of the road in Beit Lekhem (as recorded in Genesis, 35:19).

The original pronunciation is just that, "beit" and "lekhem." And the word "lekhem" in Hebrew means "bread."

So it's "the house of bread."

It was called by that name throughout the intervening millennia-plus of Jewish sovereignty, and was still called "Beit Lekhem" in Jesus' time.

The name didn't change to the Arabic one for another 600-plus years, at least, till the Arabs first arrived in the 7th century.

Just for another perspective.
post #8 of 10
Must have had a lot of bakeries.
post #9 of 10
I think it shouldn't be too big a surprise that the names wouldn't have been pronouced in English but the bakeries vs. butchers thing kinda made me laugh.
post #10 of 10
Another OT name-related trivia tidbit: "Philadelphia"? It's one of the ancient names of the city currently known as Amman, Jordan.
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