The Jews are very silent about this city: nor do I remember that I have read any thing in them concerning it, besides those things which are produced out of the Old Testament; this only excepted, that the Jerusalem Gemarists do confess that the Messias was born there before their times.
|Beth-lehem is a certain town in the land of the Jews, thirty-five furlongs distant from Jerusalem|: and that towards the south.
The father of the ecclesiastical annals, citing these words of Eusebius, |But now, when in the eighteenth year of the empire of Adrian, the war was more vehemently kindled near the town called Beth-lehem (which was very well fortified with all manner of defence, nor was seated far from the city of Jerusalem),| &c.
The interpreter of Eusebius renders, Beth-thera: not illy, however it be not rendered according to the letter: perhaps crept into the word instead of by the carelessness of the copiers. But by what liberty the other should render it Beth-lehem, let himself see. Eusebius doth certainly treat of the city Betar (it is vulgarly written Bitter), of the destruction of which the Jews relate very many things with lamentation: which certainly is scarcely to be reckoned the same with Beth-lehem.
The same father of the annals adds, that Beth-lehem, from the times of Adrian to the times of Constantine, was profaned by the temple of Adonis: for the asserting of which he cites these words of Paulinus: |Hadrianus, supposing that he should destroy the Christian faith by offering injury to the place, in the place of the passion dedicated the image of Jupiter, and profaned Beth-lehem with the temple of Adonis|: as also like words of Jerome: yet, he confesses, the contrary seems to be in Origen against Celsus: and that more true. For Adrian had no quarrel with the Christians, and Christianity, -- but with the Jews, that cursedly rebelled against him.