But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you be little among the thousands of Judah…
Bethlehem cannot account for Jesus. Do mangers bring forth Messiahs? Things bring forth after their kind. It is true that genius often arises from lowliest station, and the great human powers seem to make way for themselves through narrowest surroundings.
1. Consider the meaning of this fact, that from the lowliest of peasants sprang the soul that has swayed the mightiest intellects of the world. The moving powers of the eighteen centuries have been themselves moved by Jesus Christ.
2. That out of the most materialistic of religions came the most spiritual of teachers. Judaism clung with almost ferocious tenacity to external signs and symbols.
3. That out of the narrowest of races came the most universal of teachers. The characteristic of Judaism, ancient and modern, is its refusal to recognise the universal element in religion or in humanity.
4. That out of an age which exalted power as supreme, came One who exalted love as supreme in God and in man. The symbol of Rome was the rapacious, unwearied eagle. Military virtues were supreme. The Jews wanted a conquering general as Messiah. Out of such environment and atmosphere came One who exalted the feminine virtues, and proclaimed that the meek should inherit the earth. And as Bethlehem could not produce Christ, it could not confine Christ.
(W. H. P. Faunce.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.