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Micah 5:2 – Beit-Lechem: The House of Bread

Updated: Jun 23

כִּי לֹא עַל־הַלֶּחֶם לְבַדֹּו יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם כִּי עַל־כָּל־מֹוצָא פִי־יְהוָה יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם

“…man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of HaShem.” Deuteronomy  8:3

Amarna Tablet

It is strange that such a small city has made such an immense impact. Even by today’s standards, Bethlehem is little, with a population of approximately 25,000. Yet its name graces everything from the pages of newspapers and articles to hymnals and songs all over the world.  Its history is amazingly rich and incredibly ancient. Bethlehem mentioned in the Amarna tablets (1300BCE), which recorded the correspondence between ancient Egypt and the Canaanites. The Matriarch Rachel is buried near there at Migdal Eder, and although its name means “House of Bread,” it experienced a famine forcing Naomi and her family to flee to Moab, triggering a series of events that lead to the marriage of the Moabitess Ruth to Boaz. This marriage led to the most important genealogy in the history of humanity. Bethlehem is the birthplace of King David and the King Messiah himself,

“Now when Yeshua was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he who is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him.When King Herod heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Messiah would be born. They said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is written through the prophet, ‘You Bethlehem, land of Judah, are in no way least among the princes of Judah: for out of you shall come forth a governor, who shall shepherd my people, Israel.” Matthew 2:1-6


The book of Matthew is quoting the Prophet Micah which says,

וְאַתָּה בֵּית־לֶחֶם אֶפְרָתָה צָעִיר לִהְיֹות בְּאַלְפֵי יְהוּדָה מִמְּךָ לִי יֵצֵא לִהְיֹות מֹושֵׁל בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל וּמֹוצָאֹתָיו מִקֶּדֶם מִימֵי עֹולָם׃

“But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, being small among the clans of Judah, out of you one will come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old (mi’Kedem), from the days of old.” Micah 5:2

The phrase ‘from days of old’ refers to the Six Days of Creation. The Talmud says,

“Seven things were created before the world was created, and these are they: The Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah. The Torah, for it is written, “The Lord made me [the Torah] as the beginning of his way.” Repentance, for it is written, “Before the mountains were brought forth,” and it is written, “You turn man to contrition, and say, Repent, ye children of men.” The Garden of Eden, as it is written, ‘And the Lord planted a garden in Eden from aforetime (mi’Kedem).” The Gehenna, for it is written, “For Tophet [Gehenna] is ordered of old.” The Throne of Glory and the Temple, for it is written, “You throne of glory, on high from the beginning, You place of our sanctuary.” The name of the Messiah, as it is written, “His [the Messiah’s] name shall endure for ever, and has existed before the sun!” Pesachim 54a, Soncino Press Edition

Rashi, R’ Shlomo Yitzhaki (1040 – 1105CE), commenting on Micah 5 states,

“and his origin is from of old: “Before the sun his name is Yinnon” (Ps. 72:17). Rashi on Micah 5, cited at

The name ‘Yinon’ is spelled with the letters yud-nun-vav-nun. The Maharsha, R’ Shmuel Eidels (1555 – 1631 CE), comments that these letters are an allusion to the name of yud-kei-vav-kei, as Jeremiah 23 states that the name of Mashiach is HaShem Tzidkeinu,

“Behold, the days come, says HaShem, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name by which he shall be called: HaShem our righteousness.” Jeremiah 23:5-6

The Talmud section called ‘the Boat’ comments,

“R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Johanan: Three were called by the name of the Holy One; blessed be He, and they are the following: The righteous, the Messiah and Jerusalem. [This may be inferred as regards] the righteous [from] what has just been said. [As regards] the Messiah it is written: And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness. [As regards] Jerusalem it is written: It shall be eighteen thousand reeds round about; and the name of the city from that day shall be ‘the Lord is there.’ Do not read, ‘there’ but ‘its name’.” Bava Batra 75b, Soncino Press Edition


Lamentations says,

“For these things I weep; my eye, my eye runs down with water; Because the Comforter who should refresh my soul is far from me: My children are desolate, because the enemy has prevailed.” Lamentations 1:16

Commenting on this passage, the Midrash identifies the name of the Messiah as Menachem, the Comforter, and speaks of his birth in Bethlehem,

“BECAUSE THE COMFORTER IS FAR FROM ME, EVEN HE THAT SHOULD REFRESH MY SOUL. What is the name of King Messiah? R. Abba b. Kahana said: His name is ‘the Lord’; as it is stated, ‘And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness (Jer 23:6).’ For R. Levi said: It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king, and the name of its king is identical with that of its God. ‘It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king,’ as it is written, ‘And the name of the city from that day shall be the Lord is there’ (Ezek. 48:35). And the name of its king identical with that of its God, as it is stated, ‘And this is the name whereby he shall be called, ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ R. Joshua b. Levi said: His name is ‘Shoot’; as it is stated, “Behold, a man whose name is Shoot, and who shall shoot up out of his place, and build the temple of the Lord (Zech 4:12)”. R. Judan said in the name of R. Aibu: His name is ‘Comforter’; as it is said, “THE COMFORTER IS FAR FROM ME.” R. Hanina said: They do not really differ, because the numerical value of the names is the same, so that ‘Comforter’ (Menachem) is identical with Shoot (Tzemach). The following supports the saying of R. Aibu: “It happened that a man was plowing, when one of his oxen lowed. An Arab passed by and asked, “What are you?” He answered, “I am a Jew.” He said to him, ”Unharness your ox and untie your plough’ [as a mark of mourning].’ Why? ‘ he asked. ‘Because the Temple of the Jews is destroyed.” He inquired, “From where do you know this?” He answered, “I know it from the lowing of your ox.” While he was conversing with him, the ox lowed again. The Arab said to him, ‘”Harness your ox and tie up your plough, because the deliverer of the Jews is born.” “What is his name?” he asked, and he answered, “His name is (Menachem) “Comforter”. “What is his father’s name?” He answered, ‘Hezekiah.’ Where do they live? ‘ He answered, ”In Birath Arba, in Bethlehem of Judah.” Lamentations Rabbah 1:51, Soncino Press Edition

The Jerusalem Talmud, in Berachot 25b, echoes this tradition closely, but says,

מן בירת מלכא דבית לחם יהודה

“From Biryat Malka in Beit-Lechem of Yehudah” Talmud Yerushalmi, Berachot 25b


“But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, being small among the clans of Judah, out of you one will come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old (mi’Qedem), from the days of old.” Micah 5:2

The prophet Micah tells us Messiah is from ‘mi’Qedem’ (from the ancient, or from the East). The term mi'Qedem indicates the location of the Garden of Eden,

“HaShem Elokim formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. HaShem Elokim planted a garden eastward (mi’Qedem), in Eden, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” Genesis 2:7-8

Mashiach is coming from the Garden of Eden to Bethlehem. R’ Yosef Gikatilla (1248 – 1305 CE) connects these two verses in Sharei Orah, revealing a deep understanding of the word Qedem,

“…the Sphere KeTeR, which is called EHYE, preceded everything, and all the Spheres were contained in it before the world was created, and when it ascended in thought to create the world the mysteries of the Spheres were revealed from the hidden dimension of KeTeR, therefore it was called KeDeM, which precedes everything, for it is the Sphere from which all the mysteries of the other Spheres are revealed. Let me explain. And YHVH ELoHIM planted a garden from KeDeM. (Genesis 2:8) The essence of what was planted in the garden was planned in EDeN and planted in the garden. This means that: The plantings are planted in the garden and the garden is planted in EDeN which is the essence of the true and complete unity. From where are the plantings, the garden and EDeN revealed? From KeDeM, from the highest KeTeR. “And YHVH ELoHIM planted a garden in EDeN” – from where did he plant? From KeDeM. And all is now explained. Thus it is intimated: One whose origin is from KeDeM, from the days of the world. (Micah 5:1) His origins are most certainly from KeDeM, for it is from KeDeM that the emanation of thought and the essence of the revealing of the Spheres came forth.” Sha’are Orah, Gates of Light, R’ Yosef Gikatilla, Translated by Avi Weinstein, HarperCollins Publishers, pg. 362

R’ Chaim Kramer of the Breslov Research Institute explains,

“…Keter (Arikh Anpin), is the loftiest Partzuf. But, the ARI writes, Keter actually has two levels, a lower level corresponding to Arikh Anpin and an upper level, the intellect of Arikh Anpin, which corresponds to Atik. . . The connection between Mashiach and Atik is learned from Daniel’s vision: “A man came and he approached [the level of] the Ancient of Days…” Rashi explains this will refer to Mashiach, who will minister justice to the entire world. . . Atik includes all time and space – yet transcends it all. The soul of Mashiach “resides” within Atik, and it is from this level that all his powers will be drawn. And, since he transcends time and space, Mashiach can transcend every transgression ever committed and rectify it – for since he can transcend everything ever done, he can bring each person to a state prior to his having sinned. . . With the power inherent in this exalted level, Mashiach will be able to bring the world to a state of perfection.” Mashiach, Who, What, Why, How, Where, When, by Chaim Kramer, Breslov Research Institute, pg. 209

Pesikta Rabbati says,

“You find that at the very beginning of creation of the world, the king Messiah had already come into being, for he existed in God’s thought even before the world was created.. . where is the proof that the King Messiah existed from the beginning of God’s creation of the world? The proof is in the verse, ‘And the spirit of God moved, words which identify the king Messiah, of whom it is said, “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (Isa 11:2).” Pesikta Rabbati 33.6, translated by R’ William Braude, Yale University Press, pgs. 641-642

Yeshua said on the night before he returned to the Garden,

“Now, Father, glorify me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world existed.” John 17:5

Bread from Heaven

When one is about to eat a meal that includes bread, the traditional blessing is said,

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן הָאָרֶץ

Barukh atah HaShem, Elokeinu Melech HaOlam ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz.” Blessed are you, O HaShem our G-d, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Proverbs says,

“Come, eat some of my bread, Drink some of the wine which I have mixed!” Proverbs 9:5

The Midrash Rabbah identifies the bread,

 “Bread” refers to the Torah, as it says, ‘Come, eat of my bread (Prov. 9:5)” Midrash Rabbah 70:5, Soncino Press Edition

Before the sun was created, even before the Six Days of Creation, the Messiah existed. He came from the Garden to Bethlehem. He was brought forth from the earth, resurrected, in a Garden (John 19:41). It is he who reveals to us this secret,

אָנֹכִי הוּא לֶחֶם הַחַיִּים

“I am the Bread of Life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” John 6:48-51

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