Bethlehem, which means "house of bread," was originally called Ephrath (Genesis 35:16, 19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11). It is located about 5 miles south of Jerusalem, standing at an elevation of about 2,550 feet above the sea, making it 100 feet higher than Jerusalem.'
Bethlehem's (Ephrath) first mention in scripture centers around the burial of Jacob's wife Rachel, who died during labor (Genesis 35:19, 48:7).
Shepherds, watching over their flocks in fields just east of Bethlehem, were the first people told of the birth of Jesus:
" And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manager . . . .