BET(H) LEḤEM (Ha-Gelilit), place located in western Galilee, near Kiryat Tivon, in the lower Zebulun region (Jos. 19:15; perhaps also Judges 12:8f.). It is referred to as Beth-Leḥem Ẓeriyah (TJ, Meg. 1, 70a), however this name has not yet been given a definitive explanation. Dalman believes that it means the Beth Leḥem which once belonged to Tyre. According to the list of priestly places of residence in Galilee, members of the Malkiya priestly division lived in Beth Leḥem in the 3rd and 4th centuries; it may also have been the home of the amora Kahana bar Malkiya (of the Malkiya priestly division). The biblical name was preserved by an Arab site called Beit Laḥm, southeast of Haifa. At present there is a moshav affiliated with Tenu'at ha-Moshavim near the site. This was founded in 1948 on the land of the former German Templar colony Bethlehem whose inhabitants were interned during World War II and later deported from the country. The population was composed of immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe and native-born Israelis. Its population in 1968 was 270, rising to around 425 in the mid-1990s and 570 in 2002. The moshav's residents earned their living in farming, tourism, and employment outside the moshav.
IDB, 1 (1962), S.V. Bethlehem, no. 2; Enẓiklopediyah le-Geografiyah Mikra'it 1 (1963), 281–2.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.