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Beit Sahour
   
submitted by Turathuna Bethlehem University
23.01.2007

The town of Beit Sahour lies on the eastern border of the town of Bethlehem. Its nomenclature reportedly stems from the good tidings the Magi gave to the Shepherds watching their flocks by night. The name means Shepherds' Village.

In the past the Canaanites inhabited its numerous caves. In the middle of the thirteenth century Al-'Ajajiah took shelter in Beit Sahour. They comprised the two families of Hindi and Abu Ghantur who came from Wadi Musa in Jordan. Afterwards the Jaraysah came consisting of the two families of Shomali and Salsa'. Numerous families followed them later.

The population of Beit Sahour was estimated to be 600 in 1907. In 1914 their numbers reached 1713, consisting of 1161 Greek Orthodox, 308 Muslims, 117 Latins, 89 Anglicans and 38 Greek Catholic.

According to the Jordanian census of 1916 the population was 5316, including 100 refugees from the 1948 war. In 1981 the number reached about 10000.

The town of Beit Sahour is famous for the internationally known Shepherds' Field, which lies on the eastern end of the town where the angels appeared bringing the good tidings of Christ's birth and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

In this field there is an old Church almost under the ground. The Greek Orthodox has erected a modern church over it. To the north east of this church there is another field on which the Latins have built a modern church. Owing to the several cruel events that befell the region, many have emigrated to the Americas and other places.

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