But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
Consult any history book and the author will point you to the great centers of civilization in antiquity: Rome, Athens, Tenochtitlan, the Indus River Valley, China. Nowhere in any ancient estimation would it be said that the fulcrum of the world was to be found in a hardscrabble little village of washed-up dreams out on the eastern fringe of Augustus’ realm. Bethlehem had had its little moment in the sun, politically, a thousand years before, because it was the birthplace of David (an obscure Semitic monarch who meant a great deal to one of the insignificant little ethnic groups that buzzed like flies somewhere on the borders of Roman political consciousness). But let’s face it: Jewish nostalgia for David had about as much to do with hope as some tribe of Bantus dream of achieving world military domination. So why did the Jews hang on? Because God promised. And tonight, against all hope, the promise came true. The King was born.