Please come with me to Gen 35, where we find the first time that Bet-Lechem is mentioned. The events in this chapter are immediately following the incident with Dinah and Shechem. The ecclesia was under threat of being destroyed through intermarriage with the idol worshipping inhabitants of Shechem. Through the providential hand of the Father, Simeon & Levi took matters into their own hand, forcing a situation where seperation was once again restored.
Having been prepared by these events, Yahweh tells Jacob and his sons to leave highland plains and move south up into the mountains of Bet El. Before leaving, Jacob cleanses his household from there idols, washes and re-cloths them. This in itself is great exhortation to us! The father is to be held in great reverence, and all who go before him must separate and purge themselves before coming into his presence.
In verse 10, Elohim renames Jacob (which means the overcomer) and calls him Israel (prince with EL). Israel then receives the promise that his father did in verse 11.
Gen 35:19 – “And Elohim said unto him, I am El Shaday: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;”
El Shaday literally means the mighty breast – the male and female breast – describing the mothering and fathering characteristics found in the most high; El Shaday is always used in association with the building up of a family. This phrase “be fruitful and multiply” is taken directly from Genesis 1 versus 22 and 28, where Yahweh commands the animals and man to be fruitful and fill the earth. A command which was repeated to Noah, and again repeated to Abraham (with the difference that it is the passive sense, Yahweh will now do the multiplying, he will not leave it up to the people), and again in this chapter it is repeated to jacob.
Bethlehem is the typical fulfilling of that commandment in Genesis as we can see in verse 16:
:16 – And they journeyed from Beth–el; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath (I will make her fruitful): and Rachel (a ewe lamb) travailed, and she had hard labour.
scripture is drawing to our attention the two names of bet lechem. we see this again in verse 19, “the way to Ephratah, which is Bet Lechem”, and there is an even closer link in Micah “Bet–lehem Ephratah”. Ephratah, is from the same root word parah פרה, as is the “multiply and fruitful” in verse 19. When we put these words together, as they are in Micah we get a sentence:
“I will make her to carry children, a household of bread”
This house of bread is the fulfilment of the promises to the fathers of old, the original plan of the Father in Genesis.