It didn't hit me until much later, even though I studied Hebrew when I was growing up: Bethlehem is "beit lechem" (בית לחם), which means "house of bread." And then I read this: "Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty..."
Coincidence? He was born in Bethlehem, the "house of bread," and then made that statement. I'm sure there are more bread references in the Bible, but I'm sort of too lazy to find them or think too deeply about it.
Well I suppose its resonance is much more appealing in Hebrew, 'Bethlehem'. Because if it were in French, few, I'm sure, would want to rush to the city gates of Maison-de-Pain! However I may be tempted to at least visit the city should it be named something similar to Maison-de-Chocolat. House-of-Bread also doesn't exactly sound like your typical city name in English, either. This all reminds me of the toponyms we commonly use without REALLY thinking about what they mean. For example, in my home town of Calgary, Alberta, the names of many of several of our boulevards and other major roads reflect First Nations culture/influence. For example, you'll find Deer Foot Trail, Nose Hill Drive, Black Foot Trail, Shaganappi Trail. And do you think I ever assessed these names from a linguistic standpoint? Not really. It was just what you called them!
That said, MJ, you make a very interesting observation regarding toponyms and biblical references.
Or I guess it could be called "bread house" in English, since there's no "of" in the Hebrew version. Maybe I was subconsciously Francophoning (not a word, I know) the English meaning, since French loves the use of "de" in everything while English cuts out that step.
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