Did people in that time use “miles” or some other term of measurement like leagues? Was it really that far from Nazareth to Bethlehem?
Among the lengths of measure used in the Bible
mile, Matt 5:41, from the Greek milion, which among the Romans was the distance of 1000 paces, which is somewhat less than our mile.
And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. *
*The footnote to verse 16 says, Gr, stadia. A stadium was about 607 English feet or 185.2 meters.
—Let’s pause at this point to make a couple of statements. From Luke 24:13 the distance from Jerusalem to Emmaus was threescore furlongs or about seven of our miles.
However, the measurements given for the New Jerusalem are astounding!
12,000 furlongs times 607 feet/furlong = 7,284,000 feet, or 1380 miles! If placed in the western United States, the New Jerusalem would extend from San Francisco to St. Louis, and would be 1380 miles high! (The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal) 1380 miles is about 65% of the diameter of the moon.
Can you imagine what an impact on the conditions on the earth such a city would make? It would change the center of mass of the earth so that it would wobble on its axis. It would drastically change all the climatic conditions on the earth. How could you ever get elevators to take you up 1380 miles? The city would have to be hermetically sealed in order to contain an atmosphere. However, it’s in the scriptures and I believe it. Further, I don’t have a problem with it. The scriptures do not say that the New Jerusalem will be ON the earth. Verse 10 says that the New Jerusalem will descend out of heaven. It doesn’t say that it will even touch the earth. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.
So let’s suppose that the New Jerusalem will be a near-earth orbiting satellite–such as the moon. Being it orbit around the earth it will experience no gravity. People in the city was be as weightless as are the Shuttle astronauts. NO PROBLEM!—
Now, back to business—
reed, six cubits or 36.75 feet.
span, the distance from the point of the thumb to the point of the little finger of a stretched out hand. The zereth, or large span was 10.5 inches and the small span 7 inches.
And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an hand breadth: so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed. Ezek 40:5
Exercise for the reader–reconstruct the house described in Ezek. 40.
Sabbath day’s journey, Acts 1:12, 4000 cubits, or about 1.3 miles.
The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is about 70 miles as the crow flies.