According to ancient tradition, the shepherds received the tidings of the Nativity in a valley in Beit Sahour where they were keeping watch over their herd at night. An angel said to them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall .find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger”. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”. And as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” (Luke 2:8-15).
Southeast of Bethlehem lies the city of the Shepherd’s, Beit Sahour. It contains one of the most holy sites to Christians, The Shepherd’s Field. It is believed that there the angels first announced the birth of Jesus Christ. Each of the Roman Catholics and the Greek Orthodox have their Shepherd’s Field. The Roman Catholic Church is built by the Franciscans in 1953 over the remains of a monastery that dates back to the 5th century. As for the Greek Orthodox site is a church built on a cave that dates back to the 5th century. The church lies in a small valley with Olive Trees some dating back 2000 years.
The exact location of the appearance of the angels to the shepherds is unknown, but several sites have been venerated by Christians at different periods. St. Jerome believed the field to be identical with that in which Jacob had spread his tent beyond the Tower of Eder (Genesis 35, 21). He also tells us that the tower lies about a thousand paces east of Bethlehem. Arnulfus, a French bishop who traveled to the Holy Land and toured it for about nine months, related to his host of Iona that he himself visited a church, which contained the tombs of the three shepherds. For centuries a monastery stood on the spot, but there is no mention of a cave until the Crusaders’ time. The history of the site centered on two locations: one is in the care of the Greek Orthodox Church known as Der Er-Ra’wat, while the other is maintained by the Franciscans and known as Der Es-Siar.
Beyond Shepherd’s Field to the east is the Field of Boaz (or Field of Ruth). Ruth is a Moabite woman from east of the Dead Sea, is one of the few women to have a book named after her in the Old Testament. She is celebrated especially for her statement of devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi. The “Field of Ruth” was the field of Boaz, a wealthy landowner. She met him while gathering up the barley left behind by the harvesters. They married and she became the great-grandmother of King David.