Beit Sahour (Arabic: بيت ساحور pronounced Bayt Saahoor (help·info)) (lit. Place of the Night Watch) is a Palestinian town east of Bethlehem under the administration of the Palestinian National Authority. The population of 12,367, is Christian and Muslim.There are two enclosures in the eastern part of Beit Sahour which are claimed by different Christian denominations to be the actual 'Shepherds Field': one belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church and the other, the Catholic site, to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.The name Beit Sahur belongs to two places in the vicinity: Beit Sahur al-Atiqah ("ancient Beit Sahur") and Beit Sahur an-Nasara ("Beit Sahur of the Christians").
16th century Arab geographer Mujir al-Din mentions the former in a biography of a Muslim scholar Sha'ban bin Salim bin Sha'ban, who died in the town in 1483 at the age of 105. The former was noted by French geographer Guerin as being 40 minutes away from Jerusalem, a short distance south of the Qidron Valley.Beit Sahur al-Atiqah surrounded the tomb of Sheikh Ahmad al-Sahuri, a local saint to whom the local Arab tribe of al-Sawahirah attribute their name. The Sawahirah originate from the Hejaz and entered Palestine through al-Karak. The Survey of Western Palestine describes the town as "Ruins of a village with wells and a mukam."
The modern Beit Sahur was described by the same survey as "sort of a suburb of Bethlehem, situated on the same ridge, with the broad plateau east of it known as the 'Shepherd's Field'".In 1596, Beit Sahour appeared in Ottoman tax registers as two villages in the Nahiya of Quds of the Liwa of Quds. Beit Sahour an-Nasara had a population of 15 Muslim households and 9 bachelors. Beit Sahour al-Wadi (identified as Beit Sahour al-Atiqa) had a population of 40 Muslim households. The two villages paid taxes on wheat, barley, vines or fruit trees, and goats or beehives.Watch Beit Sahour Video: Beit Sahour, A living Heritage