Season 5 of ‘the Handmaid’s Tale’: What is New Bethlehem?

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Several times in Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale, Commander Lawrence mentions New Bethlehem. This concept of Lawrence’s has been somewhat vaguely described thus far in the series. When he mentioned the notion with Warren Putnam, however, Putnam was not particularly enthusiastic about it. Here is what some fans believe New Bethlehem will contain and what we know about the series thus far.

Commander Lawrence proposed the concept of New Bethlehem in Season 5 of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale
Commander Lawrence is a prominent individual in Gilead. He is one of the founders of Gilead and is responsible for establishing the Colonies, where women are forced to clean up poisonous waste until they die. In Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale, he proposes a new plan for Gilead, dubbed “New Bethlehem.”

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Putnam ridicules the notion, stating that Lawrence wishes to reintroduce traitors, criminals, and terrorists into Gilead. However, Lawrence argues that Gilead is in danger if the walls and borders remain closed. Putnam is reluctant about the outside world meddling in Gilead’s affairs, as he is not convinced.

Lawrence aims to reintroduce refugees to Gilead.
So what is New Bethlehem exactly? A Reddit user researched the biblical reference and developed a plausible theory.

“The actual city of Bethlehem was destroyed by Emperor Hadrian during the Jewish insurrection against the Roman Empire known as the Bar Kokhba revolt. Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine I (the first Christian emperor), rebuilt the entire city two centuries later,” they stated.

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Therefore, I believe that the New Bethlehem plan is to restore the cities that were damaged during the US-Gilead civil war and to allow American refugees to return to the country.

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In the preview for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 8, Lawrence provides additional information on New Bethlehem. He refers to it as a “new settlement,” reassuring June that there will be “no handmaids or hangings” and suggested he may reconnect June with her daughter Hannah there.

New Bethlehem might serve as a tourism destination as well.
New Bethlehem may potentially function as an attraction for tourists. Lawrence might conceivably establish a community that is more pleasant than Gilead. The Republic’s economy would then benefit from the influx of tourists, who would have no idea that women are raped, executions are public, and violence is legal.

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Another Reddit member elaborated, “This is Lawrence’s plan for a more sustainable Gilead.” “At this rate, they will perish; they require people, tourism, and international links for commerce purposes… Lawrence desires to open the borders, permit economic growth, and establish a nation that flourishes rather than stagnates. This will be the case with New Bethlehem.”

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Don’t miss new episodes of Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu every Wednesday.

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