What is the “Way of the Patriarchs”? It is the ancient path through the Land of Israel that our forefathers traveled when they made their way from the south to the north; from the Negev and the Judean Desert, all the way up to the Galilee. Imagine Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; picture Joseph the Righteous, dream of Jesus and others from history all journeying on the "Way of the Patriarchs".
This was the ancient equivalent of a “highway". At first, people traveled here by foot or on donkeys, while later they rode camels, horses, and elephants. Countless biblical stories take place along this holy path. The Way of the Patriarchs begins in the Negev, travels up the back of the Judean then crosses through Jerusalem Israel’s capital and Samarian mountains, before finally reaching Jezreel Valley and climbing up the Mountains of Nazareth. Today this path is known as Road 60 and the majority of it still serves as a highway, albeit a more modern one.
Join us on this journey and follow our forefathers, as together we travel across the Land of Israel.
22 "And it came to pass at that time that Abimelech and Phichol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do. 23 Now therefore, swear[a] to me by God that you will not deal falsely with me, with my offspring, or with my posterity; but that according to the kindness that I have done to you, you will do to me and to the land in which you have dwelt.”
24 And Abraham said, “I will swear.”
25 Then Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water which Abimelech’s servants had seized. 26 And Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor had I heard of it until today.” 27 So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a [b]covenant. 28 And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
29 Then Abimelech asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves?”
30 And he said, “You will take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that they may be my witness that I have dug this well.” 31 Therefore he called that place [c]Beersheba, because the two of them swore an oath there.
32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba. So Abimelech rose with Phichol, the commander of his army, and they returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines many days".
Beersheba is mainly dealt with in the Hebrew Bible in connection with the Patriarchs Abraham and Isaac, who both dig a well and close peace treaties with King Abimelech of Gerar at the site. Hence it receives its name twice, first after Abraham's dealings with Abimelech (Genesis 21:22-34), and again from Isaac who closes his own covenant with Abimelech of Gerar and whose servants also dig a well there (Genesis 26:23-33).
Beersheba is further mentioned in following Bible passages: Isaac built an altar in Beersheba (Genesis 26:23–33). Jacob had his dream about a stairway to heaven after leaving Beersheba. (Genesis 28:10–15 and 46:1–7). Beersheba was the territory of the tribe of Simeon and Judah (Joshua 15:28 and 19:2). The sons of the prophet Samuel were judges in Beersheba (I Samuel 8:2). Saul, Israel's first king, built a fort there for his campaign against the Amalekites (I Samuel 14:48 and 15:2–9). The prophet Elijah took refuge in Beersheba when Jezebel ordered him killed (I Kings 19:3). The prophet Amos mentions the city in regard to idolatry (Amos 5:5 and 8:14). Following the Babylonian conquest and subsequent enslavement of many Israelites, the town was abandoned. After the Israelite slaves returned from Babylon, they resettled the town. According to the Hebrew Bible, Beersheba was the southernmost city of the territories settled by Israelites, hence the expression "from Dan to Beersheba" to describe the whole kingdom.
Zibiah, the consort of King Ahaziah of Judah and the mother of King Jehoash of Judah, was from Beersheba.
Tel Be’er Sheva: the area in which the forefathers of the Jewish nation (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) lived and worked, is an important biblical tel – one of three from the days of the Bible that UNESCO has included in its list of world heritage sites.
The well in Tel Be'er Sheva: one of the deepest in Israel (69 m), going down to the level of the groundwater. The well was dug outside but close to the city gate.
"Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.
3 Then Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, 4 “I am a foreigner and a visitor among you. Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”
5 And the sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, 6 “Hear us, my lord: You are a [a]mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places. None of us will withhold from you his burial place, that you may bury your dead.”
7 Then Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the people of the land, the sons of Heth. 8 And he spoke with them, saying, “If it is your wish that I bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and [b]meet with Ephron the son of Zohar for me, 9 that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he has, which is at the end of his field. Let him give it to me at the full price, as property for a burial place among you.”
10 Now Ephron dwelt among the sons of Heth; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the presence of the sons of Heth, all who entered at the gate of his city, saying, 11 “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field and the cave that is in it; I give it to you in the presence of the sons of my people. I give it to you. Bury your dead!”
12 Then Abraham bowed himself down before the people of the land; 13 and he spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, “If you will give it, please hear me. I will give you money for the field; take it from me and I will bury my dead there.”
14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, 15 “My lord, listen to me; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver. What is that between you and me? So bury your dead.” 16 And Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out the silver for Ephron which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, currency of the merchants.
17 So the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, which were within all the surrounding borders, were deeded 18 to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city.
19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave that is in it were deeded to Abraham by the sons of Heth as property for a burial place." Genesis 23
"29 Then he charged them and said to them: “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth.” 33 And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people." Genesis 49
Jewish presence in Hebron dates back over 3,800 years. The Bible elaborately relates Abraham's purchase of the field and cave of Machpela. This is the first Jewish acquisition in the Land of Israel. The founders of the Jewish nation are buried here.
Around 2,000 years ago, Herod, king of Judea, built the structure atop the cave complex - the only intact building from that era. Today, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs attracts countless people from around the world.
32 "Then Judas marched away from the citadel and encamped at Beth-zechariah, opposite the camp of the king. 33 Early in the morning the king set out and took his army by a forced march along the road to Beth-zechariah, and his troops made ready for battle and sounded their trumpets. 34 They offered the elephants the juice of grapes and mulberries, to arouse them for battle. 35 They distributed the animals among the phalanxes; with each elephant they stationed a thousand men armed with coats of mail, and with brass helmets on their heads; and five hundred picked horsemen were assigned to each beast. 36 These took their position beforehand wherever the animal was; wherever it went, they went with it, and they never left it. 37 On the elephants[k] were wooden towers, strong and covered; they were fastened on each animal by special harness, and on each were four[l] armed men who fought from there, and also its Indian driver. 38 The rest of the cavalry were stationed on either side, on the two flanks of the army, to harass the enemy while being themselves protected by the phalanxes. 39 When the sun shone on the shields of gold and brass, the hills were ablaze with them and gleamed like flaming torches.
40 Now a part of the king’s army was spread out on the high hills, and some troops were on the plain, and they advanced steadily and in good order. 41 All who heard the noise made by their multitude, by the marching of the multitude and the clanking of their arms, trembled, for the army was very large and strong. 42 But Judas and his army advanced to the battle, and six hundred of the king’s army fell. 43 Now Eleazar, called Avaran, saw that one of the animals was equipped with royal armor. It was taller than all the others, and he supposed that the king was on it. 44 So he gave his life to save his people and to win for himself an everlasting name. 45 He courageously ran into the midst of the phalanx to reach it; he killed men right and left, and they parted before him on both sides. 46 He got under the elephant, stabbed it from beneath, and killed it; but it fell to the ground upon him and he died. 47 When the Jews[m] saw the royal might and the fierce attack of the forces, they turned away in flight." 1 Maccabees 6
The Battle of Beit Zechariah, which took place 2,000 years ago during the Maccabean Revolt, is one of sacrifice and bravery.
The Maccabean Revolt took place between 167 BCE and 160 BCE after the ancient Greek King Antiochus the Wicked (IV) issued decrees forbidding Jewish religious practice.
A battle to save Jerusalem and the Jewish people, which echoes the battle for Gush Etzion that took place in 1948 just prior to and during the War of Independence.
More than two thousand years ago, in 164 BCE, Elazar the Maccabee sacrificed himself for the Jewish people. The Greeks came from the south where they had surrounded Beit Tzur. The battle took place between Beit Zechariah and Beit Tzur. According to the book of the Maccabees, Judah the Maccabee had laid siege to [Greek Fortress] Akra in Jerusalem [which overlooked the Temple Mount], but he lifted his siege and marched to the narrow passageway which was the direct road to Jerusalem and directly in the path of the Syrian-Greek army who were marching to Jerusalem.
The Greek Army used elephants and infantry for battle, and Elazar charged towards one of the elephants and thrust a spear into the elephant’s belly and pierced, killing it, but the dead elephant fell upon Elazar, and he too was killed.
The Maccabees were victorious against the Greeks during the Battle of Beit Zechariah and this eventually led to their victory in recapturing Jerusalem and rededication of the Temple.
After winning the battle [in Jerusalem], Judah was asked by Syrian commander Lysias, ‘what can we do to bring peace?’ He told them that what he would like is the return of Jewish autonomy, and allow the practice of Judaism as was done before,” he said. “Lysius answered Judah, ‘I realize you have been upset by the decrees of Antiochus V, we will abolish these decrees and we will return Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel.’”
"The Sages taught: Once all the Jewish people ascended for the pilgrimage Festival to Jerusalem and there was not enough water for them to drink. Nakdimon ben Guryon, one of the wealthy citizens of Jerusalem, went to a certain gentile officer [hegemon] and said to him: Lend me twelve wells of water for the pilgrims, and I will give back to you twelve wells of water. And if I do not give them to you, I will give you twelve talents of silver. And the officer set him a time limit for returning the water". The Talmud Masechet Ta’anit 19b.
In the days of the Second Temple King Herod installed many structures that required a large amount of water such as pools and bathhouses. In connection with the growth of the city, a severe water shortage was created, which can be found in the Talmud.
The Ancient Biyar Aqueduct in the Judean Hills is a 2,000-year-old aqueduct, known as the Biyar, which would bring natural spring water to collecting pools south of Bethlehem and then to Jerusalem".
Just below the modern Israeli town of Efrat (named after the biblical Efrat) is a 2,000-year-old aqueduct called the Biyar, which would bring natural spring water to collecting pools (south of Bethlehem, known as Solomon’s Pools) and then on to Jerusalem. With a combination of brilliant technology and great determination, the Hasmoneans – and later King Herod and Pontius Pilate – were able to bring large amounts of fresh spring water from over 20 km away to provide Jerusalem with enough for fountains; drinking water for large numbers of Olei Regel (pilgrims), who would come to Jerusalem for all the festivals; ritual baths (mikva’ot), so they could be purified before going to the Holy Temple, and more. This water system was so successful that it was renovated and reused by different powers throughout the generations until 1967, when alternative water sources were used. This same system also provided water to the Herodian (one of Herod the Great’s Palaces and, ultimately, his burial place) to the east.
The water from the Biyar would go through what was known as the Upper Aqueduct to the Mamilla Pool (just outside the Old City) and eventually to Herod’s Palace and to the city itself.
18 "Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron; 19 Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; 20 Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon;[h] 21 Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; 22 Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David". Ruth 4
Sde Boaz (Boaz's Field) is an Israeli Jewish community it falls under the jurisdiction of Gush Etzion Regional Council. It is named after Boaz from the Book of Ruth. Located 1000M above sea level, Above the fields of Bethlehem an amazing view in its beauty. To the east you can see the Judean Desert and the Moabian mountains and to the west you can see the lowlands and the Mediterranean Sea. When Boaz and Ruth wanted some romance, there is no doubt that they came up here to watch the sunset or wake up at sunrise.
19 "So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)". Genesis 35
7 "But as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died beside me in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).” Genesis 35
11 "And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem." Ruth 4
12 "Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehem Judah, whose name was Jesse, and who had eight sons. And the man was old, advanced in years, in the days of Saul." 1 samuel 17
4 So Samuel did what the Lord said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?”
5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Sanctify[a] yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!”
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have [b]refused him. For[c] the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
8 So Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.”
And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not [d]sit down till he comes here.” 12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with [e]bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah." 1 Samuel 16
Archaeological confirmation of Bethlehem as a city in the Kingdom of Judah was uncovered in 2012 at the archaeological dig at the City of David in the form of a bulla (seal impression in dried clay) in ancient Hebrew script that reads "From the town of Bethlehem to the King," indicating[ that it was used to seal the string closing a shipment of grain, wine, or other goods sent as a tax payment in the 8th or 7th century BC.
Bethlehem, located in the "hill country" of Judah, may be the same as the Biblical Ephrath, which means "fertile", as there is a reference to it in the Book of Micah as Bethlehem Ephratah. The Bible also calls it Beth-Lehem Judah, and the New Testament describes it as the "City of David".It is first mentioned in the Tanakh and the Bible as the place where the matriarch Rachel died and was buried "by the wayside" (Gen. 48:7). Rachel's Tomb, the traditional grave site, stands at the entrance to Bethlehem. According to the Book of Ruth, the valley to the east is where Ruth of Moab gleaned the fields and returned to town with Naomi. It was the home of Jesse, father of King David of Israel, and the site of David's anointment by the prophet Samuel. It was from the well of Bethlehem that three of his warriors brought him water when he was hiding in the cave of Adullam.
In 326–328 AD, the empress Helena, consort of the emperor Constantius Chlorus, and mother of the emperor Constantine the Great, made a pilgrimage to Syra-Palaestina, in the course of which she visited the ruins of Bethlehem. The Church of the Nativity was built at her initiative over the cave where Jesus was purported to have been born.
18 "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said:
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
And he gave him [a]a tithe of all." Genesis 14
22 "Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22
9"Then David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the City of David." 2 Samuel 5
18 "And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded. 20 Now Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming toward him. So Araunah went out and bowed before the king with his face to the ground.
21 Then Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”
And David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the Lord, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.”
22 Now Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever seems good to him. Look, here are oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood. 23 All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king.”
And Araunah said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.”
24 Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25 And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel." 2 Samuel 24
8 "Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the City of David, which is Zion. 2 Therefore all the men of Israel assembled with King Solomon at the feast in the month of [a]Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3 So all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. 4 Then they brought up the ark of the Lord, the [b]tabernacle of meeting, and all the holy furnishings that were in the tabernacle. The priests and the Levites brought them up. 5 Also King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude. 6 Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim." 1 Kings 8
15 "Now the temple was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. 16 Then the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites and the rest of the descendants of the captivity, celebrated the dedication of this [f]house of God with joy. 17 And they offered sacrifices at the dedication of this house of God, one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 They assigned the priests to their divisions and the Levites to their divisions, over the service of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses." Ezra 6
The story of the City of David began over 3,000 years ago, when King David left the city of Hebron for a small hilltop city known as Jerusalem, establishing it as the unified capital of the tribes of Israel. Years later, David's son, King Solomon, built the First Temple next to the City of David on top of Mount Moriah, the site of the binding of Isaac, and with it, this hilltop became one of the most important sites in the world.
The Second Temple replaced Solomon's Temple (the First Temple), which was destroyed by the Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE, when Jerusalem was conquered and part of the population of the Kingdom of Judah was taken into exile to Babylon.
The Second Temple was originally a rather modest structure constructed by a number of Jewish exile groups returning to the Levant from Babylon under the Achaemenid-appointed governor Zerubbabel. However, during the reign of Herod the Great, the Second Temple was completely refurbished, and the original structure was totally overhauled into the large and magnificent edifices and façades that are more recognizable. Much as the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD as retaliation for an ongoing Jewish revolt. The Second Temple lasted for a total of 585 years.
Modern Jerusalem: Jerusalem is the etrnal capital pf Israel. Jerusalem is by far the largest city in Israel in terms of its population, which at the end of 2019 numbered 936,000.
8 "And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord." Genesis 12
16 "Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” Genesis 28
Beit El – the site where Abraham built an altar to God and called upon the Name of the Lord
Beit El – the site of Jacob’s dream, angels ascending and descending a ladder which reached the heavens
Beit El – the place where God told Jacob that the nations of the world would be blessed through his family
Beit El – where the Lord promised to give the Holy Land of Israel as an inheritance to Abraham, Jacob and their offspring
Beit El – the place where generations of Jews came to pray, as Jacob proclaimed, “This is a house of the Lord, the gate to the heavens”
Beit El – where Judah Maccabee built his army
1 "Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of [a]Elihu, the son of [b]Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3 This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there."
8 Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
9 So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the [c]tabernacle of the Lord. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and [d]wept in anguish. 11 Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”
12 And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. 13 Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!”
15 But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not consider your maidservant a wicked[e] woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.”
17 Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.”
18 And she said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad."
20 So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name [f]Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1
You can find Shilo easily by following the directions contained in the Book of Judges (21:19). North of Bet El, east of the road heading from Bet El to Schem, and south of Levona.
It was at Shilo that the Tabernacle existed for 369 years; where Hana cried out her famous prayer for a child; where Samuel the Prophet heard the word of God; where the smell of incense hung in the air even in the days of the Second Temple. According to the Talmud, the smell of the incense ,which represents hesed (acts of kindness), remained in the air in Shilo long after it had vanished from Jerusalem, even though chronologically the burning of incense ended in Shilo far earlier than Jerusalem. Most Shilo residents will tell you that it's so.
7 "Now when they told Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted his voice and cried out. And he said to them:
“Listen to me, you men of Shechem,
That God may listen to you!
8 “The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them.
And they said to the olive tree,
‘Reign over us!’
9 But the olive tree said to them,
‘Should I cease giving my oil,
With which they honor God and men,
And go to sway over trees?’
10 “Then the trees said to the fig tree,
‘You come and reign over us!’
11 But the fig tree said to them,
‘Should I cease my sweetness and my good fruit,
And go to sway over trees?’
12 “Then the trees said to the vine,
‘You come and reign over us!’
13 But the vine said to them,
‘Should I cease my new wine,
Which cheers both God and men,
And go to sway over trees?’
14 “Then all the trees said to the bramble,
‘You come and reign over us!’
15 And the bramble said to the trees,
‘If in truth you anoint me as king over you,
Then come and take shelter in my shade;
But if not, let fire come out of the bramble
And devour the cedars of Lebanon!’
16 “Now therefore, if you have acted in truth and sincerity in making Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done to him as[a] he deserves— 17 for my father fought for you, risked his life, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian; 18 but you have risen up against my father’s house this day, and killed his seventy sons on one stone, and made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother— 19 if then you have acted in truth and sincerity with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. 20 But if not, let fire come from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem and Beth Millo; and let fire come from the men of Shechem and from Beth Millo and devour Abimelech!” 21 And Jotham ran away and fled; and he went to Beer and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother." The Parable of the Trees, Judges 9.
Mount Gerizim Is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the city of Shechem, and forms the southern side of the valley in which Scechem is situated, the northern side being formed by Mount Ebal. The mountain is one of the highest peaks in Samaria and rises to 881 m (2,890 ft) above sea level, 70 m (230 ft) lower than Mount Ebal. In Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim is held to be the highest, oldest and most central mountain in the world. The mountain is particularly steep on the northern side, is sparsely covered at the top with shrubbery, and lower down there is a spring with a high yield of fresh water.
The mountain is sacred to the Samaritans who regard it, rather than Jerusalem's Temple Mount, as having been the location chosen by God for a holy temple. The mountain continues to be the centre of Samaritan religion to this day, and most Samaritans live in close proximity to Gerizim, mostly in Kiryat Luza, the main village. Passover is celebrated by the Samaritans on Mount Gerizim, who consider it the location where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac. Jews and Christians, on the other hand, consider the location to be Mount Moriah, traditionally identified as the Temple Mount.
The Samaritan village of Kiryat Luza and an Israeli Jewish community, Har Brakha, are situated on the mountain ridge.
When "the citizens of Shechem and the whole house of Millo" were gathered together "by the plain of the pillar" (i.e., the stone set up by Joshua, 24:26; compare Genesis 35:4) "that was in Shechem, to make Abimelech king," from one of the heights of Mount Gerizim Jotham protested against their doing so in the earliest parable, that of the bramble-king. This parable is often repeated at Tu BiShvat and is famous in Israel. His words then spoken were prophetic. There came a recoil in the feelings of the people toward Abimelech, and then a terrible revenge, in which many were slain and the city of Shechem was destroyed by Abimelech (Judg. 9:45). Having delivered his warning, Jotham fled to Beer from the vengeance of Abimelech (9:7-21).
4 "So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the [a]people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. 6 Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as [b]the terebinth tree of Moreh." Genesis 12
18 Then Jacob came [e]safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city. 19 And he bought the parcel of [f]land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. 20 Then he erected an altar there and called it El[g] Elohe Israel." Genesis 33
Shechem was a very ancient commercial center due to its position in the middle of vital trade routes through the region. A very old "Way of the Patriarchs" trade route runs in the north–south-north direction
Shechem first appears in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 12:6–8. Abraham reached the "great tree of Moreh" at Shechem and offered sacrifice nearby. Genesis, Deuteronomy, Joshua and Judges hallow Shechem over all other cities of the land of Israel. Genesis (12:6–7) Abram "built an altar to the Lord who had appeared to him… and had given that land to his descendants" at Shechem. The Bible states that on this occasion, God confirmed the covenant he had first made with Abraham in Harran, regarding the possession of the land of Canaan. In Jewish tradition, the old name was understood in terms of the Hebrew word shékém – "shoulder, saddle", corresponding to the mountainous configuration of the place.
Following the settlement of the Israelites in Canaan after their Exodus from Egypt, according to the biblical narrative, Joshua assembled the Israelites at Shechem and asked them to choose between serving the GOD of Abraham who had delivered them from Egypt, or the false gods which their ancestors had served on the other side of the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land they now lived. The people chose to serve the GOD of the Bible, a decision which Joshua recorded in the Book of the Law of God, and he then erected a memorial stone "under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord" in Shechem. The oak is associated with the Oak of Moreh where Abram had set up camp during his travels in this area.
After Gideon's death, Abimelech was made king (Judges 9:1–45). Jotham, the youngest son of Gideon, made an allegorical speech on Mount Gerizim in which he warned the people of Shechem about Abimelech's future tyranny (Judges 9:7–20). When the city rose in rebellion three years later, Abimelech took it, utterly destroyed it, and burnt the temple of Baal-berith where the people had fled for safety. The city was rebuilt in the 10th century BC and was probably the capital of Ephraim (1 Kings 4). Shechem was the place appointed, after Solomon's death, for the meeting of the people of Israel and the investiture of his son Rehoboam as king; the meeting ended in the secession of the ten northern tribes, and Shechem, fortified by Jeroboam, became the capital of the new kingdom (1 Kings 12:1; 14:17; 2 Chronicles 10:1).
After the kings of Israel moved, first to Tirzah (1 Kings 14:17) and later on to Samaria, Shechem lost its importance, and we do not hear of it until after the fall of Jerusalem (587 BC; Jeremiah 12:5). The events connected with the restoration were to bring it again into prominence. When, on his second visit to Jerusalem, Nehemias expelled the grandson of the high priest Eliashib (probably the Manasse of Josephus, Antiquities, XI, vii, viii) and with him the many Jews, priests and laymen, who sided with the rebel, these betook themselves to Shechem; a schismatic temple was then erected on Mount Garizim and thus Shechem became the "holy city" of the Samaritans. The latter, who were left unmolested while the orthodox Jews were chafing under the heavy hand of Antiochus IV (Antiquities, XII, v, 5, see also Antinomianism in the Books of the Maccabees) and welcomed with open arms every renegade who came to them from Jerusalem (Antiq., XI, viii, 7), fell about 128 BC before John Hyrcanus, and their temple was destroyed (Antiquities, XIII, ix, 1).
18 "Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city. 19 And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. 20 Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel." Genesis 33
5 "So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour." John 4
Jacob's Well also known as Jacob's fountain and Well of Sychar is a deep well constructed from rock that has been associated in religious tradition with Jacob for roughly two millennia. It is situated today inside an Eastern Orthodox church and monastery, in the city of Shechem
The present-day church containing the well has been built close to the archaeological site of Tell Balata, which is thought to be t.
Jacob's Well is mentioned by name once in the New Testament in a passage (John 4:5–6) which says that Jesus "came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the field which Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there." John's Gospel goes on to describe a conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman, which took place while Jesus was resting at the well after a tiring journey (John 4:7–15).
Jacob's Well is located 76 meters (249 ft) from Tell Balata the site of biblical Shechem, in the eastern part of the city of Schechem within the grounds of the Bir Ya'qub monastery. The well is accessed by entering the church on the monastery grounds, and descending the stairs to a crypt where the well still stands.
According to Major Anderson, who visited the site in 1866, the well has "a narrow opening, just wide enough to allow the body of a man to pass through with arms uplifted, and this narrow neck, which is about 4 ft. long, opens into the well itself, which is cylindrically shaped, and opens about 7 ft. 6 in. in diameter. The well and upper part of the well are built of masonry, and the well appears to have been sunk through a mixture of alluvial soil and limestone fragments, till a compact bed of mountain limestone was reached, having horizontal strata which could be easily worked; and the interior of the well presents the appearance of having been lined throughout with rough masonry."
Based on a measurement made in 1935, the total depth of the well is 41 meters (135 ft).
Joseph the Righteous - יוסף הצדיק
25 "Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely [a]visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here. 26 So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." Genesis 50
19 "And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, “God will surely [e]visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you.” Exodus 13
32 "The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred [g]pieces of silver, and which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph." Joshua 24
Joseph's Tomb is a funerary monument located at the eastern entrance to the valley that separates Mounts Gerizim and Ebal, 300 metres northwest of Jacob's Well, on the outskirts of the city of Shechem. It has been venerated throughout the ages by Samaritans, for whom it is the second holiest site, by Jews and by Christians.
The Torah provides four details regarding the traditions surrounding Joseph's remains. The account in Genesis relates that, before his death, he had his brothers swear they would carry his bones out of Egypt to Canaan. He is then said to have been embalmed then placed in a coffin in Egypt. In Exodus, we are told that Moses fulfilled the pledge by taking Joseph's bones with him when he left Egypt. In Joshua, Joseph's bones are said to have been brought from Egypt by the Children of Israel and interred in Shechem.
Joshua's Altar - מזבח יהושע
27 "Then Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, “Keep (remember, obey) all the commandments which I am commanding you today. 2 So it shall be on the day when you cross the Jordan to [enter] the land which the Lord your God gives you, that you shall set up for yourself large stones and coat them with plaster (lime, whitewash). 3 You shall write on the stones all the words of this law when you cross over, so that you may go into the land which the Lord your God gives you, a land [of plenty] [a]flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers has promised you. 4 Now when you cross the Jordan you shall set up these stones on Mount Ebal, just as I am commanding you today and coat them with plaster. 5 There you shall build an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones; you shall not use an iron tool on them. 6 You shall build the altar of the Lord your God with whole [uncut] stones, and offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God; 7 and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there, and shall rejoice before the Lord your God. 8 And you shall write very clearly on the stones all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 27
The Mount Ebal Altar (also called the Joshua's Altar), is an Iron age structure built by the biblical Joshua on the commandments mentioned in the Book of Joshua. In Deuteronomy 27, an instruction is given to build an altar on Mount Ebal, constructed from natural (rather than cut) stones, to place stones there and whiten them with lime, to make peace offerings on the altar, eat there, and write the words of this law on the stone.
In the late 20th century there was a large stone heap found on Mount Ebal; this one was known to locals as el Burnat (Arabic for the Hat), and was found by Adam Zertal. The rectangular building was unlike anything else ever excavated in the Levant. The entire structure was made of whole, uncut fieldstones, which conforms to the command in Exodus 20.
Zertal uncovered the remains of what seems to have been a 2-meter-high ramp leading to the top of the structure, and descending 7 meters to the bottom. On either side of this ramp was a shorter ramp, leading to the ledges on the two sides of the structure. At the bottom of the ramp there were two paved courtyards, one on each side, in which a number of installations and pottery remains were found. This entire complex is surrounded by a very low wall (only 1 meter high).
This ritual complex existed for less than a century, after which it was deliberately covered with stones. This was likely done to both decommission the site and to protect it from being looted or reused. Zertal dated it to around 1140 BCE. Not only does the structure of the building fit with the biblical picture, but certain aspects of the building fit well with other ritual laws and concepts known from the Bible.
Mount Ebal is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the city of Shechrm, and forms the northern side of the valley in which Shechem is situated, the southern side being formed by Mount Gerizim. The mountain is one of the highest peaks in the samarian mountains rises to 940 m (3,080 ft) above sea level, some 60 m (200 ft) higher than Mount Gerizim.
“The kings came and fought,
Then the kings of Canaan fought
In Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo;
They took no spoils of silver..." The Song of Deborah, Judges 5
1"So King Solomon was king over all Israel...7And Solomon had twelve governors over all Israel, who provided food for the king and his household; each one made provision for one month of the year...12 Baana the son of Ahilud, in Taanach, Megiddo, and all Beth Shean, which is beside Zaretan below Jezreel, from Beth Shean to Abel Meholah, as far as the other side of Jokneam;" 1 Kings 4
15 "And this is the reason for the labor force which King Solomon raised: to build the house of the Lord, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer." 1 Kings 9
28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 29 In his days Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went to the aid of the king of Assyria, to the River Euphrates; and King Josiah went against him. And Pharaoh Necho killed him at Megiddo when he confronted him. 30 Then his servants moved his body in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place." 2 Kings 23
14 "For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon." Revelation 16
Megiddo is mentioned twelve times in the Old Testament, ten times in reference to the ancient city of Megiddo, and twice with reference to "the plain of Megiddo", most probably simply meaning "the plain next to the city".
Megiddo was one of the strongest and most important cities of Canaan. The remains of the palaces, temples, gates, and the sophisticated water system of the city are evidence of its great power.
The city gate and Canaanite palace: The main find from the Canaanite period are the city gate (15th century BCE), and the original stone paving from the period that leads to it. Alongside it is the Canaanite palace – the remains of a vast structure of rooms built around a central courtyard. In one of the rooms, spectacular items were found, including gold objects, hundreds of pieces of decorated ivory jewelry, and a washroom paved with shells.
The temple area: An interesting site in the “large section” excavated by the early archaeological expeditions at Megiddo. In this area, the earliest remains of the site were found. The temples were used as a ritual site for some 2000 years, until settlement by the Israelites (12th century BCE). In the large section, which was excavated down to the bedrock, more than 20 layers of settlement were found.
“The Aegean Tomb”: In Gottlieb Schumacher’s excavations, a pit was found above the temple area, in which there were the remains of an underground structure. The structure, which had an arched ceiling, was found empty and it is hard to date it or draw any conclusions as to its use. It appears to have been constructed in the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age, and may have served for ritual purposes, or as a burial chamber.
The city gate: Not far from the Canaanite gate, a city gate from the 10th century BCE was found. The gate was part of the fortifications of the kings of Israel, and appears to have been built in the days of King Ahab. The stables found at two different sites at Megiddo were apparently also built at this time. The buildings are long, and contain evidence associating them with horses, such as troughs, and beams for tethering animals.
Palaces and the Assyrian quarter: Large buildings constructed of ashlar stone were found at Megiddo, which were used by the city governors and were Megiddo’s public buildings. Near the Eastern Palace parts of a residential neighborhood have been excavated, including a four-room house – a building in a style characteristic of Israelite construction during First Temple times. The Southern Palace is a block of public buildings in a style that was common in the 10th century BCE interior, known as bit-hilani (house of pillars). Buildings of this kind have a large courtyard surrounded by rooms built on a number of stories, a magnificent entrance hall, and a large “throne room”. Also from this period is a large round pit, whose walls are faced with rough stone. The excavators found grains of wheat in it, supporting its identification as a public granary.
An Assyrian quarter was also found, with six straight streets. This quarter served as a residential neighborhood after the Assyrian conquest (732 BCE). Nearby, the remains of a magnificent building were found, the only one of its kind in Israel, similar in plan to Assyrian palaces, although on a smaller scale.
The water system: The jewel in the crown at Megiddo is the vast water system, apparently from the days of King Ahab (9th century BCE). The system was intended to bring water into the city without having to go outside the walls. The inhabitants of Megiddo dug a huge shaft, 25 m deep, from which they quarried out a horizontal tunnel that extends 70 m to a spring in a cave outside the city walls. Not far from the shaft of the water system is the “gallery” – the name given to a narrow, hidden passage leading from inside the walls to the spring at the foot of the city. The passage is covered, so as to conceal those passing along it. The gallery shortened the way to the spring. Before it was built, the residents had to go out of the city gate on the other side of Megiddo.
The Megiddo church: Is not on the tell of Megiddo, but nearby next to Megiddo Junction inside the precinct of the Megiddo Prison. It was built within the ancient city of Legio and is believed to date to the 3rd century, which would make it one of the oldest churches in the world. It was situated a few hundreds yards from the base camp of Legion VI Ferrata and one of the mosaics found in the church was donated by a centurion.
"There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots." Isaiah 11:1
26 "Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth..." Luke 1
Hebrew Netzer , One view holds that "Nazareth" is derived from one of the Hebrew words for 'branch', namely netzer in Hebrew נצר, and alludes to the prophetic, messianic words in Book of Isaiah 11:1, 'from (Jesse's) roots a Branch (netzer) will bear fruit'. One view suggests this toponym might be an example of a tribal name used by resettling groups on their return from exile. Alternatively, the name may derive from the verb na·ṣar, נָצַר, "watch, guard, keep, and understood either in the sense of "watchtower" or "guard place", implying the early town was perched on or near the brow of the hill, or, in the passive sense as 'preserved, protected' in reference to its secluded position.
In Luke's Gospel, Nazareth is first described as 'a town of Galilee' and home of Mary (Luke 1:26). Following the birth and early epiphanial events of chapter 2 of Luke's Gospel, Mary, Joseph and Jesus "returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth".
The phrase "Jesus of Nazareth" appears seventeen times in English translations of the New Testament, whereas the Greek original contains the form "Jesus the Nazarēnos" or "Jesus the Nazōraios." One plausible view is that Nazōraean (Ναζωραῖος) is a normal Greek adaptation of a reconstructed, hypothetical term in Jewish Aramaic for the word later used in Rabbinical sources to refer to Jesus. "Nazaréth" is named twelve times in surviving Greek manuscript versions of the New Testament, 10 times as Nazaréth or Nazarét, twice as Nazará. The former two may retain the 'feminine' endings common in Galilean toponyms. The minor variants, Nazarat and Nazarath are also attested. Nazara (Ναζαρά) might be the earliest form of the name in Greek. It is found in Matthew 4:13 and Luke 4:16.
A Hebrew inscription found in Caesarea dating to the late 3rd or early 4th century mentions Nazareth as the home of the priestly Hapizzez/Hafizaz family after the Bar Kokhba revolt (AD 132–135). From the three fragments that have been found, the inscription seems to be a list of the twenty-four priestly courses (cf. Books of Chronicles - 1 Chronicles 24:7–19 and Book of Nehemiah - Nehemiah 11;12), with each course (or family) assigned its proper order and the name of each town or village in Galilee where it settled. Nazareth is not spelled with the "z" sound but with the Hebrew tsade (thus "Nasareth" or "Natsareth"). Eleazar Kalir (a Hebrew Galilean poet variously dated from the 6th to 10th century) mentions a locality clearly in the Nazareth region bearing the name Nazareth נצרת (in this case vocalized "Nitzrat"), which was home to the descendants of the 18th Kohen family Happitzetz (הפצץ), for at least several centuries after the Bar Kochva revolt.
Modern Nazareth: The largest city in the Northern District of Israel. Nazareth is known as "the Arab capital of Israel". In 2019 its population was 77,445. The inhabitants are predominantly Arab citizens of Israel, of whom 69% are Muslim and 30.9% Arabic-speaking Christians. Nof HaGalil (formerly "Nazareth Illit"), founded in 1957 alongside old Nazareth, with a Jewish majority.