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The Sites

Israel and Palestine – In Jerusalem

Israel and Palestine – Outside Jerusalem

Jordan

Egypt

Extras

Events in Jesus’ life

Significant events in the life of Jesus are listed here, with places where these events are commemorated.

Conception of Jesus: Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth (Luke 1:26-38)

Birth of Jesus: Grotto of the Nativity, in Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-20)

Baptism of Jesus: Bethany Beyond the Jordan, in Jordan (Matthew 3:13-17)

Temptation by the devil: Mount of Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)

First miracle: Cana in Galilee (John 2:1-11)

Meeting the Samaritan woman: Jacob’s Well, near Nablus (John 4:5-42)

Teaching in the Nazareth synagogue: Church of the Synagogue, Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30)

Bethany Beyond the Jordan

Remains of Christian sites at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, with steps leading to Church of John the Baptist, under far shelter (Seetheholyland.net)

Teaching in the Capernaum synagogue: Old synagogue at Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28)

Sermon on the Mount: Mount of Beatitudes, Galilee (Matthew 5:1 – 7:28)

Raising the widow’s son: Nain in Galilee (Luke 7:11-17)

Calming the storm, and many other events: Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41)

Teaching the Lord’s Prayer: Church of Pater Noster, Mount of Olives (Matthew 6:7-14)

Healing a man possessed by demons: Kursi in Galilee (Luke 8:26-39)

Feeding the 5000: Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Tabgha in Galilee (Matthew 14:13-21)

Healing a paralysed man: Pools of Bethesda, Jerusalem (John 5:2-18)

Healing blind men: Pool of Siloam, Jerusalem (John 9:1-41); Bethsaida in Galilee (Mark 8:22-26)

Announcing the Church: Near Caesarea Philippi in Galilee (Matthew 16:18)

Transfiguration: Mount Tabor in Galilee (Matthew 17:1-9)

Raising of Lazarus: Bethany, near Jerusalem (John 11:1-44)

Bethany

Entrance to the Tomb of Lazarus (Seetheholyland.net)

Healing of Bartimaeus: Jericho (Mark 10:46-52)

Seeking refuge at Ephraim: Taybeh (John 11:54)

Triumphal entry into Jerusalem: Bethphage (Matthew 21:1-11)

Weeping over Jerusalem: Church of Dominus Flevit, Mount of Olives (Luke 19:41-44)

Last Supper: Cenacle, Mount Zion (Matthew 26:17-30)

Agony in the garden: Church of All Nations, Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:36-46)

Betrayal by Judas: Gethsemane, Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:47-56)

Denial by Peter: Church of St Peter in Gallicantu, Mount Zion (Matthew 26:69-75)

Crucifixion, burial and Resurrection: Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem (Matthew 27:27 – 28:10)

Appearance on the road to Emmaus: Nicopolis, Abu Ghosh and El-Qubeibeh (Luke 24:13-35)

Appearance in Galilee: Church of the Primacy of Peter, Tabgha (John 21: 1-19)

Ascension: Dome of the Ascension and Church of the Ascension, Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-11)

 

 

Mount Tabor

Israel

Mount Tabor, rising dome-like from the Plain of Jezreel, is the mountain where Christian tradition places the Transfiguration of Jesus.

Mount Tabor with Franciscan monastery on top (Seetheholyland.net)

Mount Tabor with Franciscan monastery on top (Seetheholyland.net)

Scholars disagree on whether Mount Tabor was the scene of that event (described in Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9: 2-8 and Luke 9:28-36). However, it has throughout history been a place of mystique and atmosphere, where humanity has sought contact with the divine.

Its unique contours — variously described as “breast-shaped”, “hump-backed” and “resembling an upside down tea cup” — captured the imagination of ancient peoples who attached to it supernatural qualities.

Mount Tabor stands some 420 metres above the plain in lower Galilee, 7km east of Nazareth. It held a strategic position at the junction of trade routes. Many battles have been fought at its foot.

In the Old Testament, Mount Tabor is described as a sacred mountain and a place for worship. It is not mentioned by name in the New Testament.

 

Location of Transfiguration is questioned

Mount Tabor

Church buildings on Mount Tabor (Wikimedia)

The Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration — a momentous event in which Peter, James and John were introduced to the divine incarnation of Christ, the God-Man — do not specify the place. They simply say it was a “high mountain” in Galilee.

Christian tradition in the early centuries named the mountain as Tabor. This location is cited in early apocryphal writings and was accepted by the Syriac and Byzantine churches.

Many biblical scholars now question this tradition. Mount Tabor’s location does not fit well into events before and after the Transfiguration. At the time, a Hasmonean fortress stood on the summit.

And would Tabor be considered a “high mountain”, especially compared to other mountains in the vicinity? (It’s actually more than 200 metres lower than Jerusalem.)

These scholars see the much higher Mount Hermon as a more likely location.

Nevertheless, a succession of churches and a monastery were built on Mount Tabor from the fourth century.

 

Hairpin bends take taxis to the top

Mount Tabor

Mosaic of Transfiguration in apse of Church of the Transfiguration (Seetheholyland.net)

After the Crusaders were defeated in the 12th century and the area was taken over by the Turks, the Mamluk sultan Baybars destroyed all the religious buildings on Mount Tabor in 1263. Tabor remained deserted for nearly 400 years until the Franciscans negotiated permission to settle there.

Early pilgrims used to climb 4300 steps cut into the rocky slope to reach the summit. These days taxis negotiate a succession of hairpin bends before they suddenly reach the summit.

The present Catholic and Greek Orthodox buildings (separated by a wall) were constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The prominent Catholic Church of the Transfiguration, designed by the Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi, stands among ruins of a Benedictine monastery. A bas-relief of the architect, who designed many of the Holy Land’s churches, is set into a wall on the right of the entrance.

Its entrance is flanked by chapels dedicated to Moses and Elijah, who were seen with Jesus during his Transfiguration. The event itself is depicted above the main altar in the central apse.

In the crypt under the church are the altar and fragments of walls of a Byzantine church. There is a tradition that the rock floor of the crypt is where Jesus stood during the Transfiguration.

The Greek Orthodox church, often not open to visitors, honours Elijah. It too is built on the ruins of Byzantine and Crusader churches.

 

‘Breadbasket’ scene of battles

Mount Tabor’s height affords uninterrupted panoramas. From the balcony of the Franciscan hospice, the view is of the plain of Jezreel, bounded by the Carmel range and the mountains of Samaria.

The fertile plain is called “the breadbasket of Israel”, a reminder that one of the meanings of Jezreel is “God sows”.

Mount Tabor

Jezreel Valley from Mount Tabor (Seetheholyland.net)

But this plain has often resounded to the clash of battle.

On the slopes of Mount Tabor, in the time of the Judges, the prophetess Deborah and her general Barak marshalled their warriors before sweeping down to rout the 900 chariots of Sisera and his Canaanites (Judges 4:4-16).

Armies of all the great generals who campaigned in the Middle East have tramped across the plain, from the pharaoh Thutmose III to General Edmund Allenby, and including Alexander the Great and Napoleon.

And in the Book of Revelation, it is named as the scene of the battle of Armageddon (also called Harmagedon or Har-Megiddo), in which good will triumph over evil.

 

In Scripture:

Deborah and Barak’s triumph: Judges 4:4-14

The Transfiguration: Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9: 2-8 and Luke 9:28-36

 

Administered by: Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land

Tel.: 972-4-6620720

Open: 8am-noon, 2-5pm

 

 

References

Brownrigg, Ronald: Come, See the Place: A Pilgrim Guide to the Holy Land (Hodder and Stoughton, 1985)
Charlesworth, James H.: The Millennium Guide for Pilgrims to the Holy Land (BIBAL Press, 2000)
Freeman-Grenville, G. S. P.: The Holy Land: A Pilgrim’s Guide to Israel, Jordan and the Sinai (Continuum Publishing, 1996)
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (Oxford University Press, 2005)
Pixner, Bargil: With Jesus Through Galilee According to the Fifth Gospel (Corazin Publishing, 1992)
Wareham, Norman, and Gill, Jill: Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Canterbury Press, 1996)

 

External links

Mount Tabor (Franciscan Cyberspot)
Mount Tabor (BiblePlaces)
Mount Tabor (Christus Rex)

Caesarea Philippi

Israel

Caesarea Philippi

Panorama from Caesarea Philippi (Francesco Gasparetti)

Near Caesarea Philippi, a city of Greek-Roman culture known for its worship of foreign gods, Jesus announced he would establish a church and gave authority over it to the apostle Simon — whom he renamed Peter.

When Christ asked, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” it was Simon Peter who was inspired to answer: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

In reply, Christ declared: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-20)

Situated 40km north of the Sea of Galilee, the region of Caesarea Philippi was the furthest north Jesus took his disciples.

 

Cult of Pan flourished

Caesarea Philippi

Shrines to Pan at Caesarea Philippi (Bill Rice)

The city had been known as Banias, an Arabic pronunciation of Panias (there is no p in Arabic). This name honoured the Greek god Pan — a half-man, half-goat deity often depicted playing a flute — who was worshipped here.

When Jesus passed this way, the area was ruled by Herod the Great’s son Philip, who had renamed the city Caesarea. To distinguish it from the coastal Caesarea Maritima, it became known as Caesarea Philippi.

The city had been built near the Banias spring, which gushes from a massive rock face and flows into one of the streams that form the Jordan River.

Here the cult of Pan flourished. East of a large cave are the remains of shrines to Pan and inscriptions, from the 2nd century, bearing his name.

Now a nature reserve

Caesarea Philippi

Remnants of the Temple of Pan with Pan’s cave in the background (Gugganij / Wikimedia)

Since Jesus liked to use local imagery for his metaphors and parables, it is easy to visualise him standing by the steep cliff of the Banias spring and telling Peter that he would become “this rock”.

Six days after this event, the Transfiguration took place on “a high mountain” (Matthew 17:1). Christian tradition places the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, near Nazareth, but some scholars believe Mount Hermon (16km north of Caesarea Philippi) to be a more likely site.

Banias, including the sanctuary of Pan and the remains of a Roman/Crusader town, is now a nature reserve.

The steep cliff of the cult area with the cave of Pan is located near the eastern entrance to the reserve, and is clearly visible from the parking area.

 

In Scripture:

Peter calls Jesus the Messiah: Matthew 16:13-20

Jesus foretells his death: Mark 8:31—9:1

 

Administered by: Israel Nature and Parks Authority

Tel.: 972-4-6902577 (spring), 972-4-6950272 (waterfall)

Open: Apr-Sep 8am-5pm; Oct-Mar 8am-4pm (last entry one hour before closing)

 

 

 

References

Brownrigg, Ronald: Come, See the Place: A Pilgrim Guide to the Holy Land (Hodder and Stoughton, 1985)
Charlesworth, James H.: The Millennium Guide for Pilgrims to the Holy Land (BIBAL Press, 2000)
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (Oxford University Press, 2005)

 

External links

Caesarea Philippi (BiblePlaces)
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