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The Sites

Israel and Palestine – In Jerusalem

Israel and Palestine – Outside Jerusalem




Inn of the Good Samaritan

West Bank


Though the Inn of the Good Samaritan existed only in a parable, a real-life site was proposed in the early Christian centuries to edify the faith of pilgrims.

Inn of the Good Samaritan

Entrance to Museum of the Good Samaritan (Josh Evnin)

The location, beside the road going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, fitted Jesus’ parable about the man who “fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead” (Luke 10:25-37).

In the 6th century a Byzantine monastery with pilgrim accommodation was erected on the site of what was probably some sort of travellers’ hostel well before the time of Jesus. Later the Crusaders established a fortress on a nearby hill to protect pilgrims against robbers.

The remains of the monastery, about 18 kilometres from Jerusalem, became an Ottoman caravanserai and then served as a police post during the 20th century.

Inn of the Good Samaritan

Archaeological site and (at rear) worship area (© Whitecapwendy)

In 2009 Israel built a mosaic museum on the site — a matter of controversy since the area is in the West Bank and under Israeli military and civil control.

The remains of the monastery church were reconstructed as a space for worship, with an altar but no cross or other visible Christian symbol.


Road was notorious for robbers

Inn of the Good Samaritan

Modern road from Jerusalem down to Jericho in vicinity of Inn of the Good Samaritan (© Custodia Terrae Sanctae)

Jesus would have been familiar with the road. He would often have walked it on the final stretch of the way from Galilee to Jerusalem along the Jordan Valley.

It was here that the Mount of Olives and Mount Scopus gave travellers from Jericho their first glimpse of Jerusalem.

The rocky desert terrain around where the Inn of the Good Samaritan now stands was notorious for robbers. The local name for the area — Ma‘ale Adummim (“ascent of the red rocks”) — came from patches of limestone tinted red by iron oxide, but also suggested bloody raids by bandits.

Inn of the Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan, depicted on arrival at the inn, by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1630 (Wallace Collection, London)

In the parable, a priest and a Levite saw the man who had been robbed but “passed by on the other side”. But a travelling Samaritan was “moved with pity”, tended the man’s wounds, took him to an inn and paid for his care.

The 12,000 Jericho-based priests and Levites used the road whenever they were rostered to serve in the Temple. But a traveller from Samaria would have been regarded as an alien in Judea.

So Jesus chose an unlikely hero — one whose people were at enmity with the Jews — to demonstrate that loving one’s neighbour requires expanding the definition of neighbour to include even an enemy.


Mosaics come from synagogues and churches

Inn of the Good Samaritan

King David playing harp, mosaic at Museum of the Good Samaritan (© Israel Ministry of Tourism)

The museum is one of the largest in the world devoted to mosaics. Displays both indoors and outdoors include mosaics from Jewish and Samaritan synagogues, as well as from Christian churches, in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Some of the mosaics date back to the 4th century AD. Many have been removed from archaeological sites, while others have been partly or wholly reconstructed.

The designs include rich geometric patterns, birds and flowers. Some have Greek, Hebrew or Samaritan inscriptions.

Displays also include findings from a nine-year archaeological excavation in the area. Among them are pottery, coins and stone coffins from the 1st century BC, and a carved pulpit, a case for holy relics and a dining table from the Byzantine era.


In Scripture:

Inn of the Good Samaritan

Byzantine church pulpit in Museum of the Good Samaritan (Yair Talmor)

Parable of the Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37

Administered by: Israel Nature and Parks Authority

Tel.: 972-2-6338230

Open: Sunday-Thursday and Saturday, 8am-4pm; Friday and holiday eves, 8am-3pm; eves of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover, 8am-1pm.



Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Lefkovits, Etgar: “Mosaic museum opens in the W. Bank”, Jerusalem Post, June 7, 2009
Mackowski, Richard M.: Jerusalem: City of Jesus (William B. Eerdmans, 1980)
Prag, Kay: Jerusalem: Blue Guide (A. & C. Black, 1989)
Wareham, Norman, and Gill, Jill: Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Canterbury Press, 1996)


External links

The Inn of the Good Samaritan (BibleWalks)

Nazareth Village



Nazareth Village

Watchman on his tower at Nazareth Village (Seetheholyland.net)

Small-town life in the time of Jesus has been authentically recreated at Nazareth Village, just 500 metres south-west of the landmark Church of the Annunciation.

On hillside farm terraces growing olives, figs and pomegranates, visitors can encounter a shepherd tending his flock, a carpenter using his tools and a weaver demonstrating her craft.

As the seasons pass, a farmer breaks open the ground with a plough pulled by donkeys, crops are planted and pruned, olives are harvested and pressed, grapes are picked and crushed by foot, and wheat is cut and threshed.

There is a watchtower, a quarry, an irrigation system and a village synagogue that accurately replicates a first-century Jewish house of worship.

In this parable-rich environment, in-character villagers in authentic costumes demonstrate farming practices and talk about their daily life and work as they relate to the Gospels.


A working farm in Jesus’ time

Nazareth Village opened in 2000 as the fulfillment of a long-held vision of Dr Nakhle Bishara, medical director of the adjacent Nazareth Hospital and a local historian.

Nazareth Village

Donkeys grazing at Nazareth Village (Seetheholyland.net)

It occupies a 6-hectare site that was previously vacant hospital land. Archaeologists have confirmed the site would have been a working terrace farm in Jesus’ time, probably the property of a single extended family.

Scholarly research led by experts from the Jerusalem-based University of the Holy Land underpinned the project. Village buildings were erected in stone, using first-century construction methods.

An early archaeological discovery was an ancient man-made basin, cut into the bedrock, that was used for making wine. This level area where grapes were treaded had a channel leading to a pit where the runoff juice was collected.

Pottery from as far back as the Early Bronze Age — more than 2000 years before Christ — was found on the site.


Meals of first-century foods

Nazareth Village

Weaving on a loom at Nazareth Village (Seetheholyland.net)

Nazareth Village is a non-profit Christian enterprise. It is backed by an interdenominational collection of locals and international identities such as former United States president Jimmy Carter and singer Pat Boone, and volunteers from around the world join its staff for varying periods of time.

Tours of the village take about an hour and a half, beginning with displays giving the historical context of Jewish life under Roman occupation in the 1st century.

Special-event meals can be arranged for groups, in which typical first-century foods are served with fresh herbs and savoury flat bread in a stone dining area with arched spans.

A gift shop offers a range of products linked to the life of Jesus, including books, art, costumes, frankincense, nard and mustard seeds.

The authentic character of Nazareth Village has often attracted television and movie companies to use it as a setting for period productions.


Other sites in Nazareth:


Church of the Annunciation

Church of St Joseph

Administered by: Nazareth Village Board

Tel.: 972 4 6456042; fax 972 4 6559295

Open: 9am-5pm (last tour begins 3.30pm); closed Sunday, New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Independence Day, Christmas Day, December 26.




Kauffmann, Joel: The Nazareth Jesus Knew (Nazareth Village, 2005)
Pfann, Stephen; Voss, Ross; and Rapuano, Yehudah: “Surveys and Excavations at the Nazareth Village Farm (1997–2002): Final Report”, Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society, volume 25 (2007)
Smith, David: “Where it happened”, The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition, December 2007
Walker, Peter: In the Steps of Jesus (Zondervan, 2006)


External links

Nazareth Village
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