Samaria, which is situated within the Palestinian Territories, is a beautiful, historical region, located in the northern part of the West Bank. The New Testament references this area many times, including the miraculous healing of the ten lepers- Luke 17:11-20. There are many interesting and historical sites to be seen here on your next Holy Land tour.
Nablus, is historically significant city as it is where Jacob first arrived when returning from Mesopotamia, and where according to the book of Genesis, he bought land and dug a well for his family and flock. located between Mt Gerizim and Mt Ebal. The city is well known for its olive oil factories, soaps, busy markets and incredible food.
Important holy sites in Nablus include Jacob’s Well, which is described in John, at the site where Jesus met the Samaritan woman. The well is located in a Greek Orthodox monastery and is open to visitors. Additionally, one can visit the remains of ancient Shekhem, which is located in a mountain pass between Mt Gerizim and Mt Ebal known today as Tel Balata.
Located 10 minutes from Nablus, this archaeological site, once considered the capital of Samaria, offers a glimpse into ancient times. Like most of other Herod buildings Sabastiya was originally built by Ahab, the son of Omri and husband of Jezbeel. The Assyrians captured in in 723B.C, thereby ending the Israelite rule.
Sabastyia contains a fortress and palace dating from the ninth-eighth centuries BCE when prophets such as Elijah warned people of what would happen if they did not follow the word of God. But Sabastiya flourished during the Roman period as well. The Roman Emperor Augustus gave the city of Sabastiya to Herod and he then rebuilt it in typically grand Herod style complete with an impressive, kilometer long cardo containing 600 columns to an impressive gate. He also built a forum, a Roman basilica, stadium, temple, hippodrome, houses, storehouses and a theater surrounded by a wall and gates. Situated in the Samarian mountains, the site enjoys gentle mountain breezes. The ancient Roman theater and stadium were both built in honor of Augustus Caesar and the remains of a mosque that were built over a byzantine era church dedicated to John the Baptist. Located nearby is the village of Sabastiya which is also worth a stroll.
Mt Gerazim and the Samaritans:
Located on the south side of Nablus, Mt Gerazim is mentioned in the Bible as the blessed hill, while Mt Ebal, located on the opposite side of Nablus as the cursed hill. Mt Gerazim is the holist site in the Samaritan religion and is home to the Samartian community. Mt Gerazim National Park offers a view of the ancient town and is open to the public. The cities of Zababdeh, Jenin and Burqin, are all situated in the Samarian region of the Palestinian Territories which is also associated with the northern region of the Biblical Samaria.
Zababdeh is a predominantly Christian rural village located around 10 km south of Jenin. Its name is probably derived from the Arabic word ‘zibdeh’ which means butter.
Taking a short walk through the village you reach the Latin church of Visitation, which, according to tradition, was built in 1883 on the site where Mary and Elizabeth met. There is a grotto located under the church which could have been a resting spot for the Holy Family on their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Some believe that during the time of Christ, Zababdeh was situated on the travel and trade route of that time period, and was probably visited by Jesus himself. In 1884, during the construction of the Latin Convent of the Rosary sisters, located just next to the Visitation Church, ancient Byzantine mosaics were uncovered.
To visit the Latin Parish call (04) 251 05 25 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Palestinian town of Burqin, located 4 km west of Jenin, is famous as the location of the Church of Ten Lepers, also known as the Greek Orthodox church of St. George. This very well maintained church was one of the most impressive sites in the region.
The Burqin Church dates to the Byzantine times and is considered to be the fifth-oldest Christian holy place and the third-oldest church in the world. The first church was built over a cave which looks like a Roman cistern, where Jesus is said to cure ten lepers, from whom only one came back to thank him.
During the Crusader period, after the 13th century, the church was rebuilt what can be clearly noticed by looking at the medieval ceiling of the monastery. There also can be seen a very impressive stone iconostasis and ancient stone chair for a priest.
Recent excavations inside the church revealed a burial place for two monks. The belongings found in the tombs are currently exposed – among them parts of a Bible written in Arabic dating at least 400 years.