Bethany((Al-Eizariya in Arabic) is a small village located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, just a few kilometers from Jerusalem, Israel. The village is known for its biblical significance, as it is believed to be the place where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
Bethany is also home to the Tomb of Lazarus, which is a popular destination for Christian pilgrims visiting the region. According to the Gospel of John, Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha, who were close friends of Jesus. After Lazarus died, Jesus visited the village and, through his divine power, raised Lazarus from the dead, thereby demonstrating his divine authority over life and death.
In addition to its religious significance, Bethany also has a rich cultural heritage. The village has a long history of pottery-making, and visitors can see examples of traditional Palestinian ceramics at local shops and galleries.
Today, Bethany is a quiet and peaceful village that offers visitors a unique glimpse into the region's rich history and culture. With its proximity to Jerusalem and its religious and cultural significance, Bethany is a popular destination for visitors to Israel who are interested in exploring the country's rich heritage.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF AL EIZARIYA?
Bethany Al-Eizariya's Arabic name translates to "the place of Lazarus." Edward Robinson published the following in 1840 in his book Biblical Researches in Palestine:
The village's name in Arabic is el-'Azirlyeh, which comes from the Arabic word for Lazarus, el-'Azir. The local populace is unaware of the name Bethany. However, there is no justification to query the location's identification.
Next to Bethany, there is a small village called Beit Ania, a small village in the West Bank, that holds significant biblical importance, particularly in the New Testament. It is believed to be the location where Jesus healed two blind men, as described in the Gospel of Matthew.
According to the Bible, Jesus passed through Beit Ania while traveling from Jericho to Jerusalem. Two blind men called out to him, asking for mercy and healing. Moved by their faith, Jesus touched their eyes, and they were immediately able to see.
Today, the village of Beit Ania is still known for its biblical significance, and many Christian pilgrims visit the area to explore the region's rich religious heritage. Visitors can explore the village's historic architecture, including traditional Palestinian stone houses and narrow alleyways, and learn about the culture and traditions of the local community.
While the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict has presented significant challenges for the village and its residents, Beit Ania remains an important symbol of faith, resilience, and determination. As visitors explore the village and reflect on the New Testament story of Jesus healing the blind men, they can gain a deeper understanding of the importance of faith, compassion, and hope in times of adversity.
Also, The brother of Miriam and Martha, Lazarus (Eleazar in Hebrew), was raised by Jesus four days after his death, according to the New Testament. The location where Jesus remained has a structure that is designated as Shimon the leper's home. Lazarus' name was shortened to "Lazar" throughout time. The town was known as "Lazarium" or "Lazarion" in the Middle Ages, giving Arabic its current name. Christian sources, however, continue to refer to the town as Bethania or Bethany, the name of the Second Temple-era community.
BETHANY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
According to the New Testament, Jesus stayed in the community at Simon the Leper's home. Jesus encountered Martha in the community, and she begged him to visit her ailing brother Eleazar. Only four days after the brother's death, Jesus lingered, and the brother was revived.
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
BETHANY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT FOR THE SECOND TIME
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.
THE HISTORY OF BETHANY ISRAEL
During the Roman period, Bethany was a small but prosperous village known for its agriculture, particularly its date palms. The village was also a popular destination for Jewish pilgrims, who came to visit the tombs of prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
In the Byzantine period, Bethany became an important center for Christian worship and pilgrimage. Many churches and monasteries were built in the area, including the Church of St. Lazarus, which was built on the site of Lazarus' tomb. The village was also known for its wine production, and many vineyards and wine presses were found in the area.
During the Muslim period, Bethany became a predominantly Muslim village, and many of its Christian buildings were repurposed as mosques. The village was an important center for the cultivation of olive trees and the production of olive oil, and many olive presses were found in the area.
In the Hellenistic period, Bethany was part of the Greek-influenced Seleucid Empire. The village was known for its strategic location along a major trade route, and it was an important center for trade and commerce. Excavations have uncovered evidence of a significant commercial center in the village, including markets and storage facilities for goods like wine and olive oil.
WHERE IS THE TOMB OF LAZARUS?
The Tomb of Lazarus, for whom Bethany is called, is located in the historic town of Al-Eizariya, by Christian tradition. The mausoleum is now under Muslim control, and a mosque next to it was constructed in the 16th century on the ruins of a Crusader church. The vicinity of the tomb is also home to Christian religious organizations, making it a popular destination for Christian pilgrims.
The townhouses are said to be the Tomb of Lazarus, for whom the town is named, following Christian tradition. The mausoleum is now under Muslim control, and a mosque is located close by. A Crusader church's foundations served as the base for the 16th-century construction of the mosque. The 1954-built Franciscan church is located close to the tomb. The church was constructed per the architect Antonio Barluzzi's plans, who also created numerous other Christian religious buildings in the Land of Israel. On the ruins of churches from the Byzantine and Crusader eras, this church was constructed. A Greek Orthodox church that was built in 1965, also on old Crusader foundations, is close by.
In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, leading to the outbreak of violence and the beginning of the Arab-Israeli conflict. During this time, Bethany was part of the British Mandate of Palestine, and its residents were largely Palestinian Arabs.
In 1948, Israel declared independence, leading to the outbreak of the first Arab-Israeli war. During the conflict, Bethany was occupied by Jordanian forces, and its residents faced significant hardships, including displacement and economic challenges.
In 1967, Israel launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, leading to the outbreak of the Six-Day War. During the conflict, Israeli forces occupied the West Bank, including Bethany, and the village became part of the occupied territories.
In the years following the Six-Day War, Bethany experienced significant changes, reflecting the ongoing political tensions and social changes in the region. Israeli settlements were established in the West Bank, including in nearby areas, leading to ongoing conflict between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents.
Today, Bethany remains an important destination for visitors interested in exploring the region's religious heritage and historic sites, but its residents continue to face ongoing challenges related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including restricted movement, limited access to resources, and ongoing political tensions.