JACOB'S WELL IN SHECHEM
Nablus is the modern name for Shechem, the biblical city whose ruins are currently being excavated from the depths of time. The well of the forefather Jacob, carved into the rock next to the road along which the Old Testament patriarchs once walked, is the main local shrine, equally revered by Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
Nablus is the Arabic name for the city on the Jordan River's West Bank in Palestinian Authority territory. In a Greek Orthodox monastery, there is a well filled with spring water, which centuries-old tradition associates with the fact that Jacob, the forefather, once carved. The patriarch who returned to Shechem from Mesopotamia set up a camp in front of the city and acquired the land on which tents were set up, but there is no direct mention of this in the Book of Genesis.
According to biblical scholars, this is where Jacob's well in Nablus was dug:
In the New Testament, “Jacob's well” in Shechem is directly mentioned: “So He comes to the city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the plot of land Jacob gave to his son Joseph. There was the well of Jacob,” says the Gospel of John (4:5-6).
Shechem is Sychar (Shchem). It is worth noting that the Savior's journey from Galilee to Jerusalem via Samaria was regarded as somewhat dubious by the Jews of the time. The Samaritans (they, too, are Samaritans) could easily obstruct a Jew's path - and they regarded communication with the Samaritans as unworthy, considering the locals to be half pagans. The Jew returning from the north to the Holy City would rather take the long route through the Jordan Valley. Nonetheless, the Lord chose this path, and at Jacob's well, he spoke with a Samaritan woman known in Christian tradition as Photinia. This conversation is also described in the Gospel of John, and Holy Tradition adds the story of how Photinia became a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and was worthy of a martyr's crown at the end of her earthly life.
Since the first centuries of Christianity, believers have revered both Jacob's well and the area surrounding it. It was customary to perform the sacrament of baptism here in the fourth century. Empress Elena later built a magnificent cruciform basilica over the well, which St. Jerome mentions in his writings.
The Christian temple built over Jacob's well was doomed to be destroyed and rebuilt numerous times over the centuries. The basilica was first reduced to ruins during the Samaritan uprising in 484 or 529. Following that, Emperor Justinian restored the temple, which stood until the 8th or 9th century.
The crusaders who occupied Jerusalem in 1099 did not find the time over the source, and neither did the pilgrims who rushed to the Holy Land at the beginning of the 12th century. However, written sources from the end of the same century mention the church once more: "The well is located half a mile from the city: it is in front of the altar of the church built over it, in which the nuns devoted themselves to the service of God." "Jacob's Well" is the name of this well. (Theodoric). The restoration of the church over Jacob's well is thought to be the work of Queen Melisende of Jerusalem, who lived in exile in Nablus until she died in 1161.
Following Saladin's victory over the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin in 1187, the Muslims destroyed the Christian temple once more, leaving it in ruins for a century. Heinrich Moundrel, who visited these sites at the end of the 17th century, measured the water level in Jacob's well - the depth was 4.6 meters. Edward Robinson, who visited Nablus a century and a half later, mentioned both the well and the remains of the temple just above it, to the southwest: "a shapeless mass of ruins, among which parts of gray granite columns are visible, which still retained their luster."In 1860, the Greek Patriarchy received a plot of land with a well and built a temple in honor of St. Photinia of Samaria. However, this structure was destroyed by the devastating earthquake of 1927.
Father Justin, a powerful Greek priest from Nablus, later led a large-scale reconstruction project for the temple, which was completed as recently as the beginning of the twenty-first century. The rebuilt church, in general, replicates the Crusader kingdom's construction - it is located on the grounds of the Orthodox monastery "Jacob's Well" (the locals call it in Arabic - Bir-Yakub).
Jacob's well, named after the Biblical Patriarch, is located in the crypt beneath the altar. According to measurements taken in 1935, the total depth of the well is 41 meters. Around the well, there are always many icons of the Mother of God, Photinia of Samaria, and other saints, as well as candles lit by believers. Anyone who comes can draw water from the holy spring using a bucket and a small winch.
Aside from Jacob's well, there are other revered shrines in Nablus' Temple of St. Photinia of Samaritan (Shechem). This is a particle of John the Baptist's relics, a fragment of St. Photinia's skull, a flap from St. Spyridon of Trimifuntsky's clothes, and a cup with the fragrant blood of the Hieromartyr Fmlumen the Holy Sepulcher in the altar and his relics in the temple's naos. This amazing saint, who undertook a lot of work during his lifetime to revive the temple over St. James' well, and after his martyrdom was canonized, deserves special mention.
Father Filumen, a native of Cyprus, arrived in the Holy Land and took monastic vows. He served in the Jerusalem Patriarchate's monasteries: St. Sava the Sanctified, St. Theodosius, St. Constantine, the patriarchal church in Jerusalem - and later, in the rank of abbot, at many other great shrines. Fr. Filumen, who was already an archimandrite, was appointed abbot of the monastery at Jacob's Well. As a result of his obedience, he was repeatedly threatened and demanded by Gentiles to remove the cross and icons from the well, but he stood firm and continued to revive the monastery church.
On a rainy November 29, 1979, the villains broke into the monastery temple while Fr. Philumen was serving mass. They slashed his face crosswise with two ax blows, then mutilated three fingers on his right hand to form a cross, and gouged out his eyes. When Father Filumen attempted to flee the temple, the killers severed both of his legs near the knees with an ax. The blasphemers defiled the temple after leaving the bloodied abbot to die: they broke the crucifix, defaced, and scattered the sacred vessels.
A mentally ill Israeli was suspected of murder motivated by religious hatred, but he committed crime after crime, and the investigation yielded little, and the publication of materials about him was prohibited. Traces of the main suspect are also lost somewhere in the country's psychiatric clinics.
When the coffin containing Father Philomen's body was opened with the blessing of the Jerusalem Patriarch in 1983, almost complete corruption of relics was discovered inside. Only the right foot's foot and the left foot's toes decayed. The martyr's arms and legs were easily bent.
Archimandrite Philomen the Holy Sepulcher was canonized as a holy martyr by the Church of Jerusalem in 2009. In 2010, the Russian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod decided to "include the name of the Hieromartyr Philomen (Khasapis) in the Russian Orthodox Church's months with the establishment of the celebration of his memory on November 16/29, as established in the Jerusalem Church."
Pilgrims who come to the monastery at Jacob's Well near Beer Sheeva spend a long time praying at the shrine of the holy martyr Philomen. Prayers at his holy relics have resulted in numerous cases of grace-filled assistance in illnesses and difficult life circumstances.