Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ephraim, Shechem, and Mt Gerizim, By Dustin Larson

"Jesus therefore no longer went about openly among the Jews, but went from there to the country near the wilderness, to a town called E'phraim; and there he stayed with the disciples" (John 11:54)

Our first stop today was to the town of Taybeh, which is the modern day version of Ephraim.  Here, we did a couple things.  First, we had a sit-down chat with the priest who runs the parish.  He is a Palestinian Christian who has been through a lot, and he asks for prayers.  After our sit-down chat with him, which was very insightful, we went over to the Church to celebrate Sunday Mass.  I had a little fun trying to communicate with some of the kids that were running around outside before Mass.

After Mass we visited the House of Parables on the same property.  Perhaps most insightful here was a better picture of what a house would have looked like at Jesus' time.  There was an upper level and a lower level; the lower level was very much like a cave (and some houses had a cave for the lower level, with an upper level built above it).  Combining this with what we learned about Jesus' birth in a cave, it was nice to be able to connect the two images.

"There came a woman of Samar'ia to draw water.  Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."" (John 4:7)

Our next stop was the town of Nablus, which is the modern day version of the Biblical town of Shechem (Shechem was destroyed, and Nablus was built in its place).  Most notably, housed underneath a Greek Orthodox church is Jacob's well.  This well is the scene for the first section of Chapter 4 in the Gospel of John, when Jesus sits down at the well (in Samaritan territory) and He converses with the Samaritan woman.  We were able to lower a bucket down and draw water...I did not actually drink any of it, but I was extremely surprised at how crystal-clear the water looked.

Another Biblical note is that Joseph's bones were buried in a tomb nearby (cf. Joshua 24:32).  I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to look up other Shechem references in the Bible.

"He had to pass through Samar'ia" (John 4:4)

We didn't need to pass through like Jesus did, but we did anyway.  We drove up to the top of Mount Gerizim, the summit of which is next to a town where the remaining Samaritans live.  There are only a couple hundred remaining, and they claim to still have direct lineage with the 10 tribes of Israel that split off from the Kingdom of David (cf. 1 Kings 12:16).  Although they are so small, if I understood correctly, there seems to be a lot of inbreeding within their small community, which has resulted in many of the people being born with various handicaps.  My heart and prayers went out to a young boy who was walking with a crutch as we passed by on the bus.

"But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." (Luke 2:19)

So many things happened today, and once again, like virtually every day on this fantastic pilgrimage, somehow there was still enough time to recollect all the events of the day.  However, it is very clear to us that in order to fully unpack all the spiritual gifts from this pilgrimage, we will need much more free prayer time than we have at the moment.  But that's ok...that time will come over the next few weeks, months, and years.  This opportunity to see all these places and connect the Biblical imagery is a priceless experience...Scripture is truly coming alive for us.  I can't thank you all enough for your prayerful support...know that we continue to pray for you as well!

[All Biblical quotes are taken from the RSVCE]


  1. Just to add to this from my perspective of having gone there on pilgrimage in 2009, it won't all sink in during the time you are there. It's just too much. As you say, you need time to 'unpack' it all. You will be blessed to have many of those moments in the years to come in your daily walk with Jesus, reading the Scriptures, and in your priestly ministry. It's a blessing!! Thanks to all of you for all your posts. God bless you.

  2. Thank you, Dustin for your very descriptive post. It is so good that all of you are able to walk in the footsteps of Jesus! May your days be filled with more and more of his Holy Spirit!