Bethany Travel Guide and Tour AttractionsBiblical Sites | March 14, 2012
According to the New Testament, Bethany is the house of the figs. It is believed that this is the place of siblings Lazarus, Martha, Mary, and also the abode of Simon the Leper. It is said that Jesus is said to have stayed here after he entered into Jerusalem, and it is believed that he could separated from his disciples at Bethany.
Traditionally this Biblical site Bethany has been linked with he present day city of Al Eizariya. Al Eizariya means the Place of Lazarus. This is the place where the tomb of Lazarus is found and is situated around 1.5 miles to the eastern part of Jerusalem and is on the southern slope of the Mount of Olives. Today this is the place where the oldest house of 2000 year old building and is famous for having been the place where the House of Martha and Mary is there. This is a great biblical site and is a great pilgrim spot.
The tomb that is located at Al Eizariya has been regarded as the main tomb of the gospel account since the beginning of the 4th century AD This tomb has been mentioned by Eusebius of Caesarea who is a historian. the Bordeaux pilgrim has also mentioned it in the Itinerarium Burdigalense.
But it is also argued that ancient Bethany might have been situated in the Mount of Olives and was much nearer to Bethpage.
There are many who believe that the Bethany village grew around the “House of Misery” or “Poor House which was near the houses of Martha and Mary in the village. It is sure that the village formed the main tomb of Lazarus which is inside a cave in the village. The cave has been identified as the tomb belonging to Lazarus and it has a lot of authority. The site where the ancient village was there might not resemble the present village but there is lot of reason to understand that this was the location which is likely to be the Biblical site.
The name Bethany has been the topic of discussion of many debates and scholarships. Deutsch has said that this is a Syriac script word which could mean “House of Misery” or “Poor House”.
In fact this etymology was later adopted by Gustav Dalman sometime in the year 1905. Then there was another suggestion which said that the name amen from the word Bethphage or the house of unripe figs. So it is believed that the word came from beit hini which means the house of figs.
Ancient Bethany is a place which was like an almshouse for the sick and the poor and where the sick are taken care of. Bethany is linked with the care of the unwell as per the gospels. There is a verse which talks about Mark telling Simon the Leper and his house. He also tells how Jesus receives an emergency word of the illness of Lazarus.
According to the Temple Scroll from Qumran there are three places that are for caring for the sick. These are located in the eastern part of the Jerusalem. Since Bethany was a place that was a little away but nearer to the holy city, this was considered to be a place for the sick and the unwell. Bethany was found located in the base of the Temple Mount thus becoming the place of the unwell.
Galilean pilgrims in fact used to avoid any kind of conflicts with the Samaritans while they traveled south on the eastern side of Jordan. Bethany was the last halt on the route to the holy city of Jerusalem. Pilgrims used to cross the river and take the road from Jericho upto the highlands. Bethany was thus from the ancient ages a great charitable institution and has been a place which is a great Biblical Site.