Tomb of Lazarus – Bethany

I went to Bethany on Palm Sunday (the day of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem), thinking I could walk from Bethany straight to Bethpage (Jesus did), which is also on the Mount of Olives and where the Palm Sunday Procession begins – see a future post about Holy Week in Jerusalem! The locals warned me that Bethany is technically in the West Bank so it would be impossible, but goaded me on to try anyway. I got as far as the 30ft high concrete wall (1). I turned back and was met with the locals grinning at me, shaking their fingers saying “no-no.” I ended up taking a sherut back to Jerusalem and then another to Bethpage.

Bethany (“Beth Anya” or house of the suffering), now known to locals only by its Arabic name el-Azariya, is a small Palestinian village on the south eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. Biblically it is most famous for the home of Mary, her sister Martha, and their brother Lazarus. In John 11 Christ performs arguably his most famous miracle when he raises Lazarus from the dead. The Tomb of Lazarus (5-10) sits between a mosque and a monastery (3, 4), the mosque commemorating the event and the monastery built over the rock where Christ sat awaiting Martha.

The tomb really feels like a tomb. Inside and down a couple of flights of stairs is the first chamber, which opens to a wall with a small gap on the floor leading to the burial chamber (9). It’s easy to imagine how and where the body was laid. The tomb is immediately much more damp than the outside and has a very specific stench. The whole area is pretty small so you can’t spend that much time there if there’s a line, but humidity and smell makes it difficult to meditate, (or easier if that’s your thing).

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~ by jonathanmtsai on April 17, 2011.

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