The Arab Community’s Capital, Jesus’ Home, Nazareth, Israel
Jesus’ Hometown. But, Nazareth, Israel is known as “the Arab capital of Israel.” Catechism class taught me that Nazareth, Israel was the place where Jesus grew up. In Luke’s Gospel, Nazareth is first described as ‘a city of Galilee’ and the home of Mary (Luke 1:26). Following Jesus’ birth and early events described in Luke’s Gospel, Mary, Joseph and Jesus “returned to Galilee, to their city, Nazareth”. Source: Wikipedia
Nazareth, Israel Jesus’ Hometown
Nazareth, Israel The Arab Community’s Capital
My thought was that Nazareth is a Christian community but I was surprised that Nazareth was considered Arab. Before I started this trip, I knew Mary’s Well was in Nazareth, but I didn’t know Nazareth was Arab. I guess it’s because I don’t think of places as Arab or Jewish – White or Black. I believe that Nazareth was a little village where Gabrielle told Mary not to be afraid.
In the Gospel of Luke, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and the Virgin Mary, foretelling the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively (Luke 1:11–38).…29 But Mary was perplexed at this statement and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31” And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.… source: Wikipedia
Going to Nazareth to Hunt for Mary’s Well
My friends are afraid for me. They didn’t want me to go alone to Nazareth. But, they didn’t know anything about Nazareth. My trip to Nazareth felt safe, manageable and seemed relatively relaxed. I went by car and drove there by myself. Nazareth seemed like a little village. It wasn’t scary and to the contrary. To me, Nazareth felt very friendly and safe. I arrived early. But, to protect my rental vehicle, I parked my car in a paid parking lot. I chuckled when I saw Christmas decorations were hanging from some trees in the fall. Then I saw pomegranates and fresh juice stands that reminded me of Istanbul.
The next thing I saw was …
Jesus’ Sandals for Sale
That was too funny! Jesus’ sandals for sale, really? Now I was laughing out loud. People were turning around and looking at me. Jesus’ sandals really, why would anyone buy sandals here, it just hit me as hysterical, and a very strange souvenir. To me, this represented tourism at its finest – selling Jesus’ sandals.
I saw city class miserable traffic in this small village. Absolute gridlock as bad as DC, Seattle, or New York rush hour from 9:00 until dusk. Plan to spend time in traffic and to hear lots of honking horns. Find a parking lot as soon as possible and park your car and walk to see the sights.
Hunting for Mary’s Well
I went hunting for the Well – an ancient well. Off I went to find The Church of the Annunciation.
The Courtyard has a Statue of Mary
The Church is the centerpiece of the town. It’s impossible to miss.
Inside The Catholic Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth
Inside the church, it looked like a cave. One odd characteristic I noticed was the absence of wood. Jesus was a carpenter. Yet, everything was made of stone and concrete.
Nazareth, Israel Jesus’ Home
Surely this wasn’t the Well. The Church stands where the family home once was. At the banister, I paused to look at the altar. I peered over the railing from the second story and the area below. Was there a well on the first floor? No, well – but it was Jesus’ home. Amazing to think this is where He once walked and lived. Was I at Jesus’ childhood home” I kept noticing – everything was stone. I began to think that Jesus must have been a stone mason, not a carpenter. There weren’t many trees in Nazareth, Israel. Maybe there were trees along time ago. But, my observation is hat in the town of Nazareth there aren’t any dense forest. Perhaps once trees were here. There were trees along a few streets. But those trees weren’t very old.
Nazareth, Israel Mary’s Well
I kept hunting for Mary’s Well – knowing that it was close. One observation I noticed was Nazareth was a place of prayer. People were praying everywhere. My photos reminded me how striking it was to see that many people praying – both Muslims and Christians.
Altar at the Church of the Annunciation
Praying in Nazareth, Israel
I kept searching. Mary is revered by both Muslims and Christians and Mary’s Well is a very holy place for both religions.
Muslim’s believe the prophet Muhammad recorded words in the Quran, which say that the angel Gabriel, the angel informed Zachariah of John’s birth and the future nativity of Jesus, to Mary and that Gabriel was one of three angels who had earlier informed Abraham of the birth of Isaac. Source Wikipedia
Exhibition of Ancient Stone Mason Works from Nazareth
Ask to Find What You Seek
I asked the curator about the stonework, and he said Nazareth is known as the home of a master stone masons guild. The tradesmen from this area are ‘then and now,’ stone masons. Jesus may have been a carpenter, a builder and people must have brought his wood. Maybe King James authors wrote carpenter because builders in England used wood. But in Israel, there is a lot of stone. Wood is scarce. The carpenter Jesus must have found his wood somewhere else. Or maybe, His material might have been stone, or maybe He used a little of both.
Hunting For the Well
I asked men at the entrances of the sanctuaries “Where is Mary’s Well?” They said, “Go to the White Mosque.” He pointed in the direction of the market. I strolled through the Arab market. The large selection of household goods, clothing and electronics took me off course for a while. Eventually, I focused and continued on my way to the White Mosque.
Down a corridor and past the old man guarding his shop, the White Mosque was only a few blocks away.
The White Mosque
Next, I passed a man guarding the entrance to the White Mosque. With his permission, I took this photo of him. The lines of his face and his piercing brown eyes tell me that he has witnessed history from the front row.
Enter A Mosque When It’s Not Prayer Time
A very simple, small Mosque – It wasn’t prayer time, so I went into the White Mosque.
Further Inside the White Mosque
White Mosque’s Second Entrance
Behind the vegetable stand was another the entrance to the White Mosque.
The White Mosque is in the Heart of the Arab Market. Here is a slideshow of the sites I experienced.
Mary’s Well Found in Nazareth, Israel
Triumph! I found Mary’s Well according to the Eastern Orthodox Church. The men who guard and sold souvenirs at the entrance of the church were laughing because I was back again. Now, I was making everyone laugh because I was walking in circles in this small village. They were laughing at my obvious confusion. Remembering me, they teased me about being lost. Eventually, they took pity on me and gave me one of the souvenirs they were selling. Then, the guard walk me to the well.
Locals Led Me to Mary’s Well
Finally, the two men said, “We will take you to the real Well.” Off we went. Below you’ll see where the Muslims’ believe Mary’s Well is. The photo of the Muslim Mary’s Well was little and in the middle of the sidewalk with no church or shrine.
Was this the real Well? I have no idea
The Muslim Well wasn’t pretty. Not much to look at all – but the Muslim men were sure this was the real Well. It looks old enough to be the original, maybe this was where Gabrielle visited Mary. Muslim’s believe this is where Mary and her family washed. On the other side of this Well is a Muslim washing area. It has three faucets and three wash basins.
The Muslims, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox all believed they had Mary’s Well, and I think they were all right. I believe all of them. Mary probably used many wells in Nazareth. Perhaps no one knows where Gabrielle appeared. Some may argue, but each religion believes theirs is the real deal.
Time for Lunch
With all the walking in circles, I realized I was hungry and had to find some food. I asked the parking attendant who spoke English well for his recommendation. He wrote the name of the restaurant in Hebrew on a napkin so I could match the name on the napkin to the restaurant’s sign. Then, he walked me down an alley. The parking attendant pointed out his final directions. ” Go straight, left, left then a few blocks, on the right.” The instructions were good. I made it to the restaurant without any trouble.
The restaurant was in a local neighborhood, off the tourist path and about 8 -10 blocks from my car. The restaurant is in the photo below.
It was welcoming, small and quiet when I arrived. The man in the photo owns the restaurant. I proudly say I ate here.
The Food was Great in the Empty Restaurant
People came in and sat down without ordering. I ordered by pointing. Amused, the people in the restaurant were watching and giggling. They were starring and might have been talking about me. I am not sure. But it didn’t matter, I was definitely entertaining. It was low key. I was hungry, the food smelled delicious and tasted even better.
Several men came in and ordered. They asked me, are you American? Yes, I am American. Then one man brought his daughter over and introduced her to me. I guess it was strange for them to meet a woman who was walking around. A woman wandering alone, not speaking a word of Hebrew and eating alone without a tour group is odd. If I had been with a tour group, I would not have the unique experience of socializing with these nice people.
The meal was delicious, fresh and I had fun. Soon the restaurant filled up quickly. People who spoke English chatted with me while they ate.
Eating in Israel is very social.
I know tours come here and a solo woman may stand out, but Nazareth felt safe, to me. One point to note is that my dress is casual and very conservative. This style of dress helps me fit into most places when I travel. My scarf on my shoulders, not over my head and modest dress make me feel comfortable. Wear long pants or a long skirt or dress.
At the end of the day in Nazareth, around 4:00 pm, I walked to the tourist office to find out which was the real Mary’s Well, where Gabrielle appeared. The office was across the street from a Mosque and is Nazareth’s official tourist office. The Call to Pray grew louder as I entered her room. The men walked down the street two by two, three by three and one by one from every direction into the square. As I entered, she locked the door behind me. My expression asked, why? Was it break time?
“Do not be afraid,” She said.
I wasn’t afraid. The why look on my face was my attempt at asking. “Why are you locking the door?”
She didn’t say anything more. The agent couldn’t say exactly where Mary’s Well was or maybe she didn’t want to be controversial and pick the wrong one for me.
That is how my day ended in Nazareth. Israel. Back in the car, I drove to Jerusalem. I had a hotel booked in the Arab section of Jerusalem.
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