Jacob’s Well – not always a place of peace

Yesterday we visited Jacob’s Well.  It is located on the outskirts of Nablus near the Balata refugee camp. There is now a beautiful Orthodox church now built over and around the well.

Jacob's Well Palestine, near Nablus

Jacob’s Well Palestine, near Nablus

Jacob's Well Palestine, near Nablus

There is a beautiful Orthodox church built over and around Jacob’s Well Palestine, near Nablus

The priest, Abuna Loustinos, (picture below), came from Greece  55 years ago and is  largely responsible for the building of the church.  In the building of the church  he has included his own tomb which is ready to receive him when his time comes.

Abuna Loustinos' tomb

The tomb of Abuna Loustinos – ready for occupancy

Fr. Abuna Loustinos and Fr. Ibrahim at Jacob's Well

Fr. Abuna Loustinos and Fr. Ibrahim at Jacob’s Well

Jacob’s  Well and  the archaeological sites nearby  have been continuously recorded down through the ages and are some of the most authentic sites in Palestine. The well  is mentioned in the Bible in connection with the Prophet Jacob, the son of Isaac and the father of 12 sons who became the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. My knowledge of the Bible is very limited – to expand on Jacob I  have to consult the Internet – and you can do that as easily as I can!  So this is a very important site for the Jews. I am hoping to learn that devout Jews who come in peace are welcomed to come and bide awhile in this holy place.

Jacob's Well, near Nablus Palestine

Jacob’s Well, near Nablus Palestine

Jacob’s Well is  also the well in John 4  where Jesus meets the woman at the well. There are some beautiful wall paintings and icons in the church depicting  this meeting.

Father Ibrahim worked the windlass to raise a pail of clear cool  water from this ancient, deep well. After we drank some of the pure water from the well, we emptied a cupfull of  the water back in and waited to hear it hit the bottom. It took three full seconds. (If my math was good enough I could calculate the exact depth!)

drinking water at Jacob's Well

Drinking water at Jacob’s Well

The area at one time was also known a the biblical city of Shechem and there are some archaeological remains from that time (exposed walls and foundations ) not far from the church and Jacob’s Well.

The area is also reputed to be the site Joseph’s (the one with the fancy coat!) tomb, but this is disputed by the Jewish settlers living in the nearby illegal settlements. This sometimes results in  the scene of ugly conflict.

Sadly, in the past, the church itself has being the scene of terrible violence with the death of the Archimandrite Philoumenos, the custodian who was hacked to death by settlers in November 1979. He was declared a saint thirty years after his martyrdom in 2009 by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

I do not want to include a photograph of the wall mural depicting his death, it is just too painful – too shocking, especially today, the day he is memorialized in a service at the church.

I was reminded that  my hope is that this place will be a place of peace and never again see the horrible violence that it has seen in the past either at the church of the site of Joseph’s tomb.

Mel Nov 29 2016



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