vendredi 26 octobre 2012

Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal

The name of the two mountains: Gerizim and Ebal does not appear in the four Gospels. But Mount Gerizim was told (1 time) in Jn 4:20. The Samaritan woman said to Jesus at the Jacob’s well: “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (4:20). 

Jacob’s well is near Mount Gerizim; on its summit, there had been a Samaritan Temple. Therefore, in the mind of the Samaritan woman, “this mountain” (4:20) means Mount Gerizim; it is right before her eyes. This is the location of Mounts Gerizim and Ebal on the map:

 From Bible History Online

In the days of Joshua, Mounts Gerizim and Ebal were sites for the recitation of blessings and curses. The narrator relates in Jos 8:32-34: “32 There, in the presence of the people of Israel, he [Joshua] wrote upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. 33 And all Israel, sojourner as well as homeborn, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded at the first, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law” (RSV-SCE). This is a photo of Mounts Gerizim and Ebal nowadays:

Photo from

Mount Gerizim on the left, Mount Ebal on the right.

Mount Gerizim is in Samaria, about 2,849 feet (868 meters) above the level of the Mediterranean Sea, and 800 feet (244 meters) above the valley at its foot. Mount Ebal is 3,076 feet (938 meters) above sea level, and 1,200 feet (366 meters) above the valley at its foot. (See more details in and Between these two mountains is the ancient Shechem. Sychar (Askar) was located at the base of Mount Ebal and Jacob’s well was south of the town in the direction of Mount Gerizim.

According to Josephus, Sanballat built a temple for the Samaritans on this mountain, and instituted their own priests, as rivals to those of the Jews at Jerusalem (cf. Josephus Ant. 11:8,2-4). The religious tension between the Jews and the Samaritans led to the destruction of the temple on Gerizim by John Hyrcan in the 2nd century BCE, after it had stood there for two hundred years. When Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire, a Christian octagonal church was built on the summit of Gerizim in 475 CE. Then the church was destroyed by the Muslims in the eighth century. (See WALKER, In the Steps of Jesus, 2006, p. 89). Here following image shows the ruins of the Byzantine octagonal Church on Mount Gerizim:

Photo by Ron Peled

Photo From Illustrated Dictionary

The information about Mounts Gerizim and Ebal, from the Old Testament, New Testament and other available sources today will help readers to understand the message of Jesus’ encounters with the Samaritans in Jn 4:1-43.

October 27, 2012

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