Studium Theologicum Salesianum
Salesian Pontifical University : Faculty of Theology - Jerusalem Campus

First Archeological Excursion



29 September 2016, STS – Jerusalem
Jerome Fernando SDB


With the invocation of the Guardian Angels, we the STS students and staff members set out for the first Archeological Excursion of the year. Ramallah, Beth El, Shilo and Taybeh were the places we visited. In the morning, we entered the territory of the Palestinian Ramallah, historically an Arab Christian town located in the central West Bank. Our first visit was to the Tomb of Yasser Arafat, a Palestinian leader and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). In 1994, Yasser Arafat received the Nobel Prize for peace. In October 2004, he fell ill with flu-like symptoms and, since his situation worsened, was transported to Paris, France, for medical treatment. He died there the following month, on November 11.


After the visit to the Tomb, our next move was to Bet El, which is also located in the Region of the West Bank. Bethel, which means "House of God" is mentioned in the Bible as the site where Jacob slept and dreamt of angels going up and down a ladder (Genesis 28:19). Here, Jacob built an Altar and offered sacrifice to God. There were also many tombs, which are believed to have been built during the second Temple Period.


We then visited an ancient important place known as Shiloh. The site of ancient Shiloh is an integral part of a glorious history in the land of Israel. It is at the heart of the heritage and connection of the Jewish nation to the land of the Bible. From the beginning, through a video presentation, we were invited to have an overall view of what Shiloh is and how it became important.  Shiloh, was the spiritual and political capital of the Jewish people for 369 years. It was where the Ark or the Covenant, which had wandered with the Jewish people since their exodus from Egypt, was established.   The whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the Tabernacle of the congregation there and the land was subdued before them (Joshua 18:1).  It was also the place were Hannah prayed for a son and God heard her prayers and gave her a son. He was named Samuel and was offered to God.


After this visit, we had the lunch break and then proceeded to a city called Taybeh. It is the biblical town of Ephraim to which Jesus went with his disciples when tensions arose with the authorities after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (Cf. Jn 11:54).

The Population in Taybeh today, is Christian and among them Roman Catholic and Orthodox takes the prime places. We first visited a beer company known as TAYBEH BEER.  There we were guided by the owner Mr. Nadim Khoury who is the Master Brewer of the company. We were also enlightened by his daughter, Ms. Madees Khoury, the first female brewer in Palestine who told us about the history and the beginning of the Beer Company. We were offered a glass of Taybeh Beer to taste. We then moved on to visit the nearby Wine Producing Company, which was started three years ago.

Our final stop was to the Latin Church of the Resurrection where a French Sister gave us the history of the place.  Brother Patrick was our Translator.   We visited the Church as well as the old and still preserved remains of the ancient house known as the “Parable House”. It was a great experience to see and understand the common settings in the houses in Jesus’ time and to see the household utensils that many of the parables of Jesus mention. St. Charles de Foucauld in his writings records his retreat made in Taybeh.  

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