6 min podcast by Dr. Italy discussing Bethany as a rest stop between Jericho and Jerusalem. Describes the journey Jesus would have taken, his familiarity with a particular family of Bethany, and the help this provides in understanding the story of the raising of Lazarus.
Jesus, like all Jewish men, was obliged to travel to Jerusalem at least three times a year, and probably often went more often. The most popular route led through Perea, on the east bank of the Jordan, across the river to Jericho, and then 18 miles uphill through the Judean Desert.
Mount of Olives
Before arriving at Jerusalem lay the steepest climb of all. The Mount of Olives is a two mile long ridge rising 2500 feet from the desert, shielding the city of Jerusalem from the desolate wilderness. Half-way up the eastern slope the weary, thirsty traveler comes to the first rest stop in the brutal journey. It is the village of Bethany. It was actually a convenient place to stay during the feasts, since the 100,000 pilgrims coming from all through the world could hardly fit within the walls of the Holy City. From Bethany, it was only a 30 minute walk of about a mile and a half to arrive at the Temple.
Evidently, Jesus had stayed often in Bethany over the course of the years. For he had a particularly close relationship with a family there who had most probably offered hospitality to him, his disciples, and perhaps even his relatives, when they were in town for the three annual feasts.
Martha and Mary, due to their special relationship with Jesus, sent word to him while he was 20 miles away in Perea, that his friend Lazarus was sick. Jesus’ decision to come to Bethany after Lazarus had died provided him with the opportunity to give glory to the Father and show clearly, in action, who he was and what he had come to this world to do. The seventh and final “sign” performed by Jesus, it summed up his entire public ministry.
This podcast discusses the geography of Bethany and the Mount of Olives along with the historical background so as to bring the meaning of Jesus’ words and deed into sharp relief.
Dr. Italy appears weekly on the Sonrise Morning show, a production of Sacred Heart Radio. You can listen to this show broadcast live Monday through Friday via the EWTN Global Catholic Radio, a network of over 120 local affiliate stations in the US. You can find podcasts from the Sonrise Morning on both Sacred Heart radio site and www.crossroadsinitiative.com.
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Banner/featured image by Adam Kring on Unsplash. Public domain.