Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Nablus is allegedly one of the oldest cities in the world, possibly established 9000 years ago (so the leaflet reads...). Named "Shechem" it was the capital of Samaria from the OLd Testament, home of the famous samaritans! In AD70 the Romans obliterated Shechem, and set up Flavbia Neapolis (New City) which was eventually corrupted to read 'Nablus. The city was destroyed again in AD636, by the conquering Arabs, who proceeded to convert Christian shrines to mosques.

The Old City dates back to Ottoman times, though there's even remains of a 7000-seater Roman ampitheatre just outside the city. Modern-day Nablus is the second-largest city in the West Bank, with 200,000 inhabitants, situated in the narrow valley between Mount Eibal and Mount Jarzeem, both amongst the highest peaks in the Holy Land.

Nablus has three refugee camps, the two largest being established in 1950 on a total of 115 acres with a combined population of 40,000 refugees. The population density is one of the highest in the world. There are schools run by the U.N. where children go to school in three shifts, due to the overcrowding.

At the entrance to Balata, the largest camp in the West Bank (20,000 people) there is 'Jacob's Well. This entry in the LOnely PLanet nearly had me choking on my coffee: "Jacob's Well is the spot where Christians believe a Samaritan woman offered Jesus a drink of water, and he then revealed to her that he was the Messiah (john 4:13-14)".

I don't know about you, but sometimes there is just to much Monty Python in the ol' memory banks to take this seriously. Maybe he wasn't the Messiah, just a very naughty boy, and we're still seeing the results of bad parenting all these years later?

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