For thousands of years the well has been one of the focal points of village life. For men, this usually revolved around the importance of water to the irrigation of the fields. For the women whose job it was to care and tend for the flocks in times gone by, and still is in many agrarian cultures around the world, the importance of the village well was both practical and social.
The Old Testament Bible tells us that the Patriarchs Isaac and Jacob found their respective wives, Rebecca and Rachel, as they were bringing their animals to the village well, Genesis 24 & 29. Later, the New Testament Gospel of John tells of a meeting between Jesus and a Samaritan woman that takes place at Jacob’s Well in Nablus (see page 83).
Various traditions hold that the angel Gabriel first spoke to Mary by a well. They are based on the apocryphal gospels which read, “When the Virgin took the pitcher and went to draw water, behold a voice said to her: Hail, Mary full of grace. Mary saw no-one, but going into her house, while she was spinning purple wool, the angel appeared to her and said to her: Fear not, Mary …”.
A. Built by the Crusaders in the 12th century, the Church of St. Gabriel was destroyed by Muslims a hundred years later. The present structure was erected as a Greek Orthodox church in 1781.
B. Tradition says that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary as she was drawing water. Mary’s Well is Nazareth’s only spring, and is recognized by Orthodox Christians as the site where the Annunciation took place.
For centuries, Mary’s Well Fountain of the Virgin have been visited as the location of the event. The lines also gave the impetus for the building of Church of St. Gabriel by the Crusaders in the 12th century. Although no hard evidence exists, it is presumed by many that they were built on spots already hallowed by previous generations.
Other places of interest in Nazareth include The Churches of the Copts and the Maronites, the chapel known as Mensa Christi and the White Mosque, as well as the Souk – the market that is the center of the town’s commercial activities. Other sites in Nazareth connected to the life of Jesus can be found on pages 46/7 & 58/9.
A. The fountain in the center of Nazareth stands at a slight distance from the site David Roberts eagerly painted. The April 20 entry in his journal noted, “This fountain, with the groups of young women round it carrying their water jars, was more suited for a picture that anything I have seen in the Holy Land”.
B. Fed by water that rises in nearby Mary’s Well, the Fountain of the Virgin was originally constructed in 1882 and thoroughly rebuilt in 1967.
*And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the House of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Luke 1:30-33
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