Bethany and the tomb of Lazarus (John 11)

The home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, was in Bethany, about 3,3 km from Jerusalem on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives (John 11:1, 18; according to John 1:19-28, there was another Bethany “on the other side of the Jordan”, where John the Baptist ministered). The Bethany of Lazarus is today called el-Azariyeh, a name that preserves its association with Lazarus. Because of the close relationship between Jesus and the family of Lazarus, Jesus made Bethany the base of His Jerusalem ministry during Passion Week (Mark 11:11).

Excavations carried out by the Franciscans at Bethany have uncovered the remains of Christian churches dating back to the fourth century A.D. Of particular interest is the tomb of Lazarus. Eusebius remarked that Lazarus’ tomb was a pilgrimage site during his day, and the presumed site remains so today. The tomb has been modified: Its original entrance was on the east, but now it is entered from the north side. Although it is impossible to verify that this is in fact the tomb of Lazarus, the tradition for this site is very old and should not be regarded as particularly suspect.

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