The biblical site of Bethany is famous for being the place where Yeshua raised Lazarus from the dead. It is located near Jerusalem on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. There are multiple other significant events in the life of Yeshua that happened here. Let’s take a deeper look into these biblical events, the churches that commemorate them, and the significance of the modern location of the site. Knowing these things will help you be prepared for visiting the site or give you important facts for a virtual trip if you do not get to visit in person.
Yeshua visited Bethany numerous times throughout His earthly life. It seemed to be a favorite place for rest and fellowship. It is important to note that this Bethany is different from Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where Yeshua was baptized.
The most well-known event that occurred here is Yeshua raising Lazarus (the brother of Mary and Martha) from the dead. This is a significant event because it foreshadowed Yeshua’s death and resurrection, which would occur roughly a week later. This event was truly “for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it” (John 11:4).
John 12 records Yeshua eating at a table with the resurrected Lazarus. At this time, Mary anoints Yeshua’s feet with very costly perfume and wipes His feet with her hair. This event occurred in Bethany, at the house of Simon the Leper, six days before the Passover after which Yeshua is crucified.
Another event that likely occurred in Bethany is the story of Mary sitting at the feet of Yeshua when Martha complains to Him that Mary isn’t helping her. The Bible doesn’t specifically state that this event happened here, but we can be fairly certain it did because of the other events that happened with Mary and Martha at their home in Bethany.
Churches have been built at Bethany since the first centuries. However, the churches that were built then have been torn down and the main entrance to Lazarus’ traditional tomb was turned into a mosque in the 14th century. The current entrance into the tomb was carved by the Franciscans in the 16th century. The entrance is located along a modern street; it leads down 27 ragged steps to the traditional burial chamber.
Just down the road from the tomb is the Church of St. Lazarus. This church is a domed church with unique mosaics that depict the biblical events that happened at Bethany.
In addition, there is a Greek Orthodox church commemorating the event that took place at the house of Simon the Leper. This church is located to the west of Lazarus’ tomb entrance.
The biblical site of Bethany is located in the midst of a modern Arab village named al-Eizariya, meaning “place of Lazarus.” The traditional tomb of Lazarus is about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from Jerusalem. Even though Bethany is close in proximity to Jerusalem, it is difficult to get to. One must travel around the lengthy wall that separates sections of the West Bank from the rest of Israel. The wall was built in 2005, making Bethany a less-visited tourist location. Nevertheless, it is not impossible to get to, and the significance of the site is truly rewarding.