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Nazareth Village is one of those more modern treasures in Israel that brings to life the ancient world from the time of Jesus. It aims to allow visitors to experience first century life and also hear the teachings and parables of Jesus in the setting that the first disciples would have known. The visionary behind this project was Dr Nakhle Bishara, who wanted to create ‘a place where visitors could see those ancient stones come to life and witness the vineyards and olive trees Jesus used to teach spiritual truth’. Now pilgrims can walk amongst the olive trees and see olives being harvested, crushed and pressed to make oil, observe the shepherds tending the sheep, watch a carpenter and a weaver carrying out their biblical trades and crafts with first-century tools and materials, walk into reconstructed stone houses and sit in an early Roman period synagogue. Visitors can also enjoy a biblical meal and buy items and produce made at the farm.

Before the village was built, extensive literary research and archaeological digs were carried out in collaboration with the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem. The digs uncovered a 2000-year-old wine press cut into the bedrock, watchtowers, terraces, a spring-fed irrigation system and stone quarries. These discoveries confirmed an original working farm just outside the city of Nazareth in Jesus’ time. The quarries may even have produced the stones that Jesus used in his trade. The Greek word tekton means a worker with his hands, and building in Galilee is done with stones, not wood, except for furniture, doors, window frames Etc.

After the research was done, the terraces were reconstructed and buildings constructed using the first-century materials and methods under the guidance of the archaeologists. The farm, on the six hectare site, is now restored to working order and since the year 2000 has been open to local and overseas visitors. Local residents, dressed in the clothing of ancient times, are employed to plant, tend and harvest the crops, fruit and animals. Thousands of Israeli school children come to learn about biblical life and times, the teachings of Jesus and hear the good news of Jesus in his childhood village.

Dr Bishara says, ‘I am excited that this dream is now a reality. I believe Nazareth Village will be a gift of peace to the world, and also to those of us who live, work and worship in a land torn by conflict.’ You can find some great on-site teaching videos on their website:

● Pray that those visiting the site, who do not know Jesus, will be convicted by the Holy Spirit and give their lives to Him (Jn 16:13-14)

● Pray for media coverage to take this gem to Israelis and the world (Ps 40:5)

● Pray for the Arab and Jewish school children who visit to be intrigued to find out more about this Nazarene who taught with such wisdom and authority (Mk 1:21-22)

Day 8: Sunday Sept 16