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Aussie_traveller / Uncategorized / West Bank and the Samaritans
West Bank and the Samaritans
We headed out with the guide that Travelujah had put us in touch with to go to the West Bank. After leaving our hotel in Tel Aviv we went first to the Sidney Ali Misque just north of Herzliya, and then to Apollonia to see the crusader castle. From there we drove into the West Bank to find the Biblical sites we wanted to see. It was amazingly easy to get into the West Bank. We simply drove in and were not stopped at the point of entry. Throughout the West Bank we found that former check points were now not in use. Our plan was to go first to Tel Shiloh, bud sadly when we reached there we found it was closed and the gate was shut. Disappointed, we went on into Nablus (the site of Biblical Shechem). I think we would have found it a little daunting to go there if we did not have a guide who spoke Arabic. We were the only tourists in the area and we needed to find somehwere for lunch. We wandered through the streets until we came to a place that sold kebabs and stopped there. We felt very conspicuous being the only non-Palestinians in the area but all the men in the little cafe were very friendly and wanted to talk to us and help us find our way around.
After having lunch and receiving explanations on the best way to get to Joseph's tomb we left and made our way through Nablus to the tomb of Joseph. Again we found our destination was closed but we weren't disappointed for long. Apparently the site is always closed, but there was a police guard just across the yard and they came out with their huge machine guns to see what we were doing there. Gil spoke to them for a few minutes and they opened the gate and allowed us to go into the tomb to see where the patriarch, Joseph, was buried. Sadly we weren't allowed to take photographs.
We drove from there to Mt. Gerizim to find out where the Samaritans of today live, in a town called Kiryat Luza. Gil was hoping to show us the museum there but once again we found the place closed. To our delight Gil was able to locate someone who was prepared to give us a tour of the museum for 100 shekels. This tour proved to be the most interesting time we cold have wished for. The gentleman wasn't simply an ordinary museum guide - though he was the person who had created the museum. The robes he was dressed in showed that there was something unusual about him - and as he explained things in the museum we discovered that this gentleman was descended from all the High Priests of the Samaritans (who trace their High Priesthood back to Aaron). his father had been High Priest, and when the elderly man who was currently High Priest passed awya then our guide would become the next High Priest. He was certainly the best person possible to learn about the history of the Samaritans. It was a fascinating time and we thoroughly enjoyed all he had to say.
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