Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories host three great monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. On my visit to Jacob's Well, near Balata, I found a major Christian site, tended by a kindly Muslim man, Mohammed (and assisted by his 4-year-old grandson). Jacob's Well is the place where Christian's believe a Samaritan woman offered Jesus a drink of water, and he then revealed to her that he was the Messiah, which he didn't do that often. This is reflected in the parable: "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" (John 4:13-14). A Byzantine church destroyed in the Samaritan revolt of 529 was replaced by a Crusader church, which is currently being restored single-handedly by a kindly old, gnome-like Byzantine priest. In 1979, a group of Jewish settlers claiming biblical ownership of the spot tried to occupy it. The monk tending the site was murdered, with an axe, but the settlers did not succeed in their endeavor. The current priest (pictured above) has had various attempts on his life from the settlers, while he has defended the site.
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