by Yael Adar
It is perhaps appropriate that the place identified as home of Zachariah and Elizabeth and the birthplace (according to Christian tradition), of their son, John the Baptist is also home to the World of the Bible Gardens, full-scale archaeological replicas that help interpret the scriptures.
The gardens are located southwest of Jerusalem, in the quaint village of Ein Karem, which literally means Spring of the Vineyard. According to the Christian tradition, Ein Karem is the City of Judah that is mentioned in the Gospel.
Exhibits are divided into the lives of: the shepherd, farmer, village and Jesus in Jerusalem. Whether it’s an olive oil press, a farmer’s threshing floor a rock quarry, or a Herodian Tomb, that gives insights into the burial rituals of the time, (which did not include individual burial but rather family graves), visitors will gain a better appreciation for what life in the Promised Land must have been like in ancient times. The replica of the quarry tripod and hoisting wheel (see photo) is typical of a Byzantine era stone quarry.
The gardens include a shaded roof garden that can accommodate as many as 150 people. There are picnic tables for box lunches or catered meals that can be ordered. The Upper Room features a replica of a triclinium (dinning area) where meals are offered four times a day. A bookstore, “The Source”, offers a variety of books, maps, videos etc.
The focus here is clearly Christian, but in addition to Christian pilgrims, others will no doubt find the place to be most instructive. The goal of the World Bible Gardens is to serve people who are descendants of the three Patriarchal Religions: Jews, Christians and Moslems.
The World of the Bible Gardens is located at 13 Ahayot Street, Ein Karem.
Visiting Hours: Daily 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM.
Entry fees apply.