Kathisma Well has been closed in the ’70s because of the Establishment of Gilo and other Settlements in the Area, the Well of Kathisma has been there for a while, and according to another reference it is also mentioned that it was on the way between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Front of Har Homa there is Valley that is very fertile, everything was grown there even in antiquity – Wadi Al Shami, People would go there and plant Apricots and Apples and other fruits and vegetables, and even different kinds of apricots, and was one of the Best Apricots in the Area, even Figs that have been collected on Two Seasons, Later on, after 1948, it became part of Israeli Controlled Areas.
The Tantur Ecumenical Institue, the First Talk after 1054 that happened the Excommunication till 1964, it was the first place where have been first Christian dialogue between the East and West Churches, it became as the visit of Pope Paul Paul VI, and they met in the Mount of Olives and we met him he told him it has been 500 years since we first talked, and there hasn’t been any communication Between Catholics and Orthodox.
Tantur meaning let us start with abshalom tomb, Tantur mean it is the high ground on the High hill you can see all the area from there, so it was a pretty strategic location, and since then every new people meet there.
Tantur is part of the Notre-Dame Unversity and they bought it from Malta as we know, Today if we visit the Tantur they have lots of Activities and Educational Programs and lectures to learn the history of the land and theology and field trips for weeks and even communication between different Christian denominations and other religions also such as Muslims and jews, there goal and Mission encourage social rights and exploring human rights and also Guest House and also Hostel of Maltese.
Before the Tantur it was belonging to Austro-Hungarian and Emperor at that time Francis Joseph and while also you see Marble column have a name on it of Emperor Francis and he also opened Street number 6, and the one who have been supervised the purchasing of the land is Count Bernard Caboga.
Also Tower of Jacob also the Tantur was named, and also Ephrata they believed this was the Area also.
The First time the place was opened as Hospice in the Order of Malta , and later on, they opened a Clinic, it was very common for the knight of Malta they are military government and their mission is medical military so it was very common for them to open such thing, and this tradition remained the same from the 12th Century and they have more than tens of thousands of medical staff all over the world.
at one Time the Salesians they used this place and later on it has been used as Internment Camp and later there have been lots of conflict in that Area and later on in 1957 the Order of Malta needed the place for its own work and later on in 1964 The Pople Paul IV visited the holy land and was interested in dialogue and it have been delayed the opening because the conflict that was going on there at that time.
The Old way from Bethlehem the British first people to open the roads we see today in the 1920’s , when people want to go to Jerusalem to Bethlehem they went through route there pass by the Tantur, and Also local Arabs called it Tantur Firaoun, it looks like Pharaoh’s Hat and it looks like that and that is why they called it Pharaoh’s Hat.
in Summary, the Ecunmical council and also the place is great to view and strategic location and also Pope Paul 6th who visited this place and made first communication and also it started melting the tension in 1964, and they greeted each other there, and because of that the Tantur was open for Ecumenical Dialogue, and they are well known and part of Notre Dam Unversity and before that it was Emperor Joseph who bought the land and also was named at one time Tower of Jacob and it started as hospice then as medical Clinic.
When you think about Rachel you think about motherhood many people especially jews they think about Rachel and pray for Rachel for easy pregnancy, from the 4th Century we know about Rachel Tomb from Eusebius and Bordeaux pilgrim and mention the tomb as being located 4 miles from Jerusalem, Later on there have been Tomb approximately 6 KM from Jerusalem and in the 7th Century, it has become Stone Pyramid.
Anonymous Pilgrim of Bordeaux he made pilgrimage and wrote many things and it is the first guiding Book to visit the holy land, both of them told us there is a tomb 6 KM and which match with current tomb here, Muqaddasi came from Jerusalem Best Knowledge in knowing the region but he didn’t mention anything about Rachel tomb during the Tenth Century maybe not important to him or the site was neglected so before the crusades it was neglected most likely, later at the times of the Crusades we start to hear about it, the Madissi we know from him that Omar Al Khattab prayed inside the Nativity southern place and not only for Christians but also for Muslims.
During the Crusader period it was a Dome with Wall and was confirmed by Muhammad Al Idrisi and also Benjamin of Tudela, according to the description of the travelers of the first Jewish to describe the Tomb till late 18th century there have been a tomb and stones and he placed a stone at her gravesite and Jacob covered them with one large stone.
Muhammad Al Idrisi says the mother of Joseph and benjamin that the site is covered by Twelve Stones and above it is a dome vaulted.
Sarcophagus Shape was changed in the 14th Century and it was known that women used to gather stones from Rachel Tomb as a charm for an easy Delivery.
Fr. Amico around 1596 has left us a drawing where we see the empty tomb in the middle of a chapel in the four side walls there were archways.
It was later Reinnovated by the Ottomans and also Muhammad Pasha gave Jews the right to its exclusive use, the Current Shape of that place at the time of Muhammad Pasha and he changed the Structure and made it what used to be and later on it was closed because the shepherds and sheep to get inside this holy place.
in 1841 Rachel Tomb has been renovated and made two places for Sephardi and other for Askenazi, Sephardi is the eastern jew and Ashkenazi Western Jew, and because of that, the Ottomans gave firman recognizing Jewish rights at Rachel Tomb.
Also, it is belief that the closer you’re the holy place the more rewards you will get to heaven which is the Ta’amreh Tribe began burying their dead’s near Rachel Tomb in the 18th Century.
October and November the traditional Anniversary of Rachel Death.
in 2010 the Israeli Government Decided to include Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Israel’s Offical List of National Heritage Sites.
UNESCO switched the name Bilal Ben Rabah – Bilal Ben Rabah the first person to call for prayer at time of prophet Mohammad and prophet told him why don’t you go and start the prayer and he was one of the companions of the prophets and when the prophet felt so so sad, it would be the first time he would call for prayer after the death of Muhammad till the time the Muslims conquest of Jerusalem, on his way out of Bethlehem to Jerusalem the prayer time has been called, and most likely he asked caliphate, Omar, can I pray here? so it has been a Maqam – Maqam is passing by of someone or important event, and the area has been called Mosque of Bilal Ben Rabah, also there is Bilal Maqam in Jordan and also Bilal Tomb in Damascus.
After Tanzimat Bethlehem became more to European Style and Bethlehem started to have lots of New Buildings and New Councils all at that time, and Bethlehem started to expand after the Gatehouse of Bethlehem, and also they started to do the imports and exports, and the Bethlehemites got very high statues and rankings comparing to the local communities at that time, Hermas Palace, Jacir Palace, and Handal Palace are just examples of the Castles in Bethlehem.
We started to have new Buildings like Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, and we had new monasteries like Al Carmelites and Al Delasal, and at that time the Education was very good and also lots of western influence to the Bethlemites, Now about Jacir Palace, Yousif Jacir was a Chieftain at that time and supported by the Ottoman Government and he was very reputed person and was well known for mother of pearl carvings and for collecting taxes for the Ottoman Empire and register all newborns in Bethlehem and he had five sons all of them were in merchants but most important of his sons Soliman Yousif Jacir.
Soliman opened a Business in France and even the Ottmon Council was always happening with Soliman Jacir and even Sultan Abdul Hamid II gave him special golden embroidery, and also Pope Pius 10th gave him a medal, Jacir people were very hospitable and the Jacir Palace and family were very generous people even Jabra Ibrahim Jabra mentioned in one of his book the generosity of Jacir and they were very wealthy landowners in Bethlehem, and he was Mayor of Bethlehem for 8 years, the Construction of Jacir palace was built on about 5000 M2, every floor about 800 M2
the Construction was built in France and some say Morcos Nassar the architect, and the one who built it Issa Hazbon and JEries Anastas and at about 1910 in Bethlehem alone there were about 500 builders and stonemasons in Bethlehem.
Najeeb Al Hawawini the first Writer of his time and he wrote at the entrance and also he got a European painter named Marco and he painted the french countryside inside the Jacir Palace, also you can see the first two letters in metal SJ which means Soliman Jacir.
the Palace shows the Eastern and Western mix and also the Jacir Palace talks a lot about the People of that time and you will see a Star with Helal which means he was a mayor or governor at that time (Soliman Jacir )
The Design is amazing the courtyard and many people who get married these days they go to jacir Palace to have their wedding photos there, and also it have some biblical scenes the paintings there, but the story of the Jacir palace was sad ending, the palace has been used as palace was an Army HQ and a prison at time of British mandate.