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Nebi Samuel from the south | by sethfrantzman
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Nebi Samuel from the south

Grave of the Prophet Samuel in the West Bank, Nebi Samwil as it was called in the 19th century is an ancient site and commands the entire northern apprach to Jerusalem. However because of its distance from the Jerusalem-Damascus road it is not a stretegic site and was not fortified. According to Benjamin of Tudela, the great Jewish traveller, the bones of the prophet Samuel(Shmuel) were removed from Ramlah because of the approach of the Crusaders and brought to the current site. The Crusaders took the site anyway and built a church atop it in 1157. It was a fief of the Holy Sepulchre in the 12th century. At some point, probably in the 13th century, the Muslims turned it into a mosque, as they did with most of the Crusader and Christian churches in the Holy Land after Saladins and Baybars conquest of the country (obviously this was not the case with the Sepulchre or the Nativity). An 1874 sketch of the sited done by Conder and Kitchener as part of the PEF study shows a structure and ruins as it appears today. Little has changed. The nearby Arab village is called a "small hamlet of mud hovels" by the PEF and is said to sit on other Crusader ruins. The PEF located the remains of the Crusader church but do not discuss the quite extensive ruins that are now visible around the site.


These ruins seem to indicate that the site predates the Crusaders. The question of Jewish pilgrimage is interesting. According to I Samuel 25:1, the prophet Samuel was buried at his home in Ramah. The PEF don't mention Jewish pilgrimage to the site, perhaps because Jews were forbidden from entering the mosque as was the case in Hebron until 1967. Either way today the Kevar is preserved and people pray at it, but it is not as popular a site as Kevar Rachel.


Muslims evidently regard the site as sacred and large numbers of them come up to it. The building is thus shared between Muslims and Jews, with the western part used by Jews and the eastern part by Muslims. But there is no visible guard at the site and it seems the visitors get along reasonably.



קבר שמאול \נבי סמואל

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Taken on January 4, 2007