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good samaritan inn churchThe Good Samaritan Inn is a historical and archaeological landmark in the Judean Desert, 10 km east of Jerusalem. The site is associated with the biblical parable of the good Samaritan, as told in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 10:25-37). Israel’s National Parks Authority developed the site to combine a restored Byzantine-era church with a unique mosaic-themed museum.

The Good Samaritan Parable

In Luke 10 Jesus is challenged with a question – What is needed to inherit eternal life? Part of his answer quotes Leviticus 19:18: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”.  But he then presents a parable:  “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.” No one cared for him  “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds.. and took care of him. 

Jesus concluded: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-37).


Why Did the Event Happen in the Judean Desert?

Why did Jesus choose the route between Jerusalem and Jericho to portray a dangerous road? Two thousand years ago, the answer was obvious. Jerusalem and Jericho were essential sites in antiquity, but the road between the two passed through the rough and dry terrain of the Judean Desert. Hot and shadeless, only nomads utilized this region, as Bedouin encampments do to this day.

History of the Good Samaritan Inn

In the Byzantine Periods Christians recognized identified the Good Samaritan Inn on the side of Jerusalem-Jericho road and constructed a basilica-shaped church. The site provided also road services for pilgrims heading to Jericho and the Baptism site. Later, the Crusaders abandoned the church, but maintained a road station at the site. They also built a fort on the adjacent hilltop, whose remains are visible today. Later, the local Arabs called the site “Khan el Hatruri” – ‘The inn of the hungry,’ echoing a memory that the site once accommodated travelers.

At the turn of the 21st century, the site was excavated and developed into a unique museum exhibiting a variety of ancient mosaic floors discovered in this region.

Touring the Good Samaritan Inn

The Good Samaritan Inn is a national park. It is open every day from 8:00 to 17:00. The museum’s setting combines the old local stone structure with a modern glass and metal hall. Most interesting is the display of Samaritan mosaics and photos of their rituals, presenting this tiny yet proud community. The Byzantine church is now refurbished, allowing Christian pilgrim groups even to conduct services at the site.

A tour of the Good Samaritan Inn can be combined with a day tour of the Dead Sea.

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