>  Top Tour Destinations in Northern Israel   >  Nain – Where Jesus Resurrected the Widow’s Son


Located 8 miles southeast of Nazareth, Nai’n (also called ‘Nein,’ ‘Nin’, or ‘Naim’) is a small Arab village in lower Galilee. Christian pilgrim Groups often miss the site, yet it bears a church commemorating a miracle Jesus performed here some 2,000 years ago.

Nain and the New Testament

An event documented only in the Gospel of Luke (7:11-17) presents a truly miraculous event performed by Jesus. After healing the centurion’s Servant (or one of the king’s men, in the version of John’s gospel), Jesus and his disciples are recorded as visiting Nain. At the village’s gate, they notice a funeral procession. The only son of a widow had died. Having compassion on her, Jesus decided to act:

“Then he came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried [him] stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So the dead man sat up and began to speak. And he presented him to his mother. Fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us” and, “God has visited His people” (Luke 7:14-16).

Tracking Nain

Nain is identified with certainty on the eastern side of the lower Galilee, as the current Arab village bears a very similar name (Nein or Nin). Despite its reference in the New Testament, only a few pilgrims visited it in antiquity. The reason for that could be indicated in the accounts of the few who did see the site. In 1664, for example, a French monks visiting the site wrote:  “In the village are one hundred Arab families, wild as leopards, and therefore only a few Christians come here. And there is no sign of the house of the widow.”

Touring Nain

nain-church-frontIn 1880, the Franciscans built a church in the village to commemoratethe miracle. Today, the church is maintained by a local Arab family and is open only when groups of pilgrims visit the site. The church is rather humble. Its interior bears two paintings, a pillar, and a stone coffin. Remains that could be linked to the miraculous event described in Luke 7 are still waiting to be revealed, such as houses, stone coffins, or the gate and walls mentioned during the funeral procession. Salvage excavations conducted at the site have so far uncovered remains of a building from the Mamluk period (13th-14th century CE) and only a few small finds from the Roman and Byzantine periods (1st-7th century CE).

Nain and Shunem

Nain is only a short distance from Shunem, where a surprisingly similar event is documented in the Old Testament. According to the Book of Kings (II, 4:8-37), in Shunem, Elisha raised from the dead as the son of a woman who had sheltered him. Perhaps that is why the mourners at Nain responded to the miracle performed by Jesus by crying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” (Luke 7:16), assimilating Jesus with the Biblical prophet Elisha. Shunem is identified as the Arab village of Sulam, 5 km south of Nein. On different occasions, archaeological excavation in the town uncovered finds from various antiquity periods, including the Old Testament.

A tour of the Church of Nain can be combined with a day tour in the north.

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