Mount Gerizim is one of the highest mountains in Samaria, set on the southern edge of Biblical Shechem (modern day Nablus).
History of Mount Gerizim
According to the Bible, after entering the Promised Land, the Israelites gathered on Mount Gerizim and its neighboring Mount Ebal for a special ceremony of blessings and curses. The Samaritans, who believe to a remnant of some of the Israelite tribes, regard Mount Gerizim as the oldest and most sacred mountain in the word. Furthermore, by Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim was the mountain chosen by the Lord to be the place of his temple, rather than Jerusalem. And indeed, in antiquity the Samaritans had a temple complex at its top, similar in dimensions to the temple describe in the book of Ezekiel. The Samaritan Temple was destroyed by the Hasmoneans, some 2200 years ago. Centuries later, following a Samaritan revolt, the Byzantine emperor Zenon ordered the erection of a church over its remains. This church was later destroyed as well, and today the only standing structure on the mountain top is a Muslim tomb. Nevertheless, extensive archaeological work conducted on the mountain top, by an Israeli expedition, uncovered much of the site’s past.
Visiting Mount Gerizim
Being in the heart of the West Bank, visiting Mount Gerizim is limited, and depends on the level of political tension in the region. The site is a both a sacred destination for Samaritans, and a National park. The neighboring Samaritan village of Kiryat Luza welcomes visitors before or after touring Mount Gerizim, to learn about the Samaritans and their heritage.