Like Bethany, Bethphage was a small village east of Jerusalem. It’s name (“House of the unripe figs”) hints to its agricultural role, yet in Christianity, Bethphage is famous for a different reason. According to the Gospels, upon reaching Jerusalem, at Bathphage Jesus sent his disciples to find a donkey, on which he would enter the city. After finding one, Jesus rode the donkey in a triumphal procession, with the crowds waving palm fronds at him. To this day, an annual Palm Sunday procession is conducted from Bethphage. Carrying Palm fronds, the crowd walks in prayers and hymns from Bethphage to Jerusalem.
In 2010, my Friend, Ron Peled and I, filmed at the site –
Today, Bethphage is within the Arab neighborhood of A-tur. Two churches commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem from here. The Catholic church is just behind the church of Pater Noster, on Mount of Olives. It is a humble structure, yet nicely designed. A large square stone in its main hall is said to be used by Jesus to mount on the donkey’s back. Not far from it, a Greek-Orthodox church also marks the site of Bethphage on behalf of the Eastern Churches. Its traditional Greek design and its prime location on a hilltop makes its very notable and impressive. Furthermore, its interior is a marvel of intricate wall paintings, all devoted to Christian themes.