Nestled deep into the Samarian Hills of the West Bank is a quiet, pleasant, village by name of Taybeh. While only a short geographical distance from the cities of Ramallah, Nablus and Jericho as the crow flies, the few winding roads that find their way between rocky hills and olive groves to the village in question give it a much more secluded nature, even in the increasingly cramped Holy Land.
History of Taybeh Oktoberfest
In the mid-1990s, two brothers of the Khoury family of Taybeh returned home from living abroad to begin the first micro-brewery in Palestine, founding Taybeh Beer. Today the beer is internationally exported and the brewery enters in microbrew festivals and competitions around the world. The village of Taybeh has also recently celebrated the 13th annual Oktoberfest. An event where people can drink beer and watch various shows of local and international artists such as designers, singers, rappers, performers, Dabke dancers, Henna artists, etc. Other business and social service projects have also been developed to help keep young Christians living and working in the community.
Village of Taybeh in Christianity
Although the village of Taybeh may not appear on too many maps or on the itineraries of a good number of pilgrimages, it is a place of great importance to the past, present and future of Christianity in the Holy Land.
Taybeh has been identified as the Biblical village of Ephraim, also known as Ophrah, a city of Benjamin as related in Joshua 18:21-23: “Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, and Bethhoglah, and the valley of Keziz, And Betharabah, and Zemaraim, and Bethel, And Avim, and Pharah, and Ophrah.”
In the New Testament, Taybeh (now Ephraim) is mentioned as the city that Christ retired to after the raising of Lazarus, in preparation for his Passion, in John 11:54: Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
This Biblical city acquired its Arabic name during the time of the Crusades, when the villagers, while, were considered Tayibe (In Arabic, “The Goodly) after entertaining the Islamic leader Saladin. Of particular note to this anecdote is that, as in the present, all of the villagers were Palestinian Arab Christians rather than Muslim. In the long centuries of Muslim and Ottoman rule that followed, Taybeh remained a sleepy hilltop village with only the occasional Western travelers and pilgrims documenting their visit in journals, amongst who was the Blessed Charles de Foucauld.
The Denomination of its Christians
Today, the village of Taybeh has earned the designation as being the last entirely Christian communities in the Palestinian Territories, and one of the very last in all of the Middle East.
At a population of less than 2,000, Taybeh can still be considered a village. While the village has a modern, functioning civic government, the culture of the community still functions in the traditional system of extended families known as hamouleh. There are three parishes under the three major Christian denominations of the Holy Land: Catholic, Greek Catholic, better known as Melkite (those that celebrate the liturgy in the Byzantine/Greek Orthodox tradition but are under the Catholic Church) and Greek Orthodox.
The “First Church”
A fourth church located on a hilltop in the eastern part of the Old City could better be described as the “first church,” as it is the ruins of an early Byzantine Church from the 4th or 5th century, dedicated to Saint George the Martyr, that was also used during the Crusader time. The people and churches of Taybeh continue to look after the ruins, which are both a historical and archaeological treasure as well as an interdenominational shrine for the local Christians.
On your next visit to the Holy Land, be sure to stop in Taybeh along the pilgrimage route to try a Taybeh Beer!
We, the Bethlehem Handicrafts’ team, are so proud to put the Holy Land in your hand by giving you a variety of the best and the most outstanding original Bethlehem’s olive wood carvings with the best quality made in the Holy Land.
Made by Christian Hands. Loved by Christian Hearts.