The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Map of Journeys near Jerusalem

Map 10  Journeys near Jerusalem

 

Lk. 10:25-37   Jesus is asked by a teacher of the Jewish law what he should do to receive eternal life. Jesus tells him a story about a Jewish man who is going down from Jerusalem to Jericho (see Map 10) when he is attacked by ‘bandits’, stripped of his possessions, beaten up and left half-dead (see the feature on Jewish Nationalists in Section 21).

Two respectable members of the Jewish religious community who assist at the Temple in Jerusalem – a priest and a Levite (see Exodus 28:1-5 & Leviticus 8:5-22) – pass the man without helping him as they would become ritually ‘unclean’ for seven days if the man died (see Numbers 19:11-16 & Leviticus 21:1-4). A Samaritan – a member of the mixed-race community despised and hated by the Jews (see John 4:4-9) – sees the man and has pity on him, even though he has often been verbally abused by Jews himself. He bandages the Jewish man’s wounds and takes him to a travellers’ inn (or 'caravanserai') used by Samaritans and other Gentiles – where he gives the 'innkeeper' two silver denarii (two day’s wages) to look after the man until he recovers.

Jesus shows the teacher of the Jewish law that love for one’s neighbour is more important in God’s eyes than adhering to Jewish religious rituals. The religious teacher should show mercy like the non-Jewish Samaritan man if he wishes to gain eternal life.

 

Beside the road down to Jericho

Beside the road from Jerusalem down to Jericho  (Luke 10:30)

 

Wadi Qilt

Jericho is located about 800 ft / 2400 m below sea level some 17 miles / 27 km east of Jerusalem in the Jordan Valley. The modern highway from Jerusalem to Jericho descends 3300 ft / 1000 m through a rocky, barren desert, and the old road passed through a narrow, steep-sided gorge on its final descent to the Jordan Valley (see Map 10). The road was notoriously dangerous at this point and bandits were common. The perils of such a journey would have been well known in Jesus’s day.

Today, travellers from Jerusalem to Jericho are more likely to see traditional Bedouin arab encampments on the rocky slopes alongside the highway. The traditional site of the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’ is commemorated by the remains of St Euthymius Church, built in the 5th century alongside the main road to Jericho, some 6 miles / 10 km east of Jerusalem. Opposite the ruins of the church, tourists can still stay at the Good Samaritan Inn, built in the 16th century as a caravanserai (overnight hostelry) for caravan traders.

At Wadi Qilt, where the old track leaves the modern road, visitors can hike down the steep-sided gorge to the isolated Monastery of St George of Koziba perched high up on the precarious cliffs overlooking the dried-up river bed. The monastery was originally built in the 5th century, but was later destroyed by Persian invaders. It was restored by the Greek Orthodox Church at the beginning of the 20th century. The climb up the Wadi Qilt from Jericho to Jerusalem is referred to in the Old Testament as the Ascent of Adumim (see Joshua 15:17).

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