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Nazareth in the First Century

By Eva Marie Everson
Guest Writer Imagine stepping into a place within the Holy Land that transports you back in time, specifically to First Century Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up.

More amazing than the experience of being there is hearing how it all came to be, a large parcel of ancient farmland perched to the left above modern-day Nazareth, as though just waiting to be unearthed by the Village developers. Here, were found wine and olive presses as well as other evidences of life when Jesus lived among her citizens.

Today, the people of The Nazareth Village welcome visitors from all over the world to a simpler era and yet a time when life was considered anything but easy. Nothing that could be used for daily survival was left out as village life swirled around family, society, and the synagogue.

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After we entered The Nazareth Village and were met by then director Shirley Roth, our small band of media journalists was escorted by a young woman of no more than twenty-two, through a doorway which held a doorway within it.

“The eye of the needle,” she explained with a sweep of her hand.

Seven pair of eyes widened as we came to understand an often-debated verse of scripture.

Doors opened inward. If a friend came to visit, no problem. But what if a visitor was not a friend at all? This left the homeowner defenseless. However, having a small door within a larger door, gave the homeowner a method of preparation. In order for the visitor to enter, they had to stoop. It's difficult to be pushy when you're all bent over.

We were fascinated by this door. A sudden perception as to the words of Jesus: Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24).

Through the door we came to what could have been anyone’s home in First Century, but more specifically the home of a carpenter. Close quarters called for close relationships. What some might see as cramped came across was warm and homey.

Any interested archeologist will hit paydirt upon exiting the visitor’s center and stepping outdoors into the recreated village. Along stone-strewn paths and sloping knolls, the Nazareth of Jesus’ day comes to life. Along the way we saw a shepherd with his flock in an olive grove, a carpenter in his shop, and a woman working hard to spin thread for making fabrics within her “home.” As we step from path to terraces made of fieldstones we come to a wine press and then onward to the olive press where a man pushes his donkey in the process of crushing oil from the fruit of the trees outside.

Inside the synagogue, we catch a glimpse of what worship would have been like for the Holy Family and those with whom they lived among. We saw the scrolls of God’s Word rolled up and tucked away in urns. We marveled at the “air conditioning” system devised by First Century dwellers. Windows cut high and angled just so allowed for warm air to escape and cooler air to cross circulate.

Upon leaving the “First Century” we returned to our present time by walking into a gift shop, richly scented with herbs and spices, and brimming over with memorabilia.

The Nazareth Village is truly not to be missed when coming to Israel. The stories of Jesus come to life, his life comes to our understanding, and leaving means only hoping to return again soon.

Related stories:

Nazareth Village from CBN News

Five Things You Didn't Know About Nazareth

Israel's Paradise: Tel Dan

Masada: The Heroic Jewish Stand

Israel: The Fifth Gospel

More from Eva Marie Everson on Israel

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Eva marie EversonEva Marie Everson is the co-author of the award-winning Reflections of God’s Holy Land: A Personal Journey Through Israel (Thomas Nelson). Eva Marie Everson is the coauthor of Reflections of God’s Holy Land; A Personal Journey Through Israel. For more information about Eva Marie, the book, or to have her come speak to your group, go to: Eva Marie encourages everyone to go to Israel! You will never be the same!

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