Taybeh is better known to Christians as the biblical city of Ophrah, from the ancient time of Christ. The city of Ophrah has 11 specific mentions in the Old Testament, and is also known as the home to Gideon and his son Abimelech.
The city of Ophrah is then later referred to as Ephron/Ephraim in the New Testament. The town is of biblical significance to Christians, because Jesus came to the village with his disciples before facing crucifixion. As quoted in John 11:54 of the King James bible, ‘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.’
The town was later changed to the name ‘Taybeh,’ in 1187, by the Muslim leader Salahdin, and stills bears this name today.
Notably, this town has stayed entirely Christian for over 2,000 years, and is the only entirely Christian town in all of Israel-Palestine, with Christian Arabs only making up 2% of the Arab population in Israel-Palestine. The town is approximately a 20 minutes drive from Jerusalem, and is located 30 km north east of Jerusalem. Taybeh is located in the West Bank, and is not very far from the Palestinian capital of Ramallah or the Jewish Settlement of Ofra. The town has approximately 1,500 villagers-all of them Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholics.
When visiting Taybeh, there are five churches total which can be visited by tourists:
- 1. The Byzantine Ruins of St. George’s Church (Greek Orthodox-dating back to the 4th century)
- Tour the exquisite ruins of the church honoring St. George, the patron saint of Taybeh.
- 2. New St. George Greek Orthodox Church (built between 1929-1932)
- The church has about two hundred families that worship here, and is well-known for its mosaic featuring illustrating birds and flowers, dating back to the 4th century. This mosaic is now housed in a small chapel, in order to properly protect it.
- 3. Greek-Melkite Church (built in 1964)
- This is considered the smallest church in Taybeh, and is a mixture of both Eastern and Orthodox Christian tradition.
- 4. Latin Church of the Redeemer dedicated to the ‘Last Retreat of Jesus’ (1971)
- This is the largest parish of all of the churches of Taybeh, and welcomes many foreign worshippers every year. It is home to a pilgrim’s hostile and is considered one of the most important centers in Taybeh.
5. Monastery built by the French Monk, Brother Jack Frant (1990)