BETHANY (Heb. Bet Aniyya, Bet Hananyah), a village about 1¾ mi. (3 km.) E. of Jerusalem, frequently mentioned in the Gospels (Mark 11:1; 14:3; Matt. 21:17; Luke 19:29; etc.). According to Christian tradition, it was the home of the sisters Mary and Martha, with whom Jesus lodged, and the scene of the resurrection of their brother Lazarus after he had been interred for four days (John 11). At the end of the fourth century, the Byzantines built a church and adjoining monastery at Bethany which was renovated in the following century. It was named after Lazarus, and from this comes the Arabic name of the village, al-ʿAzariyya. During the Crusader period, the church was regarded as the property of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and it underwent extensive alterations. It was destroyed in the 16th century and a Greek monastery stands in its place. The ancient site of the church was apparently near the present Catholic monastery Raʾs al-Shayyāḥ. Remains of ancient buildings and tombs dating from the period of the Second Temple and later have been uncovered there. A cistern from the Second Temple period, which served as a shrine in Byzantine times, has Christian-Greek graffiti on its plastered walls. It was discovered in 1949–53 together with oil presses, cisterns, and numerous tombs of later periods.
G. Dalman, Sacred Sites and Ways (1935), index; Benoit and Boismard, in: RB, 58 (1951), 200–50; S.J. Saller, Excavations at Bethany (1957).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.