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Legends of Bethlehem

Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 17.03.2006:

To the north of Bethlehem, on the way from Jerusalem to Bethlehem at a distance of one kilometre from the town, there are some fields known as the “Basins of Peas.” The tale attached to this site is very famous. It is said that Jesus Christ (in some tales the Virgin Mary or Saint Joseph) were passing by those parts when he saw a peasant sowing peas. He asked him, “What are you sowing?” The peasant replied briefly, “Stones.” Whereupon Jesus answered, “Very well, then you will reap stones.” And it was as he said. In the harvest time, when the sewer came to collect his product, you cannot imagine how great his shock was when he found nothing but petrified peas. Visitors to that place have, until recently, kept some stones that looked like peas.

At a distance of approximately two kilometres to the north of Bethlehem lies the Convent and Church of Mar Elias, situated on a hill overlooking Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Beit Sahour. Opinions differ about the origins of the name of the convent. According to one opinion, Prophet Elias (Eliyah) was running from the wife of Ahab, the King of Israel, and rested on the hill on which the convent was eventually built. There an angel appeared to him in his sleep, asking him to rise and eat, as his journey to Beersheba was quite long.

The following proverb was originally used to refer to the squint-eyed. It is also used for the dishonest greedy person, who tries to earn money from many directions, hence: “He keeps one eye on Artas and one eye on Mar Elias.”

Source: The proverb is from Religious stories from Bethlehem.

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