|Governorate||Ramallah and al-Bireh|
|Elevation||850 m (2,790 ft)|
Taybeh (Arabic: الطيبة) is a Palestinian village in the West Bank, 15 kilometers northeast of Jerusalem and 12 kilometers northeast of Ramallah in the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate, 850 meters above sea level. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Taybeh had a population of 1,452 in 2007. It is the last all-Christian community in the West Bank.
Taybeh has been identified as the site of Ophrah, mentioned in the Bible (Book of Joshua 18:23) as a town of Benjamin, which was later renamed Ephraim. However the word "Ophrah" was close in sound to "afrit" (Arabic: عفريت) meaning "demon" in Arabic. Under Saladin, the name was changed to "Taybeh", "The goodly".
According to local tradition, Saladin met a delegation of Aphram inhabitants during his wars against Crusaders. Impressed by the hospitality of the locals, he named the village Taybeh, or “good” in Arabic. Another version of the story is that he was charmed by their goodness and the beauty of their faces, ordering the village to be renamed Tayyibat al-Isem (Beautiful of name) instead of what sounded like Afra (full of dust).
New Testament significance
According to the Bible, Jesus, after Lazarus' resurrection, retired with his disciples to this town. John says, "Since that day on, they (the Pharisees) made the decision to kill him. Jesus did not walk in public among the Jews anymore. He went away to a region near the desert, to a city called Aphram, and it was there that he and his disciples dwelt" (John 11: 53-54). This happened during the first days of Nissan probably around the year 30.
It was at this point that Jesus retired on a rocky hill which was situated 8 km from Taybeh towards the Jordan, in order to fortify his spirit, pray, fast, and expose himself to temptation. That is why this rocky hill is known as (Qarantal), from the Latin root "Quarenta" (forty), which alludes to the forty days Jesus fasted. According to the Evangelist, Taybeh-Aphram is the isolated place where Jesus found the diaphanous quietness to prepare himself and his disciples for the great sacrifice.
In the 5th century, a church, known today as St. George's Church, was built in the east of the town. In the 12th century, another church was built by the Crusaders, in attachment to the first one. In 1185, Balduinus IV, King of Jerusalem, gave Boniface de Montferrat the castle of St. Elias, placed in the higher part of the city.
In 1596, a village named Tayyibat al-Isem appeared in Ottoman tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Quds of the Liwa of Quds. It had a population of 63 Muslim households and 23 Christian families. The village paid taxes on wheat, barley, vines or fruit trees, and goats or beehives.
Around 1810-1820 a large battle were fought in the village between rival factions of the "Kais" and the "Yamani". Eventually the "Yamani"-faction, led by the sheik of Abu Ghosh, managed to regain Taybeh from the Kais -faction.
French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village in 1863, and described Thayebeh as having an estimated 800 villagers, 60 Catholics, and the rest Greek Orthodox. He further noted the remains a large building on the top of a hill.
In 1882, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Taiyibeh as a "large Christian village in a conspicuous position, with well-built stone houses. A central tower stands on the top of the hill; on either side are olive and fig gardens in the low ground. The view is extensive on either side. A ruined church of St George exists near, and there are remains of a ruined castle in the village. The inhabitants are Greek Christians."
Charles de Foucauld (1853–1916), an explorer and French hermit, passed through Taybeh in January 1889 and returned in 1898. Inspired by his visit, he wrote "Eight Days in Aphram, retreat of 1898, from Monday after IV Lent Sunday, (March 14) through Monday, after IV Lent Sunday (March 21)."
In 1927 a Greek Orthodox church was built on a Byzantine church, carefully incorporating architectural elements, like columns, lintels, capitals, two fonts, and a fragmentary mosaic pavement with a Greek inscription.
In a census conducted in 1922 by the British Mandate authorities, Al Taibeh had a population of 954 Christians and 7 Muslims, while at the time of the 1931 census, Taybeh had a population of 1038 Christians and 87 Muslims living in 262 houses.
In 1945 the population was 1,330, all Arabs, while the total land area was 20,231 dunams, according to an official land and population survey. Of this, 5,287 were allocated for plantations and irrigable land, 5,748 for cereals, while 80 dunams were classified as built-up areas.
In September 2005, hundreds of Muslim men from Deir Jarir torched homes and vehicles in Taybeh in response to the honor killing of a 30-year old Muslim woman from Deir Jarir who was said to have been romantically involved with a Christian from Taybeh. Palestinian Authority policemen who arrived on the scene saved the village beer factory from being burned down. According to the BBC, residents from the two villages enjoy close relations and the violence was a "battle ... between Palestinian officialdom and tribal justice."
On 19 April 2013 Israeli settlers attempted to take over Taybeh's monastery and its adjacent chapel. Youth from Taybeh and surrounding villages including Deir Jreir, Ramun, Silwad, Kafr Malik and Ein Yabrud drove out the settlers. Palestinians from the nearing zone demonstrate regularly in the monastery's land, and Muslim Palestinians hold Friday's prayers in the terrain in order to protect it from possible Israeli attempts to expropriate it.
Taybeh is a Christian village, with Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Melkite Eastern Catholic. In 2008 Taybeh had a low birthrate and residents feared that the population would entirely disappear. According to the mayor, the population in 2010 was 2,300, with 12,000 former residents and their descendants living in the U.S., Chile and Guatemala.
The former mayor of Taybeh is David Khoury, co-owner of the local brewery established by his brother.
Taybeh is the home of Taybeh Brewery, brewers of the only Palestinian beer. Since 2005, an Oktoberfest celebration is held in Taybeh, aiming at promoting local Palestinian products and attracting tourism. The celebration offers beer competitions, cultural, traditional and musical performances and other attractions. From 500 liters of beer in 1995, the company produced 600,000 liters in 2011, mainly sold in the West Bank and Israel. Before the Second Intifada, the beer was sold to upscale bars in Israel. According to David Khoury, the brewery sells 6 million liters a year, and exports its products to Japan.
Educational and religious institutions
The Orthodox Patriarchal School serves over 270 students, and the Roman Catholic (Latin) School serves over 400.
The different Christian denominations worship together on Easter and Christmas. The Latin parish runs a school, a medical center, a hostel for pilgrims and youth programs.
Construction of a new kindergarten and additional classrooms for Al-Taybeh Greek Orthodox School was completed in 2012 with USAID funding of $750,000. The school, built 130 years ago, is the largest in Taybeh. It is attended by 430 students from Taybeh and villages in the vicinity.
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