Where did Philip baptize the Ethiopian eunuch?

Note of Correction

In the comments below by Outremer (Tom Powers) you will see that I made a mistake in equating Ein Yael and Ein El-Haniyeh. I could see a difference in my photos and the site pictured in the video or the drawings in Thomson, The Land and the Book, but I thought the passing of time might have made the difference. I also misunderstood the statement by Vamosh that the spring was “just past the entrance to the Ein Yael Living Museum.” I understood it to mean that the spring was in that park.

Well, this is embarrassing. Under some circumstances I could delete the post, but about 2500 individuals receive an Email every time I post.

Tom’s comments also involve political matters that I understand, but for the purpose of this blog prefer not to go into. I write primarily for a group of Christians who study the Bible, but who have little knowledge of the Bible lands and customs. This blog tries to bridge that gap. Of course, I am always delighted when others find the material useful.

One of the “Must see” places for my next visit to Israel is to see Ein El-Haniyeh!

— The Original Article —

One of the “Must see” places I had on my list during the last visit to Israel was a site called Philip’s Fountain or Philip’s Spring. Miriam Feinberg Vamosh describes the location.

The spring is located about one mile southwest of the entrance to the Rephaim Valley portion of Jerusalem Park, just past the entrance to the Ein Yael Living Museum. The Rephaim Valley is mentioned frequently in the Bible, as one of the borders of the tribe of Judah (Josh. 15:5) and the scene of a battle between David and the Philistines (2 Sam. 5:17–22). (www.haaretz.com, tourist tip #302; the page is no longer available online)

The entrance to Ein Yael, there the spring and pool is located. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The entrance to Ein Yael, where the spring and pool are located. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Just before we entered the park, as well as from the park, we had some nice views of the Rephaim Valley. The northeastern end of the valley (on our left) ends at approximately the northern end of the Valley of Hinnom.

A view of the Rephaim Valley from near the entry of Ein Yael park. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A view of the Rephaim Valley from near the entry of Ein Yael park. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Vamosh continues,

The New Testament site of Philip’s Spring, known in Arabic as Ein El-Haniyeh is here as well, in this southern portion of the park. It is located at the foot of the Palestinian village of Walajeh, whose people have been tilling the ancient terraces in this area for generations.

She says Christian pilgrims have been coming to Ein el-Haniyeh to recall the story recorded in Luke’s history of the early church. In Acts 8:26-39 we learn that Philip, one of the seven [deacons] who had been chosen to care for the needy disciples in Jerusalem later went to Samaria to preach (Acts 8:5). After what many preachers call a successful “work” in Samaria he was returning to Jerusalem.

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. (Act 8:26 ESV)

Whether the road itself ran through a deserted area, or the destination was at that time deserted is a matter of discussion among scholars.

The spring begins from the hillside above the Rephaim Valley. Today the water is diverted to for use in the park, but you can see a channel through which some of it flows to a nearby pool. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The spring begins from the hillside above the Rephaim Valley. Today the water is diverted for use in the park, but you can see a channel through which some of it flows to a nearby pool. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It is true that the Rephaim Valley was used as one of the main entries to Jerusalem from the coastal area, but was this where the court official of the Ethiopian queen said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” (Act 8:36 ESV).

Our next photo show an old pool where water from the spring is collected. Some goldfish can be seen in the far end of the pool. In spite of a nearby “Swimming is Prohibited” sign in three languages, the rope hanging over the pool indicates that boys still use it was for swimming on occasion.

Some identify the pool here as Philip's Fountain, the site where Philip immersed the Ethiopian. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Some identify the pool here as Philip’s Fountain, the site where Philip immersed the Ethiopian. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A nice YouTube video here shows the site prior to the development of the park, with a cameo appearance by Shimon Gibson. In it you may see the pool in its original state.

William M. Thomson, in his The Land and the Book, mentions this site and says that it was identified “by monkish legend St. Philip’s Fountain, where he baptized the Ethiopian eunuch.” Thomson includes a drawing of ruins resembling a church at the site (The Land and the Book, 1882, pp. 55-56). This is the volume covering Southern Palestine and Jerusalem.

In a following post we will take a look at another site called Philip’s Fountain.

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7 responses to “Where did Philip baptize the Ethiopian eunuch?

  1. Ferrell: I can’t help thinking that some confusion has crept into your post. If the pictures of the spring and pool which you posted were taken inside the Ein Yael site, then that’s not Ein Haniyeh. From Ein Yael’s entrance road, Ein Haniyeh lies about 1.5 mi./2.5 km further down the Rephaim Valley, on the left (see Google Earth).

    The video with Shimon Gibson which you linked to does indeed show Ein Haniyeh, complete with the distinctive remains of its Roman-period fountain. (Years ago archaeologists also found traces of a Byzantine church on a nearby terrace, I believe.) Last I knew, which has been a few years ago now, Ein Haniyeh was not a controlled or developed site but was in fact a very popular local swimming spot– for both local Arabs and Jewish settlers, interestingly enough.

    Just a few words on the highly propagandistic JNF video (which apparently was just posted a year ago, by the way): First, the so-called “Jerusalem Park” which it references is an Israeli scheme to lock up land — a self-declared annexation, in effect — in occupied territory (in that area, the rail line running through the Rephaim Valley represents the 1948-67 “Green Line”). The “Park”, which is both artificial and completely illegal under international law, is a designation meant to preclude any expansion of Palestinian use of their own land. Second, the “Aminidav Forest”, which Gibson points to across the valley, covers the remains of a depopulated Palestinian village from 1948, as many of the JNF forests do. It was Walajah, whose people reestablished their village across the valley, high above Ein Haniyeh on the western slopes of Har Gilo; now that village has become a virtual prison as a result of Israel’s meandering Separation Barrier, built largely on Palestinian land. All these things are documented on-line for anyone who cares to dig; Emek Shaveh and Ir Amim are two worthwhile web-sites. Finally, the video states: “In the early 1900s, the Land of Israel was desolate and empty. largely a desert. Centuries of abuse had robbed the land of its forests, vegetation and natural beauty…” So, this is a bit of tired and thoroughly discredited Zionist narrative still being used to justify the systematic dispossession of the Palestinian people. Reputable historians, Israeli or otherwise, must laugh — or, more appropriately, cry — when they hear it still being trotted out.

    TOM POWERS / Waynesville, NC

  2. Tom, thank you for your corrections. Please see the correction that I have posted at the beginning of the blog. I have said before that your comments are always thought-provoking and helpful.

  3. OK, I have dug a little and (sadly) here is more: A Haaretz article from Dec. 2016 says that the Israeli Defense Ministry’s plan to relocate a checkpoint in Jerusalem may soon make the popular Ein Haniyeh, which is being turned into a tourism attraction, accessible to Israelis, but inaccessible to the West Bank villagers who have used it for years. Read more at: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.760328. Photos posted on Google Maps/Earth in May 2017, taken both at the Ein Haniyeh site and from the biking trail across the valley, confirm the construction work underway there. Why am I not surprised by any of this? (Again, just to be clear: the photos you posted, presumably from inside the Ein Yael Living Museum, are not Ein Haniyeh.)

    TOM POWERS / Waynesville, NC

  4. I was aware of this, having read the Feb. 19, 2016 article by Nir Hasson here: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.704255.
    I trust I made it clear that my photos were not Ein Haniyeh.

  5. Final comments (I promise!): (1) I now see your correction to the post– some of our comments were crossing in cyberspace, and I was neglecting to refresh the page. Sorry for that. (2) Thanks for referencing the Feb. 2016 Haaretz article, which I hope many of your readers will find enlightening as to the everyday realities (which, in my opinion, everyone with a heart for justice should care about). (3) Another twist: The Dec. 2016 Haaretz article — which I’ve now finished reading! — states that the current Israeli work at Ein Haniyeh was undertaken with absolutely no permission from, or even notice to, the owners of the property there, the Armenian Orthodox Church. How typical. (4) There really is good reason for confusion in trying to pinpoint the “Philip’s Spring” of Acts 8! Ein Yael is actually embraced by some experts, as is Ein Haniye (where, as I say, traces of a Byzantine church were found years ago), and the Church Fathers were in fact unanimous in favor of yet another, much more distant site. An old BAR article I just dug out (Nov/Dec 1990, p.44ff) makes the case for Ein Yael but also traces the strands of evidence for other contenders. As with the elusive Emmaus, the story seems to have been localized at different places down through Christian history. Anyway, I will look forward to your follow-up post on the topic!

  6. (1) Apparently the Byzantine church at Ein Haniyeh (which did not necessarily have a Philip connection) has been re-exposed in the recent excavations– interesting. See: http://shalomholytours.com/phillips-spring/. These visible remains were mentioned already in a 2013 Haaretz piece (the same year I left the country): http://www.haaretz.com/misc/haaretzcomsmartphoneapp/.premium-1.538967 (2) An interesting discussion about the location of Philip’s Spring through history, especially as it relates to the famous 6th century Medaba Map, is here: http://www.christusrex.org/www1/ofm/mad/discussion/077discuss.html
    “When the pilgrims’ route changed, so did the identification of Philip’s spring.” Just so.

    TOM POWERS

  7. Pingback: Did Philip baptize the Ethiopian at ’Ain ed-Dirweh? | Ferrell's Travel Blog

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