The museum is located on Highway 90, which leads from the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea region to Jerusalem. Nearby, there is an ancient path from King Solomon’s time which leads to Jerusalem, over which Jews from all over the Land of Israel used during holidays. The current road follows the route of a "younger" ancient path from the Roman and Byzantine period.
The area surrounding the museum to the city of Ma’ale Adumim is called Mishor Adumim, which means Red Plain. The city also contains the word Adumim (or red). During the time of the Crusaders, they built a fortress on the other side of the road, and also referred to the color red when it was named Castella Rossa. The soil in the region has a reddish tint which is the result of spontaneous combustion of bitumen (natural asphalt). According to St. Jerome, the red soil is the result of bloodshed in this place.
Since Byzantine times, the area has been identified with the parable of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Luke which took place on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem.
“And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’
So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and your neighbor as yourself.’ And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.’ But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’
Then Jesus answered and said: ‘A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise, a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’
So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?’ And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise’ (Luke 10:25-37).
The Levite and the priest in this story were members of the religious establishment of the day. They were expected to fulfill the duty of love and compassion for their neighbor but hardened and arrogant, they considered it beneath them to help someone in trouble.
Jesus used the parable as a story which illustrated a spiritual truth or lesson to teach His listeners. Although the event did not necessarily happen, it was apparently characteristic of the time period since it did not provoke a protest from the audience, and no one denounced Jesus’ story as farfetched.
In the eyes of the Jews, including the author of Luke, the Samaritans were considered heretics at that time, although thought to be sectarians in modern times. They were far from the correct observances of religious commandments and practices.
In the New Testament, John recorded a conversation between a Samaritan woman and Jesus about the true place of worship of the Most High,
“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews’" (John 4: 19-22).
From the period of the First Temple in Jerusalem through its destruction, the Samaritans moved the center of their worship to the God of Israel to Mount Gerizim, mentioned by the prophet Moses. Today, a Samaritan religious center is still present.
The Good Samaritan Museum is located on the site of an ancient inn or an Arab residence and exhibits consist mainly of mosaics and other artifacts found in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The inspiration for the creation of the museum came from the parable of the good Samaritan whose mercy and kindness to the poor man in trouble was not hindered because of religious and national barriers. In light of this, the exhibits include mosaics found in both Jewish and Samaritan synagogues and churches.
Following the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem, the Samaritans and Jews separated into two independent communities but remained kindred peoples with similar ideas which were drawn from a common source, the Bible. Christianity emerged at the end of the Second Temple period and became the dominant religion of the empire during the Byzantine period. This shift caused distance from its own Jewish roots and gradually became a separate religion. The distinction is captured in the mosaics themselves with a degree of similarity between the mosaics of Samaritan and Jewish origin while representative Christian mosaics differ greatly in style and subjects.
The fundamental difference is the absence of anthropomorphic (human) and floral motifs on the Jewish and Samaritan mosaics, although there are exceptions because both cultures were influenced both overtly and subtly as they developed independently of each other.
The art of mosaic ornamentation originated in Greece during the fourth century BC and reached the land of Israel in the Hellenistic period, then flourished during the Second Temple and Roman periods. The extent of the art was gradually embraced by architectural traditions and became the main decorative element of synagogues, churches, public buildings, private villas and bath complexes throughout the vast Roman Empire in the 4th to 7th centuries AD. Beautiful mosaic floors were not only created for wealthy homeowners, but also widely found in cities, villages as well as remote areas.
Mosaic art required a high level of skill, organized collective effort, mastery of certain techniques and extensive human resources. Builders and artists were involved as well as stone carvers who produced tesserae (composite mosaics). Preparation of the foundation required several stages including the preliminary drawing of the mosaic onto plaster prior to the final phase of laying the tesserae itself. Making the tesserae was a laborious and arduous process and covering the floors of a medium-sized church required about a million tesserae.
The various mosaics displayed in the museum were moved from different parts of the country to preserve them from destruction. They are restored in natural materials of sand and limestone as in antiquity and epoxy which is used in modern mosaics. In addition to ancient mosaics, there are three replicas from synagogues in Sushit, Gaza and Jericho.
The task of preserving these treasures was entrusted to a group of experts led by the head of the mosaics department of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Aleppo Abu Diab, and Gabi Banai, the director of the museum.
Welcome to the museum!