Bethphage (in Greek) or Bethsphage (in other Christian sources) or Bet Pagi (in Hebrew and Aramaic) means “house of un-ripe figs’. It is assumed by Eusebius of Caesarea (Onom 58:13) to be on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives and close to Bethany. Jewish tradition identifies Bet Pagi as on the Temple Mount. This may represent the rivalry between the two religions.
This is where Jesus sent the disciples to find a donkey and a colt and became the starting point of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. (See Matt. 21:1; Mark 11:1; Luke19:29.)
The Catholic Bethphage Church
A Franciscan church was erected beside the steep road descending from the Mount of Olives eastwards towards the village of El-Azariyeh (ancient Bethany) and the Jerusalem-Jericho highway. On display in the church, protected by a wrought iron grille, is a large square rock that the Crusaders regarded as the mounting-block Jesus used to mount the donkey.
Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land
Open hours: Apr-Sep 8am-noon, 2-5pm, Oct-Mar 8am-noon, 2-4.30pm
The Greek Orthodox Bethphage Church
Just up the hill from the Catholic church is a Greek Orthodox church whose courtyard offers a view and a place for reflection.