Village of the Forests
The contemporary Israeli community of Kiryat Yearim is believed to be situated on the same location as Kiriath-Jearim, which is mentioned 18 times in the Hebrew Bible. Pilgrims traveling on a tour of the Holy Land may find several significant reasons to stop here, located on the main road from Tel Aviv leading to Jerusalem.
Kiryat Yearim, which means Village of the Forests in Hebrew, is the place where the Ark of the Covenant was safeguarded between the time the Philistines returned it and before it was restored to its place on the Temple Mount, as mentioned in First Samuel.
More recently, archaeologists have excavated one of King Solomon’s fortresses at this location. Originally designed to guard those traveling from the Mediterranean coast to the Holy City, the fort was later replaced, during Crusader times, by Casel, a Crusader castle that also guarded travelers.
Another highlight of the area is the Church of Notre Dame de l’Arche d’Alliance (Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant) and the Convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. This Catholic church was built in 1924 and is most notable for its massive statue of the Virgin Mary that was intended to be visible from every direction. The church, like so many all over Israel, was built on the site of a much older Byzantine church that had been destroyed in the 7th century.
This area is also one of the possible locations associated with the biblical locale of Emmaus, where Jesus appeared to two of his disciples after his resurrection, as told in the Book of Luke.