The Jordan Valley

11. The (place) of Saint Elisha - ('Ain al-Sultan)

The Jericho oasis is watered by three main water courses: 'Ayn Qelt, to the south, which flows into Wadi al-Qelt; 'Ayn Duq, to the north, which gives way to Wadi Nu'eimah; 'Ayn es-Sultan which outpours near Tell es-Sultan, the site of Old Jericho. The Madaba Mosaic Map points to the last one as the Fountain whose water the Prophet Elisha made sweet and wholesome (2 Kings 2:19-22). Some fifty years ago was still visible there the apse of an ancient building, probably a church (A. Augustinovich, Gerico e dintorni, Jerusalem 1951, 39-41).
It is noteworthy to underline that the position of the vignette north of Byzantine Jericho indicates well the distinction we have to make between Roman - Byzantine Jericho and Jericho of the Old Testament [see: 12. Jericho].

Michael Avi-Yonah (The Madaba Mosaic Map, Jerusalem 1954, 44)
The site of Biblical Jericho and of Elisha's Fountain (2 Kings 2:19-22) were known to Josephus (Jewish War IV,459f) and this knowledge passed very early from the Jews to the Christian itineraries (Itinerarium Burd. 24,2 1500 steps from Jericho; 2 miles according to)., p. 202 ed. Geyer) mentions the spring which irrigated all Jericho ("fons aquae ... irrigat omnem Hiericho"). The church on the spot is mentioned for the first time ca. 530 by Theodosius (loc.cit.).) lists among the other buildings of Justinian a monastery of the Fountain of Elisha at "Jerusalem" (to be corrected to: Jericho). On the other hand the House of Rahab "the innkeeper" (publicanae) which is mentioned on the site of Old Jericho by the itineraries from the Bourdeaux traveller onwards, does not appear on the map.

Herbert Donner (The Mosaic Map of Madaba, Kampen 1992, 45)
It is the memorial church of the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 2:19-22) above 'Ayn as-Sultan, the spring of prehellenistic Jericho, situated at the foot of tall as-Sultan. We see a red dome-shaped roof between two towers, and a wall with one gate. The spring was protected by the wall, and the red memorial building was erected above the spring. A water-course runs from below the right tower to Jericho - the Byzantine Jericho -, supplying the city's oasis.

Noël Duval ("Essai sur la signification des vignettes topographiques", in The Madaba Map Centenary, Jerusalem 1999, 143-144)
To tou Hagiou Elisaiou. Source et sanctuaire d'Elisée. On voit une silhouette encadrée de deux tours avec, au centre, un toit rouge (je ne crois pas qu'il s'agisse d'une coupole comme le veut Donner) au-dessus d'un segment de muraille percé d'une porte. L'ensemble représente l'enceinte et le sanctuaire, mais pourrait être aussi une décomposition d'une église conventionnelle. Dans ce cas, le monument devrait être classé dans la catégorie suivante. (See also the complete article)

G. López Monteagudo ("The Architectonic Models on the Madaba Mosaic Map", in The Madaba Map Centenary, Jerusalem 1999, 257)
The Madaba Mosaic Map shows, under the toponyms of Saint Elisha (the present Ain es-Sultan) and St. Jonah, a vaulted or apsidal structure between two towers with flat roof, as in the cities of Areopolis, Esbounta and Maiumas represented in the pavement of Ma'in. (See also the complete article)

Map of the Jericho region
showing the position of Elisha's Fountain near Tell es-Sultan

Map Section 2 Place Sources

logo logo

Created Tuesday, December 19, 2000 at 23:30:48
by Eugenio Alliata ofm in collaboration with Stefano de Luca ofm
Webmaster: John Abela ofm - Space by courtesy of Christus Rex
copyright - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem 2000