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Panoramic Views > Mount Lebanon > Jbeil-Byblos > Lehfed

Lehfed

If one follows a straight line from Obaidat to Jej, going along the picturesque route overlooking the valley on the north side of the Jej river , one comes to a bend in the slopes and a wide hollow; here is the village of Lehfed.

This is situated on the heights of the Caza (district) of Jbeil at an altitude of 3,500 feet, to the south of both Mayfouk and Jej in a vale formed from several hills rich with springs of water. The abundance of these is explained by the fact that, wherever one digs, water wells up in quantities. The land is fertile and the local inhabitants are determined farmers. Hills, valleys, terraces, plateaus and small plains, no bit of land is wasted. The air is pure and nature appears in all its beauty. In previous centuries the people of Lehfed donated their land generously to the monastery of Mayfouq and to the many churches, together with trees and other property.

The name Lehfed may be of Aramaic origin and in this case would mean the land of fear, or of Syriac origin connecting with the Old Testament. Lehfed shelters remains dating from Phoenician, Byzantine and Syriac times and seven little monasteries, five churches and several hermitages. Lehfed has been inhabited by Maronites since their earliest days, as shown by the hill and church of Saint Simon and church of Saint Elias, once an occasional residence of the Maronite Patriarch. There is the church of Saint Saba sitting on its hill and that of Saint Hawshab attached to the summer residence of the Maronite bishop of Jbeil-Byblos, among others.

Lehfed has given two patriarchs to the Church, Yuhanna (1151-1173) and Butros (1172-1199), known of course as El-Lehfedi, for both took the name of the village of their birth. Lehfed also gave six bishops to the Church, among them the illustrious Jebrayel ben al-Kilayi the Franciscan, as well as several hermits and even saints, among them Brother Estephan Nehmeh recently beatified.

Lehfed is a site of sanctity, serene and calm, of vocation and prayer, with people who are firm and courageous believers, simple, generous, and with a firm faith in God and the Holy Virgin. It is also a summer resort with a great reputation and much appreciated. As well as being much visited for its attractive appearance, it now draws pilgrims who venerate the monk Estephan Nehmeh.

Lehfed had its hour of glory and played a major national and political role within the Ottoman world and the East. In 1821 its people revolted against the unjust Ottoman regime and against the great Emir Bashir II. They refused to pay the disproportionate taxes of the Emir and the Sublime Porte. Their resistance marked the first time that any voice was raised against the injustice of the central authority, for the Sultans used force to crush their whole empire under the weight of taxes and a criminal dictatorship. Several regions of Lebanon such as Batroun, Kesserawan and the North joined the assembly held at Lehfed. This was a real revolution such as had never been seen in the Sultanate. With the backing of the Sublime Porte, Emir Bashir sent his army, with the addition of volunteers making two thousand soldiers in all, to suppress the Maronite heroes. These took refuge in an inaccessible and strategically-placed cliff in order to defend themselves and resist. The place was a safe retreat, but cowardly and traitorous neighbors indicated a path which allowed the attackers sent by the Emir to penetrate the position. A battle ensued which made hundreds of dead, wounded and prisoners. Emir Bashir rewarded the deed with twenty-five piastres for every head that was brought to him, in an apocalyptic scene. The brave Maronites had to capitulate and the cliff in still famed under the name of Shir Lehfed.

To reach Lehfed one may take any of the roads leading up from Jbeil-Byblos: Jbeil-Amshit-Lehfed, Jbeil-St. Sharbel Annaya-Lehfed, and so on. The town has modern infrastructure, with a municipal authority, electricity, roads, water, telephone, school, crafts, and cultural and sports clubs. It has also become a resort for prayer and reflection. A spring, said to have special blessing, not far from the church to the south, bubbles up near its venerable oak tree and near the house birthplace of the brother in religion Blessed Estephan Nehmeh, now converted into a chapel.

Few Lebanese villages can claim the distinction of Lehfed, which played an important leading role in the history of Lebanon.

Joseph Matar
Translation from the French : Kenneth Mortimer


- The Church of Lehfed: >> View Movie << (2014-09-15)
- The Museum of Blessed Estephan Nehmeh:
>> View Movie << (2013-10-15)
 

 


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