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,
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
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
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.
Translation from the French : Kenneth Mortimer
- The Church of Lehfed: >> View
Movie << (2014-09-15)
- The Museum of Blessed Estephan Nehmeh:
>> View Movie