“Palestinian village in the central highlands appears from a distance as a cluster of boulders emerging out of a hilly landscape. It lies in harmony with its surroundings until it becomes an element of nature itself.” — Suad Amiry
Nisf Jubeil is no different, in fact it is more of an element of nature than the known Palestinian village. Nisf Jubeil, a small village located 17km northwest of the city of Nablus, is interlocked by mountains from its north, south and west – making it hidden to travelers in the area and a stronger element of nature. Nisf Jubeil is made up of the 6 basic components that form the village habitat of Palestine: the courtyard (al-hoash); the water spring (al-‘ein); the agricultural fields; the public plaza (sahet al-balad); the meeting hall; and the places of worship – in the case of Nisf Jubeil the mosque, and the three churches.
The name of the village is derived from its location and size. ‘Jubeil’ meaning small mountain in Arabic, and ‘Nisf’ meaning half – describing the location and expansion of the village – a village on half of the small mountain. In 1988 the village was only 28 donums in size, while its total land area is 5054 donums. Some residents believed it became Nisf Jubeil after the great flood and torrent in the early 20th century that destroyed half the village, referring to the ‘Nisf’.
Traveling through the Levant, you run across several dwellings that hold the name Jubeil, but you rarely hear of the village: Nisf Jubeil. People often know of Bint Jubeil, Jubeil but almost never Nisf Jubeil – not even among locals. Given the common use of the name ‘Jubeil’ it is believed to have existed in ancient languages. Myth states that the name Jbeil is used based on the importance of the sun in older civilizations, and the intensity of the sun in this region. However, there is no evidence of Jubeil meaning sun in any modern or ancient language. Furthermore, in Nisf Jubeil, the sun shines for a short period of the day. It rises late in the morning, and sets early in the afternoon.
“Digging deep, one uncovers the village as part of an ecosystem; it is a holistic and complete system of networks, activities, functions, and building components that work together in a more or less synergetic and congruent way. Over time, it has become an everlasting model of self-sufficiency. It has a quality of wholeness: every part contributes to the bigger whole. Underlying this village character is the Palestinian farmer and the peasants as a collective, which has greatly influenced the development of Palestinian society.”