The Al-Khader church is a Palestinian town in the Bethlehem Governorate in the south-central West Bank. It is located 5 kilometers west of Bethlehem. The area around al-Khader is marked by vineyards, and olive and fig trees. The site of al-Khader was first inhabited by the Canaanites. In 1953, five arrowheads of javelins dating from the 11th century BCE, were discovered in al-Khader with Canaanite inscriptions. Map.
The translations were “dart of ‘Abd Labi’t”. Al-Khader is named after Saint George who in Arab culture is known as “al-Khadr.”
According to local tradition, Saint George was imprisoned in the town of al-Khader where the current Monastery of St. George stands. The chains holding him were relics that were said to hold healing power.
This tradition of St. George’s imprisonment was dated to at most the 15th-century. In 1442 the Monastery of St. George was mentioned by Western traveler John Poloner as situated on a hill near Bethlehem.
During late Ottoman rule (1516-1917), al-Khader was part of the political-administrative sheikdom and nahiyah (“subdistrict”) of Bani Hasan, which was ruled by the Absiyeh family of al-Walaja. In 1838 its inhabitants were classified as Muslims by the English scholars Edward Robinson and Eli Smith.
Victor Guérin visited in 1863. In the late 19th century al-Khader was described by the Palestine Exploration Fund’s Survey of Western Palestine as a moderate-sized village with a “Greek church and convent.” It was surrounded by vineyards and olive groves and “rock-cut tombs” were situated to the north of the village.