From Biblical Times To 1967
Hebron has a long and rich Jewish history. Numbers 13:22 states that Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian town of Zoan, i.e. around 1720 BCE, and the ancient city of Hebron was situated at Tel Rumeida. The citys history has been inseparably linked with the Cave of Machpelah, which the Patriarch Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hittite for 400 silver shekels as a family tomb. This was the first parcel of land owned by the Jewish people in their Promised Land. As recorded in Genesis, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah and Leah, are buried there, and according to a Jewish tradition Adam and Eve are also buried there.
Hebron is mentioned 87 times in the Bible and is the worlds oldest Jewish community. Joshua assigned Hebron to Caleb from the tribe of Judah , who subsequently led his tribe in conquering the city and its environs . As Joshua 14:15 notes, the former name of Hebron was Kiryat Arba…
The city was part of the united kingdom and later the southern Kingdom of Judah, until the latter fell to the Babylonians in 586 BCE. Despite the loss of Jewish independence, Jews continued to live in Hebron , and the city was later incorporated into the Hasmonean kingdom by John Hyrcanus. King Herod built the base of the present structure the 12 meter high wall over the Tomb the Patriarchs.
Reestablishing The Jewish Community
On April 4, 1968, a group of Jews registered at the Park Hotel in the city. The next day they announced that they had come to re- establish Hebrons Jewish community. The actions sparked a nationwide debate and drew support from across the political spectrum. After an initial period of deliberation, Prime Minister Levi EshkolsLabor-led government decided to temporarily move the group into a near-by IDF compound, while a new community to be called Kiryat Arba was built adjacent to Hebron. The first 105 housing units were ready in the autumn of 1972.
In the decade following the Six Day War, when the euphoria of the victory had subsided, Judea and Samaria were still largely unsettled by Jews. Rabbi Moshe Levinger and a group of like-minded individuals determined that the time had come to return home to the newly liberated heartland of Eretz Yisrael. Word of the decision spread quickly and soon a nucleus of families was formed. Their objective was to spend Pesach in Hebrons Park Hotel.
Hebrons Arab hotel owners had fallen on hard times. For years they had served the Jordanian aristocracy who would visit regularly to enjoy Hebrons cool dry air. The Six Day War forced the vacationers to change their travel plans. As a result, the Park Hotels Arab owners were delighted to accept the cash-filled envelope which Rabbi Levinger placed on the front desk. In exchange, they agreed to rent the hotel to an unlimited amount of people for an unspecified period.
Age Of The Patriarchs
At one point or another a forest grew at Arba and was called the Forest of Mamre. After Abraham and Lot separated he pitched his tent near the Forest. There he built an altar to God. Abraham lived here all the way until the death of his wife Sarah. After his wife Sarah died, Abraham used Hittite mediators to negotiate to buy the property of a man named Ephron. Ephron owned a cave that was desirable for Abraham to bury his wife’s corpse. After being offered the land for free, Abraham refused to take it off Ephron for free. So Abraham payed the full price of four hundred shekels of silver and he designated the whole area around the cave a burial site
It seems there was a Hittite colony or population at the time of his dwelling.
Isaac’s and Jacob’s Homestead
Isaac had lived in the Forest of Mamre along with his father. While he and his father moved away, after Abraham’s death Isaac returned to the area. After Isaac died Jacob stayed in the area for sometime. It is likely that his twelve sons grew up in the area. When his sons became adults they spread out in the nearby area.
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The Cave Of The Patriarchs Monument
For the past two millennia, the Cave of Machpelah has been identified with what is now called the Cave of the Patriarchs . The cave itself has never been excavated, but various pieces of evidence such as pottery dated from the Iron Age and probably earlier, indicate that it contains ancient burials.
Above this cave sits a Roman Period temenos , a large monument built of ashlar stone. From the style of construction, it is clear that it was built by King Herod the Great , the king of Judah. This is the only Herodian structure to survive intact into modern times.
Another cultic structure from this same period was constructed at Elonei Mamre about three kms away from the Cave of the Patriarchs structure. The careful margin hueing and size of the immense stones is very similar to Herodian structures at the temple mount at Jerusalem, and thus Herod is believed to have been behind the building of this structure as well.
Considering his investment in these Jewish holy sites, it seems likely that Herod thought of Hebron as a Jewish city, although some have argued that the site was meant for his Idumean brethren. In any event, Herods treating the city as Jewish does not prove that the Idumean inhabitants thought of themselves as Jews. Herod was part of the Judean royal family and was king of the Jews so he would naturally identify with his Jewish identity. What about the average Idumean in Hebron?
Biblical Period Hebron According To The Bible
Hebron was the foremost city in the Judean hill country south of Jerusalem. The name Hebron likely derives from the Hebrew root ×.×.×¨, meaning friend. The name is known from ancient stamp seals as well as from the Bible. Biblical texts also identify Hebron with Kiryat-Arba and Mamre , which has led some scholars to suggest that the town was constructed of various quarters with different names, and thus spread overa relatively large area.
Hebron in the Abraham Story Hebron plays a prominent role in the Abraham stories. In addition to his building an altar to YHWH there, by Elonei Mamre , Genesis describes how Abraham bought a field, with a burial cave called Machpelah, from one of its Hethite inhabitants. The purchase takes place before all who entered the city gates , implying this was a walled city. As such, a field used for burials would have been located outside the city walls. According to Genesis, this cave became the burial place of all three patriarchs and three matriarchs .
Hebron Becomes Israelite/Judahite The Bible contains multiple somewhat discordant references to the conquest of Hebron. Two of these passages describe how Joshua conquered it either in the southern campaign , or in a campaign to clear the land of giants . Another three passages describe how the city was given to Caleb and his descendants and how he conquered it .
All of these references reflect the importance of Hebron at their authors time.
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Israeli Soldiers Describe Their Actions In Hebron
SidlosoPublished on Nov 18, 2021Israeli soldiers describe their actions in the Palestinian city of Hebron in the West Bank, and of Israeli settlers living there from the film by Israeli director Rona Segal, “Everyones a Suspect. Six Former Israeli Soldiers Speak on Their Time in Hebron.” See the full film at https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/16/opinion/israel-palestine-idf-mission-hebron.htmlSegal says: “I joined the army when I was 18 years old. Military service is mandatory in Israel and were instructed to never doubt its necessity. But I wanted to make films, so I maneuvered my way into the Israel Defense Forces film unit.”The army is where I learned the craft of filmmaking, and making the short documentary above allowed me to go back to those years. But now, as an independent filmmaker, I have a different perspective, a perspective that most 18-year-olds simply dont have.”Here, ex-soldiers share their accounts of day-to-day operations on the ground in Hebron, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank. They offer a view that has rarely been seen by the public.”———————————————————————————————————————————————– U.S. politicians from both parties vote to give Israel over $10 million per day of Americans’ tax money. For more information on this issue see https://ifamericansknew.org/
What Is The Holiest City In Christianity
The city of Jerusalem is sacred to many religious traditions, including the Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which consider it a holy city. Some of the most sacred places for each of these religions are found in Jerusalem and the one shared between all three is the Temple Mount.
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Tel Hebron Excavations Reveal A Jewish City
Our excavations at Tel Hebron during 2014 and 2017 revealed a domestic and industrial quarter dated to the Second Temple Period . Among other things, two domestic houses were excavated on both sides of a street, as well as a pottery workshop, and some agricultural installations. The general impression is that the settlement reflected a Jewish rather than a pagan or Idumean community for the following reasons:
- Pure vessels Chalk stone vessels were found there. These are a common identification element for Jewish sites, since they cannot become impure according to the Jewish laws of vessel purity. Only Jews used these types of vessels that were much more difficult to make, and more expensive than clay vessels.
- Large ritual baths A number of Jewish ritual baths were found.
These new archaeological finds answer the question about the inhabitants religious identity clearly. Whether this means that Judeans inhabited the city, that the Idumean inhabitants embraced their Jewish identities, or both, Hebron was a Jewish town during the Hasmoneans and Roman periods.
The city was destroyed in the Great Jewish Revolt then resettled until the Bar Kokhba Revolt . Although it was sparsely resettled on and off until the Mamluk period, it was not to be resettled by Jews.
First Settlement Kiryat Arba
In the spring of 1968, Rabbi Moshe Levinger, together with a group of Israelis posing as Swiss tourists, rented from its owner Faiz Qawasmeh the main hotel in Hebron and then refused to leave. The Labor government‘s survival depended on the religious Zionism-associated National Religious Party and was, under pressure of this party, reluctant to evacuate the settlers. Defence Minister Moshe Dayan ordered their evacuation but agreed to their relocation to the nearby military base on the eastern outskirts of Hebron which was to become the settlement Kiryat Arba. After heavy lobbying by Levinger, the settlement gained the tacit support of Levi Eshkol and Yigal Allon, while it was opposed by Abba Eban and Pinhas Sapir. After more than a year and a half, the government agreed to legitimize the settlement. The settlement was later expanded with the nearby outpost Givat Haavot, north of the Cave of the Patriarchs.Much of the Hebron-Kiryat Arba operation was planned and financed by the Movement for Greater Israel. According to a ruling given by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2011, Jews have no right to properties they possessed in places like Hebron and Tel Rumeida before 1948, and have no right to compensation for their losses.
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An Ancient City Older Than Tanis
When Moses sends spies to scout out the land, one of the places they arrive at is the city of Hebron:
Num 13:22 Now Hebron was founded seven years before Zoan of Egypt.
According to the verse, Hebron is more ancient that the Egyptian city of Zoan, the Hebrew name for Tanis . Tanis was built during the Ramesside 19th dynasty , and eventually became the capital of Egypt during the 21st dynasty , as the Nile changed course away from Pi-Ramesses.
By making Hebron a little older than Tanis, probably the old capital of Egypt at the time the verse was written, the biblical author wished to communicate Hebrons antiquity yet Memphis, Thebes and Heliopolis would have been better choices. In fact, according to the archaeological remains, Hebron is much older than Tanis.
Etymology Of The Name Hebron
The name Hebron comes from the verb , meaning to join:
The verb means to bind, join or team up. Nouns and mean company or association. Adjective or noun means united or associate. Noun , meaning business associate.
Noun literally means that what is joined . Noun means a thing joined or place of joining. Noun describes a binder or clamp.
Nouns , and mean stripe or mark. How these words express binding isn’t immediately clear, but perhaps the most ancient symbols arose from people claiming items and locations for themselves or their tribes.
The on-part of the name Hebron comes from the standard waw-nun extension that personifies or localizes the idea or action of a root.
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Tel Hebron: An Overview
Ancient Hebron is not in the modern city of Hebron, which lies in the valley near the Cave of the Patriarchs in an area built during the Mumluk period . Instead, it is located on Tel Hebron , which lies on a secondary eastern spur of Jebel Rumeida , overlooking the modern city of Hebron from the south.
Topographically, the mound is not easily defensible, but it is situated near a cultivation area and, importantly, near a spring which until the Ottoman period was called En Hebra , though today it is called En Judeida, . This setting on a lower spur, near a spring, recalls the site at the City of David built adjacent to the Gihon Spring at Jerusalem.
After it was abandoned, probably during the Islamic period, the mound gradually became covered by agricultural terraces. The tell is covered today mostly by olive groves, some hundreds of years old. What do we know about the history of this ancient town?
A Brief Overview Of Hebron
Hebron, located 32 km. south of Jerusalem in the Judean hills, is the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world. The Book of Genesis relates that Abraham purchased the field where the Tomb of Machpela is located as a burial place for his wife Sarah. According to Jewish tradition, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are buried there.
Hebron was one of the first places where the Patriarch Abraham resided after his arrival in the land of Israel. King David was anointed in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years. One thousand years later, during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, the city was the scene of extensive fighting.
Jews lived in Hebron almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman periods. It was only in 1929 as a result of the riots in which 67 Jews were murdered and the remainder were forced to flee that the city became temporarily devoid of Jews. After the 1967 Six Day War, the Jewish community of Hebron was re-established. It has grown to include a range of religious and educational institutions.
Hebron contains many sites of Jewish religious and historical significance, in addition to the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. These include the Tombs of:
- Othniel Ben Kenaz, the first Judge of Israel
- Avner Ben Ner, general and confidante to King Saul and KingDavid
- Ruth and Jesse, great-grandmother and father of King David
The Tomb of Machpela
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Early And Middle Bronze Age
Already in the Early Bronze Age III , the city was fortified with a massive twenty-foot thick city wall, which was exposed by Emanuel Eisenberg underneath the even more massive Middle Bronze Age city.
Philipp Hammond was the first archaeologist to excavate Hebron, during the 1960s. In the southern part of the tell, Hammond exposed portions of the cyclopean city wall, which he dated to the Middle Bronze Age. Avi Ofer followed during the 1980s, and Emanuel Eisenberg in 1999 exposed another segment of the same city wall on the northern side of the tell and, using pottery and scarabs from the related floors, securely dated it to the Middle Bronze Age II .
The Middle Bronze Age wall exposed on the south side is nearly 200 feet of continuous wall. Several other MB sites in the central hills were fortified by similarly sized walls, as Jerusalem-the City of David, Shechem and Shiloh. The wall stood about 15 feet high in places, nearly 12 feet thick, but was probably originally at least double in height. This massive city wall, built of huge rocks , would have been visible from afar to passersby.
Some scholars have suggested that this cyclopean wall is the reason Hebron developed a reputation as a city originally built by giants , though other scholars have offered a more prosaic suggestion that that the original meaning of Ê¿anaq was not giant but a clan name, related to the Amorite clan yÊ¿nq mentioned in second millennium B.C.E. sources.
The Seal Of Shephatyahu
The Iron Age fortification area yielded a Hebrew seal with a picture of a grazing deer, underneath which it reads:
Of Shephatyahu Samekh
According to the style of the letters as well as parallels for the name and decoration the seal should date to the late 8th or early 7th century B.C.E. The motif of the grazing deer/gazelle crouching towards the ground is popular on private seals of officials in Judah during the late Iron Age II. It may symbolize dedication and devotion as well as the one beloved by God as we find, for instance, in Psalms:
Ps 42:2 Like a hind crying for water, my soul cries for You, O God.
The first name is a standard Yahwistic name meaning YHWH has obtained justice. The name here appears in its full form , as was standard in Judah during this period, as opposed to its short form . Both forms of this name appear in the Bible .
The second name is a hypocoristic theophoric name, in other words, a shortened form a theophoric name with the divine element removed. The name means has supported. One form of the name, Aá¸¥isamakhusing the element my brother appears in the Bible as the patronymic for the leader of the tribe of Dan .
The seal probably belonged to one of the officials of Hebron, maybe the one responsible for the fortification work. Hebron was an important administrative site during the late Iron Age, and this is reflected in the well-known LMLK , for the king, seals stamped onhundreds of jar handles from the time Hezekiah.
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