Friday, September 30, 2011


The Cave of the Patriarchs in the heart of the old city of Hebron is considered the second holiest site for the Jewish people.  This is where Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebecca, as well as Jacob & Leah are buried.  The fortress built by Herod the Great around the caves 2,000 years ago is still standing today.

For several hundred years after Jesus, this place was under Roman and then Byzantine control.  Then the Persians conquered it. Then the Muslims converted it into a mosque, the Ibrahimi Mosque. 

Hebron, like Bethlehem nearby, is a Palestinian city in the West Bank.  Until 1929 Jews were forbidden from entering the site.  After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel regained control of the area for the first time in 2,000 years.

There have been numerous conflicts over control of the site since then, causing many deaths.  The latest agreement, in 1996, left Muslims with control over 80% of the site, and the Israelis, 20%.  Hence the strong presence of the military.  I had to leave my pocket knife with them when I entered the fortress.  But they returned it to me politely afterwards. 

The actual caves are inaccessible.  Instead, six cenotaphs (empty tombs) have been set up, dedicated to the patriarchs and matriarchs.  Many people visited, prayed and studied there in the Jewish section. 

Including a family with several kids and one very cute baby, with huge eyes and a round head. 

Jews, Christians (Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Protestants) and Muslims are all descendants of Abraham, genealogically or spiritually.  There are an estimated 3.8 billion of them, 54% of the world population.

Abraham is probably turning in his grave watching his descendants fighting and even killing each other. 


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