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Monday, July 23, 2018
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Daily Bible Study

Machpelah (Tomb of the Patriachs)

Tomb of Isaac. Image courtesy of www.HolyLandPhotos.org One of the most famous places in the Bible is the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron, also known as the Tomb of the Patriachs because it is the burial place of all three Biblical patriachs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel); and their wives Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah.

Abraham bought the Cave of Machpelah as the burial place for his wife Sarah who died in Hebron.

Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, "I am an alien and a stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead." The Hittites replied to Abraham, "Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead." (Genesis 23:3-6)

Abraham asked if he could have the Cave of Machpelah, which belonged to Ephron the Hittite. Ephron willingly agreed and sold the entire field to Abraham for four hundred shekels of silver. Moslem Pulpit (Minbar). Image courtesy of www.HolyLandPhotos.org

So Ephron's field in Machpelah near Mamre - both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field - was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. (Genesis 23:17-18)

Today, both Jews and Muslims regard the cave as holy, since both races claim descent from Abraham - Israelites from Isaac, Arabs from Ishmael. Both Muslim and Jewish services are now held in the cave; the upper mosque remains the exclusive property of the Muslims.

(As a point of fact, you might be interested to note that the only piece of land in Canaan that Abraham ever possed was this burial ground. His descendants did not begin to possess the promised land until the time of Joshua!)
Quick Facts:
Machpelah: (means "double") The cave which Abraham bought, together with the field in which it stood, from Ephron the Hittite, for a family burying-place.

Additional Reference:
Machpelah (a poem)