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The Tombs Of Hebron
by Wayne Blank
Machpelah has been variously under the control of Jews, Christians and Muslims over the centuries. A massive stone structure, measuring about 200 feet / 61 meters long, 120 feet / 36 meters wide, and 50 feet / 15 meters high, now sits atop the cave.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edition, "The Cave of Machpelah is surmounted by a large mosque, the Haram al-Khalil. After the Six Day War (1967), the tombs of the patriarchs were opened to all worshippers for the first time in exactly 700 years, the original prohibition against non-Muslims having been made by the Mamluk sultan Baybars in 1267. Both Muslim and Jewish services are now held in the cave; the upper mosque remains the exclusive property of the Muslims."
Machpelah In The Bible
"And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba, that is, Hebron, in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her ... Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. And he said to them, "If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as a possession for a burying place ... So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave which was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre, that is, Hebron, in the land of Canaan." (Genesis 23:2,7-9,17-19 RSV)
Fact Finder: Are Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob/Israel and Leah all buried in Machpelah?