Covert Visit inside the Tomb of the Patriarchs

From the Jerusalem Post:

On October 9, 1968 a thirteen-year-old girl made history, as she squeezed through a narrow hole into the underground chambers of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, which the Jews had been forbidden to enter for 700 years under Mamluk, Ottoman, British and Jordanian rule. Jews were only allowed access to the staircase at the southeast of the site, initially only up to the fifth step and later increased to the seventh.
“On October 9, 1968, my mother asked me if I would agree to climb into a narrow hole that would lead me to a cave,” Arbel wrote in her personal account of the event published on the Hebron website. “After I agreed, my mother told me that it was the Cave of the Patriarchs.”
Arbel recalls how her father later woke her and bundled her into the car “wrapped like a parcel with a blanket over her head” and they made their way to Hebron from their Jerusalem home. When they arrived they stopped at the police for a while and then continued to the cave. “I got out of the car, wrapped in the blanket, and entered the Muslim mosque. I saw the opening that I would need to fit into.” The hole measured 28 centimeters in diameter. Arbel was harnessed with ropes and equipped with a flashlight and matches in order to check the air inside the cave. “They lowered me down onto a pile of paper and money. I found myself in a square room.” She describes seeing three tombstones opposite her, “the middle one adorned and taller than the other two.” Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are all believed to be buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs.

The story continues here. For more photos and information about Hebron and the Machpelah constructed by King Herod, see here.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Hebron Machpelah, shaft to caves below, tb092204022
Hebron Machpelah. The shaft to the subterranean cave is protected by the green railings. (photo source)

3 thoughts on “Covert Visit inside the Tomb of the Patriarchs

  1. There is also an interesting article on the topic in BAR — with some photos.

    Miller, Nancy. “Patriarchal Burial Site Explored for First Time in 700 Years.” Biblical Archaeology Review 11 (1985): 26-43.

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