Glimpses of Israel - Hebron City of The Patriarchs and Matriarchs

Located 32 km (19 miles) south of Jerusalem in the rolling Judean hills, is the city of Hebron.

Hebron is derived from the Hebrew word "haver", meaning friend and is a reflection of the relationship between Abraham and the Creator of heaven and earth. "But you, Israel, are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham my friend?" (Isaiah 41:8)

When Abraham first sojourned in the Land, he pitched his tent and settled "by the terebinth trees of Mamre in Hebron" (Genesis 13:18). Following the death of Sarah, Abraham purchased the Cave of Machpelah, from the Hittites in which to bury his beloved wife (see Genesis chapter 23). The Cave, and thus the city of Hebron became the place where the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah are buried.

When David inquired of the Lord to which city he should go up to be crowned king, the Lord told him, "To Hebron." (2 Samuel 2:1) For the first seven years of his forty year reign King David ruled in Hebron. Not far from the Cave of Machpelah, in Admot Yishai (also known as Tel Hebron or Tel Rumeida) are the tombs of King David's father, Jesse (Yishai), as well as David's great grandmother, Ruth.

It is believed that Herod the Great constructed a massive wall/edifice surrounding the Cave, which still stands today, over 2,000 years later. Various shrines and buildings have been constructed inside and outside the walls, through the centuries, depending on who ruled the land.

Hebron is regarded as one of the holiest sites of the Jewish people, and has maintained a continuous Jewish presence since the time of Joshua, with the exception of the tragic period following the 1929 Arab riots, when the land was under the British mandate.

Though part of the State of Israel, Hebron was captured by Jordan in 1948, as the newly reborn State came under attack from the surrounding Arab countries. In 1967, Hebron was restored to Jewish control, and many of the holy sites were refurbished and restored. Sadly, in response to international pressure, the Israeli government placed heavy restrictions on Jewish people visiting the holy sites, which are still invoked today.

Despite the setbacks, Hebron is a restoration work-in-progress, as the people of Israel return to possess the Land promised to their Fathers.