Cave of the Patriarchs
|Cave of the Patriarchs
Hebrew: מערת המכפלה, Arabic: الحرم الإبراهيمي
Southern view of the enclosure
The Cave of the Patriarchs or the Cave of Machpelah (Hebrew: מערת המכפלה, Me'arat ha-Machpela (help·info), trans. "cave of the double tombs"), is known by Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham or Ibrahimi Mosque (Arabic: الحرم الإبراهيمي, Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi (help·info)).
Situated beneath a large rectangular Herodian era structure, the series of subterranean chambers is located in the heart of Hebron(Al-Khalil)'s old city in the Hebron Hills. According to tradition that has been associated with both the Torah and the Quran, the cave and adjoining field were purchased by Abraham, and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah, considered the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish people, are all believed to be buried there. The only matriarch missing is Rachel, who is believed to be buried near Bethlehem where she died in childbirth. The Christian tradition that has been associated with the New Testament believes, that the twelve Patriarchs and Matriarchs were buried in Shechem (Acts 7:16).
The Hebrew name possibly refers to the physical layout of the original two chambers while according to the Book of Genesis, Jacob dug further in to make a third chamber for Leah and himself.
The Arabic name of the complex reflects the prominence given to Abraham, revered by Muslims as a Quranic prophet and patriarch through Ishmael. Outside biblical and Quranic sources there are a number of legends and traditions associated with the cave.
According to the Book of Genesis 23:1-20, Sarah, the wife of Abraham, "died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan". When she died, at the age of 127 years, and he "came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her." (Genesis 23:2) After awhile, he stood up and spoke to the "sons of Heth" and requested they give him a possession as a "burying place", and they offered him his "choice" of their sepulchres. And then in verse 7 he again "stood up" to speak to them. Abraham then requested that Ephron the Hittite, the son of Zohar, give him the cave of Machpelah, in the end of his field, "for as much money as it is worth". (verse 9) After Ephron confirmed that he would give the cave, in verse 11, Abraham further requested that he give him the field for money, in verse 13. Ephron agreed and named a price.
Genesis 23:16 And Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out to Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, accepted by the merchant.  And so the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, facing Mamre, was established (as Abraham's possession). [This included] the field and the cave that was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, which were within its entire border around.  [It was] to Abraham as a possession before the eyes of the sons of Heth, in the presence of all who had come within the gate of his city.
The burial of Sarah is the first account of a burial in the Bible, and this is the first commercial transaction mentioned. The next burial in the cave of Machpelah is that of Abraham, who lived "an hundred threescore and fifteen years" - one hundred years unto the birth of Isaac, and threescore (60) more years unto the birth of Esau and Jacob. (Genesis 25:26) The title deed to the cave was part of the property of Abraham that passed to his son Isaac in Genesis 25:5-6.
Genesis 25:9-10 And Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the Cave of Machpelah in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which faces Mamre,  The field that Abraham had bought from the sons of Heth there Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried.
Isaac was 180 years old when he died, and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him. (Genesis 35:28-29) As noted above, Isaac was 60 when they were born, so they were 120 years old here, which is 10 years before Jacob, at the age of 130, stood before Pharaoh in Genesis 47:9. Jacob died later at the age of 147 years. (Genesis 47:28) There is no mention of how or when Isaac's wife Rebekah died, nor of Jacob's wife Leah, but they are included in the list of those that had been buried in Machpelah in Jacob's final words to the children of Israel:
Genesis 49:29 And he commanded them and said to them, "I will be brought in to my people; bury me with my fathers, in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,  in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which field Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for burial property.  There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebecca, and there I buried Leah.  The purchase of the field and the cave therein was from the sons of Heth."  And Jacob concluded commanding his sons, and he drew his legs [up] into the bed, and expired and was brought in to his people.
In the final chapter of the Jewish book of Genesis of the Torah, Joseph had his physicians embalm his father, before they removed him from Egypt to be buried in the cave of the field of Machpelah (Genesis 50:1-14). But the New Testament has a different tradition, that Jacob was burried in Shechem.
Acts 7:15-16 And Jacob went down into Egypt; and he died, himself and our fathers;  and they were carried over unto Shechem, and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a price in silver of the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
Herod the Great built a large, rectangular enclosure over the caves, the only fully surviving Herodian structure from the period of Hellenistic Judaism. Herod's building, with 6-foot-thick stone walls made from stones that were at least 3 feet tall and sometimes reach a length of 24 feet, did not have a roof. Archæologists are not certain where the original entrance to the enclosure was located, or even if there was one.
Until the era of the Byzantine Empire, the interior of the enclosure remained exposed to the sky. Under Byzantine rule, a simple basilica was constructed at the southeastern end and the enclosure was roofed everywhere except at the centre. In 614, the Persians conquered the area and destroyed the castle, leaving only ruins; but in 637, the area came under the control of the Muslims and the building was reconstructed as a roofed mosque.
During the 10th century, an entrance was pierced through the north-eastern wall, some way above the external ground level, and steps from the north and from the east were built up to it (one set of steps for entering, the other for leaving). A building known as the kalah (castle) was also constructed near the middle of the southwestern side. Its purpose is unknown but one historic account claims that it marked the spot where Joseph was buried (see Joseph's tomb), the area having been excavated by a Muslim caliph, under the influence of a local tradition regarding Joseph's tomb. Some archaeologists believe that the original entrance to Herod's structure was in the location of the kalah and that the northeastern entrance was created so that the kalah could be built by the former entrance.
In 1100, after the area was captured by the Crusaders, the enclosure once again became a church and Muslims were no longer permitted to enter. During this period, the area was given a new gabled roof, clerestory windows and vaulting.
In the year 1113 during the reign of Baldwin II of Jerusalem, according to Ali of Herat (writing in 1173), a certain part over the cave of Abraham had given way, and "a number of Franks had made their entrance therein". And they discovered "(the bodies) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", "their shrouds having fallen to pieces, lying propped up against a wall...Then the King, after providing new shrouds, caused the place to be closed once more". Similar information is given in Ibn at Athir's Chronicle under the year 1119; "In this year was opened the tomb of Abraham, and those of his two sons Isaac and Jacob ...Many people saw the Patriarch. Their limbs had nowise been disturbed, and beside them were placed lamps of gold and of silver." The Damascene nobleman and historian Ibn al-Qalanisi in his chronicle also alludes at this time to the discovery of relics purported to be those of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, a discovery which excited eager curiosity among all three communities in the southern Levant, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian.
Towards the end of the period of Crusader rule, in 1166 Maimonides visited Hebron and wrote, "On Sunday, 9 Marheshvan (17 October), I left Jerusalem for Hebron to kiss the tombs of my ancestors in the Cave. On that day, I stood in the cave and prayed, praise be to God, (in gratitude) for everything."
In 1170, Benjamin of Tudela visited the city, which he called by its Frankish name, St.Abram de Bron. He reported:
- "Here that there is the great church called St. Abram, and this was a Jewish place of worship at the time of the Mohammedan rule, but the Gentiles have erected there six tombs, respectively called those of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah. The custodians tell the pilgrims that these are the tombs of the Patriarchs, for which information the pilgrims give them money. If a Jew comes, however, and gives a special reward, the custodian of the cave opens unto him a gate of iron, which was constructed by our forefathers, and then he is able to descend below by means of steps, holding a lighted candle in his hand. He then reaches a cave, in which nothing is to be found, and a cave beyond, which is likewise empty, but when he reaches the third cave behold there are six sepulchres, those of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, respectively facing those of Sarah, Rebekah and Leah, upon which the names of the three Patriarchs and their wives are inscribed in Hebrew characters. The cave is filled with barrels containing bones of people, which are taken there as to a sacred place. At the end of the field of the Machpelah stands Abraham's house with a spring in front of it".
In 1188, however, Saladin conquered the area, reconverting the enclosure to a mosque but allowing Christians to continue worshipping there. Saladin also added a minaret at each corner—two of which still survive—and the minbar. Samuel ben Samson visited the cave in 1210; he says that the visitor must descend by twenty-four steps in a passageway so narrow that the rock touches him on either hand.
Between 1318-20, the Mamluk Governor of Gaza (a province which included Hebron) Sanjar al-Jawli ordered the construction of the Amir Jawli Mosque within the Haram enclosure to enlarge the prayer space and accommodate worshipers. In the late 14th century, under the Mamluks, two additional entrances were pierced into the western end of the south western side and the kalah was extended upwards to the level of the rest of the enclosure. A cenotaph in memory of Joseph was created in the upper level of the kalah so that visitors to the enclosure would not need to leave and travel round the outside just to pay respects. The Mamluks also built the northwestern staircase and the six cenotaphs (for Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, Leah, Abraham, and Sarah, respectively), distributed evenly throughout the enclosure. The Mamluks forbade Jews from entering the site, only allowing them as close as the fifth step on a staircase at the southeast, but after some time this was increased to the seventh step.
During the Ottoman period, the dilapidated state of the patriarchs' tombs was restored to a semblance of sumptuous dignity. Ali Bey, one of the few foreigners to gain access, reported in 1807 that,
'all the sepulchres of the patriarchs are covered with rich carpets of green silk, magnificently embroidered with gold; those of the wives are red, embroidered in like manner. The sultans of Constantinople furnish these carpets, which are renewed from time to time. Ali Bey counted nine, one over the other, upon the sepulchre of Abraham.'
After the liberation of Hebron in 1967, the first Jew who entered the Cave of Machpelah for about 700 years, was the Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, Major-General Rabbi Shlomo Goren. "About 700 years ago, the Muslim Mamelukes conquered Hebron, declared the structure a mosque and forbade entry to Jews, who were not allowed past the seventh step on a staircase outside the building." Following the 1929 Hebron massacre, this restricted access was even more restricted by British Mandate authorities. After Israeli Statehood in 1948 and occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Jordan no Jews were allowed anywhere in the Judaean Mountains. Following the Israeli victory over the Jordanian invading army and other Arab allied forces in the Six Day War, the area came back under Jewish autority for the first time in 2,000 years and the 700-year-long restriction limiting Jews to the seventh step outside was lifted. Jews immediately began re-settling in the city after the Six Day War, fixing their expulsion following the 1929 Hebron massacre. The first subsequent Jewish wedding ceremony took place on 7 August 1968.
In 1968, a special arrangement was made to accommodate Jewish services on the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement. This led to a hand-grenade being thrown on the stairway leading to the tomb on October 9 in which 47 Israelis were injured, 8 seriously. On November 4, a large explosion went off near the gate to the compound and 6 people, Jews and Arabs, were wounded. On Yom Kippur eve, October 3, 1976, an Arab mob destroyed several Torah scrolls and prayer books at the tomb. In May 1980, an attack on Jewish worshippers returning from prayers at the tomb left 6 dead and 17 wounded.
Tensions would later increase as the Israeli government signed the Oslo Accords in September 1993, which gave limited autonomy to the PLO in the West Bank city of Jericho and the Gaza Strip. The city of Hebron and the rest of the major Palestinian population centers in the West Bank were not included in the initial agreement. A shooting spree committed by Baruch Goldstein an Israeli-American settler in February 1994, left 29 Palestinian Muslims dead and scores injured. The resulting riots resulted in a further 35 deaths.
The increased sensitivity of the site meant that in 1996 the Wye River Accords, part of the Arab-Israeli peace process, included a temporary status agreement for the site restricting access for both Jews and Muslims. As part of this agreement, the waqf controls 81% of the building. This includes the whole of the southeastern section, which lies above the only known entrance to the caves and possibly over the entirety of the caves themselves. In consequence, Jews are not permitted to visit the Cenotaphs of Isaac or Rebecca, which lie entirely within the southeastern section, except for 10 days a year which hold special significance in Judaism. One of these days is the Shabbat Chayei Sarah, when the Torah portion concerning the deaths of Abraham and Sarah and the purchase by Abraham of the land in which the caves are situated, is read.
The Israeli authorities do not allow Jewish religious authorities the right to maintain the site and only allow the waqf to do so. Tourists are permitted to enter the site. Security at the site has increased since the Intifada; the Israel Defense Forces surround the site with soldiers and control access to the shrines.
On February 21, 2010, Israel announced that it would include the site in a national heritage site protection and rehabilitation plan. The announcement sparked protests from the UN, Arab governments and the United States. A subsequent UNESCO vote in October aimed to affirm that the "al-Haram al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil/Hebron" was "an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories."
The rectangular stone enclosure lies on a northwest-southeast axis, and is divided into two sections by a wall running between the northwestern three fifths, and the southeastern two fifths. The northwestern section is roofed on three sides, the central area and north eastern side being open to the sky; the southeastern section is fully roofed, the roof being supported by four columns evenly distributed through the section.
In the northwestern section are four cenotaphs, each housed in a separate octagonal room, those dedicated to Jacob and Leah being on the northwest, and those to Abraham and Sarah on the southeast. A corridor runs between the cenotaphs on the northwest, and another between those on the southeast. A third corridor runs the length of the southwestern side, through which access to the cenotaphs, and to the southeastern section, can be gained. An entrance to the enclosure exists on the southwestern side, entering this third corridor; a mosque outside this entrance must be passed through to gain access.
At the center of the northeastern side, there is another entrance, which enters the roofed area on the southeastern side of the northwestern section, and through which access can also be gained to the southeastern (fully roofed) section. This entrance is approached on the outside by a corridor which leads from a long staircase running most of the length of the northwestern side. The southeastern section, which functions primarily as a mosque, contains two cenotaphs, symmetrically placed, near the center, dedicated to Isaac and Rebecca. Between them, in the southeastern wall, is a mihrab. The cenotaphs have a distinctive red and white horizontal striped pattern to their stonework, but are usually covered by decorative cloth.
Under the present arrangements, Jews are restricted to entering by the southwestern side, and limited to the southwestern corridor and the corridors which run between the cenotaphs, while Muslims may only enter by the northeastern side, and are restricted to the remainder of the enclosure.
The caves under the enclosure are not themselves generally accessible; the waqf have historically prevented access to the actual tombs out of respect for the dead. Only two entrances are known to exist, the most visible of which is located to the immediate southeast of Abraham's cenotaph on the inside of the southeastern section. This entrance is a narrow shaft covered by a decorative grate, which itself is covered by an elaborate dome. The other entrance is located to the southeast, near the mihrab, and is sealed by a large stone, and usually covered by prayer mats; this is very close to the location of the seventh step on the outside of the enclosure, beyond which the Mamelukes forbade Jews from approaching.
When the enclosure was controlled by crusaders, access was occasionally possible. One account, by Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela dating from 1163 CE, states that after passing through an iron door, and descending, the caves would be encountered. According to Benjamin of Tudela, there was a sequence of three caves, the first two of which were empty; in the third cave were six tombs, arranged to be opposite to one another.
These caves had only been rediscovered in 1119 CE by a monk named Arnoul, who had noticed a draught in the area near where the mihrab is at present, and had removed the flagstones and found a room lined with Herodian masonry. Arnoul, still searching for the source of the draught, hammered on the cave walls until he heard a hollow sound, pulled down the masonry in that area, and discovered a narrow passage. The narrow passage, which subsequently became known as the serdab (Arabic for passage), was similarly lined with masonry, but partly blocked up. Having unblocked the passage, Arnoul discovered a large round room with plastered walls. In the floor of the room, he found a square stone slightly different from the others and, upon removing it, found the first of the caves. The caves were filled with dust. After removing the dust, Arnoul found bones; believing the bones to be those of the Biblical Patriarchs, Arnoul washed them in wine and stacked them neatly. Arnoul carved inscriptions into the caves describing whose bones he believed them to be.
This passage to the caves was sealed at some time after Saladin had recaptured the area, though the roof of the circular room was pierced, and a decorative grate was placed over it. In 1967, after the Six Day War, the area fell into the hands of the Israel Defense Forces, and Moshe Dayan, the Defence Minister, and an amateur archaeologist, attempted to regain access to the tombs. Dayan, not knowing about the serdab entrance, started investigating the shaft visible beyond the decorative grate and came up with the idea of sending someone thin enough through the shaft and down into the chamber below. Dayan eventually found a slim 12 year old girl named Michal and sent her into the chamber with a camera.
Michal explored the round chamber, but failed to spot the stone in the floor that led to the caves. Michal did, however, explore the passage and find steps leading up to the surface, though the exit was blocked by a large stone (this is the entrance near the mihrab). According to the report of her findings, which Michal gave to Dayan after having been lifted back through the shaft, there are 16 steps leading down into the passage, which is 1 cubit wide, 17.37 metres (57.0 ft) and 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) high. In the round chamber, which is 12 metres (39 ft) below the entrance to the shaft, there are three stone slabs, the middle one of which contains a partial inscription of Sura 2, verse 255, from the Qur'an, the famous Ayatul Kursi, Verse of the Throne.
In 1981 Seev Jevin, the former director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, entered the passage after a group of Jewish settlers from Hebron had entered the chamber via the entrance near the mihrab and discovered the square stone in the round chamber that concealed the cave entrance. The reports state that after entering the first cave, which Jevin regarded as empty, he found a passage leading to a second oval chamber, smaller than the first, which contained shards of pottery and a wine jug.
Legends and traditions
Judaism and Islam accept the Jewish tradition that entombed within are the Biblical and Qur'anic patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) as well as three matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah).
In Judaism, the Tomb of the Patriarchs is the second most sacred site in the world, after the Temple Mount. The Book of Genesis relates that Abraham specifically purchased the land as a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite, making it one of two purchases by Abraham of real estate in the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land. According to Genesis, three biblical couples are buried there:
- Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 23:1-20; Genesis 49:31)
- Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 35:29; Genesis 49:31)
- Jacob and Leah (Genesis 49:28-33; Genesis 50:4-5; Genesis 50:12-13)
There is a Jewish tradition, that besides the three biblical couples mentioned above, that Adam and Eve were buried there also. (Zohar, Ruth 96) Certain Kabbalah texts also add that Moses and Zipporah are buried in the cave. 
Another Jewish tradition tells that when Jacob was brought to be buried in the cave, Esau prevented the burial claiming he has the right to be buried in the cave, after some negotiation Naphtali was sent to Egypt to retrieve the document stating Esau sold his part in the cave to Jacob. As this was going Hushim the son of Dan who was hard of hearing did not understood what was going on, and why his grand father is not being buried, so he asked for an explanation, after being given one he gets mad and says:"Is my grandfather to lie there in contempt until Naphtali returns from the land of Egypt?" He then took a club and killed Esau, and Esau's head rolled into the cave. This means that the head of Esau is also buried in the cave. Some Jewish sources record the selling of Esau's right to be buried in the cave - according to a commentary on the "Book of Exodus", Jacob gave all his possessions to acquire a tomb in the Cave of the Patriarchs. He put a large pile of gold and silver before Esau and asked, “My brother, do you prefer your portion of this cave, or all this gold and silver?” Esau's selling to Jacob his right to be buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs is also recorded in Sefer HaYashar.
An early Jewish text, the Genesis Rabba, states that this site is one of three that enemies of Judaism cannot taunt the Jews by saying "you have stolen them," as it was purchased "for its full price" by Abraham.
According to the Midrash, the Patriarchs were buried in the cave because the cave is the threshold to the Garden of Eden. The Patriarchs are said not to be dead but "sleeping". They rise to beg mercy for their children throughout the generations. According to the Zohar, this tomb is the gateway through which souls enter into Gan Eden—heaven.
There is a Jewish tradition that praying at the Tomb will bring good fortune in finding a proper spouse. There are Hebrew prayers of supplication for marriage on the walls of the Sarah cenotaph.
The enclosure is known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque, as Abraham is a revered prophet of Islam who, according to the Qur'an, built the Kaaba in Mecca with his son Ishmael. After the conquest of the city by Umar, this holy place was "simply taken over from the Jewish tradition" by the new rulers; the Herodian enclosure was converted into a mosque and placed under the control of a waqf. The waqf continues to control and maintain most of the site.
According to some Islamic sources it is also the tomb of Joseph. Though the Bible has Joseph buried in Shechem (the present-day Palestinian city of Nablus), Jewish aggadic tradition conserved the idea that he wished to be interred at Hebron, and the Islamic version may reflect this. The apocryphal book, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, also states that this is the burial place of Jacob's twelve sons. And the newer Christian New Testament in Acts 7:16 indicates that the twelve patriarchs were buried in Shechem - the Arab town of Nablus of today.
- Burial places of founders of world religions
- Tomb of the Matriarchs
- List of National Heritage Sites of Israel
- Cave of the Patriarchs massacre
- "Cave of Machpelah". Jewish Virtual Library.
- Genesis 50:5
- Sarah is the only woman in the Pentateuch whose full age is given.
- Easton Bible Dictionary "burial"
- Biblical Archaeology Review, Patriarchal Burial Site Explored for First Time in 700 Years, May/June 1985
- General Convention of the New Jerusalem in the United States of America; Massachusetts New-Church Union (1858). New Jerusalem magazine. A. Howard. p. 119. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
- Le Strange 1890, pp. 317–8 = p. 317, p. 318.
- Kohler 1896, pp. 447ff.
- Runciman 1965 (b), p. 319.
- Kraemer 2001, p. 422.
- "Itinerary," ed. Asher, pp. 40-42, Hebr.
- "Pal. Explor. Fund," Quarterly Statement, 1882, p. 212).
- Dandis, Wala. History of Hebron. 2011-11-07. Retrieved on 2012-03-02.
- Conder 1830, p. 198. The source was a manuscript, The Travels of Ali Bey, vol.ii, pp.232-3.
- "The Cave of Machpelah Tomb of the Patriarchs". Jewish Virtual Library. American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- Hoberman, Haggai (2008). Keneged Kol HaSikuim [Against All Odds] (in Hebrew) (1st ed.). Sifriat Netzaim.
- Esther Rosalind Cohen (1985). Human rights in the Israeli-occupied territories, 1967-1982. Manchester University Press ND. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-7190-1726-1. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
- Dishon (January 1973). Middle East Record 1968. John Wiley and Sons. p. 383. ISBN 978-0-470-21611-8. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
- Mati Alon (2003). The Unavoidable Surgery. Trafford Publishing. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-4120-1004-7. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
- Ervin Birnbaum (1990). In the shadow of the struggle. Gefen Publishing House Ltd. p. 286. ISBN 978-965-229-037-3. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
- William Quandt, Peace Process3rd edition, (Brookings Institution and University of California Press, 2005): 321-329.
- "Israel to include West Bank shrines in heritage plan". Reuters. 2010-02-22.
- "US slams Israel over designating heritage sites". Haaretz. 2010-02-24.
- "Executive Board adopts five decisions concerning UNESCO’s work in the occupied Palestinian and Arab Territories". unesco.org. 2010-10-21.
- "a floorplan".
- "A wider image of the same side.".
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- "photograph of Michal descending through the grated shaft".
- Joseph Free and Howard F. Vos (1992) Archaeology and Bible History Zondervan, ISBN 0-310-47961-4 p 62
- Der Spiegel, 52/2008 Title Story: Abraham, page 104
- These are some of the biblical Jewish sources: "Genesis"23:9 (Sarah),25:9(Abraham),35:29(Isaac)Gen:49:31(Abraham,Sarah,Isaac,Rebecca,Leah),Gen:50:13)
- Although this Islamic opinion does not seem to be recorded in the Qur'an, it is to be found in Ibn Kathir's 14th century Qur'anic commentary Stories of the Prophet
- Talmud Bavli, Sotah 13A
- "Shemot Rabbah"31:17
- Sefer Hayashar Chapter 27 p.77b
- Genesis Rabba 79.7: "And he bought the parcel of ground, where he had spread his tent...for a hundred pieces of money." Rav Yudan son of Shimon said: ‘This is one of the three places where the non-Jews cannot deceive the Jewish People by saying that they stole it from them, and these are the places: Ma’arat HaMachpela, the Temple and Joseph's burial place. Ma’arat HaMachpela because it is written: ‘And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver,’ (Genesis, 23:16); the Temple because it is written: ‘So David gave to Ornan for the place,’ (I Chronicles, 21:26); and Joseph's burial place because it is written: ‘And he bought the parcel of ground...Jacob bought Shechem.’ (Genesis, 33:19)." See also: Kook, Abraham Isaac, Moadei Hare'iya, pp. 413–415.
- Zohar 127a
- Hastings, Adrian,"Holy lands and their political consequences", Nations and Nationalism, Volume 9, Issue 1, pages 29–54, January 2003.
- Shalom Goldman, 'The Wiles of Women/the Wiles of Men: Joseph and Potiphar's Wife in Ancient Near Eastern, Jewish, and Islamic Folklore,SUNY Press, 1995 pp.126-7
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- Cave of the Patriarchs
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- "Machpelah". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- Bible Land Library
- Photos and Diagram of Underground at Caves of Machpela