« הקודםהמשך »
battle was fought, in which Chedorlaomer was slain, his army routed, and Lot with his family delivered from captivity.
Some years now passed by, in which the names of Hebron and Mamre do not occur, though it is probable that some of the incidents recorded happened there. Then “the Lord appeared unto him in the plain of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him.” The prompt hospitality of the patriarch was just such as would be offered by an Arab sheikh at the present day. Travellers have delighted to illustrate the history by narrating similar incidents in their own experience. Soon the mysterious visitants “rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom : and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way” over the ridge of hills which divided Mamre from the doomed city. Two of them continued their journey, “and went toward Sodom.” The third remains - it is the Lord Himself, the Angel of the Covenant. He discloses to Abraham the impending destruction of the cities of the plain, which would involve Lot and his family in the general ruin. The patriarch, who had once before rescued his nephew from the cruelty of man, now ventures to interpose between him and the judgments of God. His fervent prayer having reached its end, “the Lord went His way, as soon as He had left communing with Abraham : and Abraham returned unto his place.”. With the dawn of day we find him an eager watcher from the hill-top above his tent. “Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord : and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace." It affords an interesting confirmation of this part of the narrative that from the summit of the hill just above the traditional site of Mamre a view may be gained, through a notch of the dividing ridge, right down into the desolate valley beyond.
Hebron next comes before us as the scene of bereavement. “And Sarah died in Kirjath-Arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.” He, to whom the whole land had been promised in “a covenant which could not be broken," possessed not a foot of soil in it, and must buy a grave saying, “that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” The negotiation with the sons of Heth which followed, is finely characteristic of the courtesy, the generosity, and the practical wisdom of the bereaved patriarch. The purchase of the cave of Machpelah is effected and the place of burial is transferred, the narrative of the completion of the purchase being recorded in terms, the precision of which is like that of a legal document.3 Sarah is buried there, and “then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah."
'Gen. xviii. 1, 2, 16, 33. ? Ibid. xix. 27, 28. Ibid. xxiii. 2-20. • Ibid. xxv. 8, 9.
THE PATRIARCHS AT HEBRON.
Yet again we read that “ Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Man unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned. And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.”.
Here Jacob lived after the death of his father, and hence he sent the beloved son of his beloved Rachel to visit his brethren at Shechem. Here, too, he buried Leah, as Sarah and Rebekah had already been laid side by side. And "he gave commandment concerning his bones,” that the same sacred enclosure should be his last resting-place.3 Hither his embalmed body was : Gen. xxxv. 27-29.
? Ibid. xxxvii, 1-14.
3 Ibid. xlix. 29-33.
brought with all the pomp and ceremonial of mourning for which Egypt was famous, and here, probably, the mummy of the last of the three great patriarchs rests to this day.'
We have already seen that the spies, starting from Kadesh-Barnea, passed through Hebron when sent up “to spy out the land.". One of them, Caleb the son of Jephunneh, faithful among the faithless, had rebuked the fears of the people, and “wholly followed the Lord God of Israel.” To him and his heirs Hebron had been promised as the reward of his fidelity. After the defeat of the Ammonites by Joshua, when the city was stormed and sacked by the victorious Israelites, Caleb claimed the fulfilment of this promise, “ And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.”3
For some time onward, Hebron receives only slight and passing mention. But in this old royal city, hallowed by so many associations, David established
his throne on the death of Saul, and here he reigned as king of Judah for “seven years and six months.”+ Soon Hebron again comes before us as a place of burial. Abner, falling a victim to the vengeance and ambition of Joab, who slew him in the gate of the city, received a magnificent funeral, and king David himself followed the bier, and they buried Abner in Hebron, and the king lifted up his voice and wept, and all the people wept." A tomb is yet shown and regarded with great reverence as that of Abner.
One spot in the suburbs of Hebron we are enabled to associate with the residence of David here. There are two tanks or pools just outside the
! Gen. 1. 1-13. It will be observed that the historian lays special stress upon the embalmment. "And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to cinbalm his father : and the physicians embalmed Israel. And forty days were fulfilled for him ; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed."
? Num. xiii. 22. 3 Ibid. xiii. 33 ; xiv. 6-24; xxxii. 12. Joshua xiv. 6-15; XV. 13. • 2 Sam. ii. 2-11. 1 Kings ii. II. 1 Chron. iii. 1-4.
52 Sam. iii. 22, 39.
MOSQUE AT HEBRON.
city gate, evidently of great antiquity. It was here that he executed the murderers of Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul. “And David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and
hanged them up over the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-bosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron.": When the tribes of Israel came down to Hebron, and made David king
1 2 Sam. iv. 12.
over all the land, the interest and importance of the city ceased. Only once again does it appear in history. Here Absalom came and raised the standard of revolt against his father, and “sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then shall ye say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron.". The name does not occur in the New Testament, nor does our Lord appear to have visited it in the course of His ministry; but on the flight into Egypt, when Joseph "arose and took the young Child and His mother by night,”? they must have passed through the city and probably rested here on the first night of the journey.
Great and various as is the interest associated with Hebron, that interest culminates in the cave of Machpelah. Here lie the bodies of the three great patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with their wives - Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah. Mohammedan tradition affirms that the embalmed body of Joseph, likewise, rests here, and his cenotaph is in the mosque over the cave, with those of the other patriarchs.”3
It is thus the most interesting Campo Santo in the world, and shares with Jerusalem the distinction of being regarded with reverence alike by Jews,
Christians, and Mohammedans. If it were possible for us to ascertain with certainty the sepulchre of our Lord, we should approach it with yet deeper feelings of awe and reverence, though He lay there only for thirty-six hours. But in seeking the place “where the Lord lay," we have nothing to guide us but vague conjecture and dubious tradition. Here, however, the identification is absolute and
beyond the reach of scepticism. ROOF OF MOSQUE OVER MACHTELAH.
Guarded with superstitious care for more than three thousand years, we can feel complete confidence that "the Father of the faithful” and “the Friend of God” lies here with his sons. ' 2 Sam. xv. 1c.
: Matt. ii. 14. - We learn from Gen. 1. 25, 26, Exod. xiii. 19, and Joshua xxiv. 32, that Joseph gave strict commands to his descendants that his body should be carried back into Canaan, that it was embalmed and placed in a coffin, that in the confusion of the flight out of Egypt his dying injunction was not forgotten, and that “the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor” (Joshua xxiv. 32). The Mohammedan tradition is that the mummy was afterwards removed to Machpelah. The ambiguous statement of Stephen (Acts vi. 16) seems to imply that though buried at Shechem he was yet laid in the sepulchre with Abraham. A passage in Josephus (Ant. ii. 8, 2) may bear the same meaning; and the spot pointed out as that of Joseph's tomb is in perfect accordance with this view, it being detached from that of the others at one corner of the mosque, as though the wall had been broken through at a later period than the previous interments, and after the main entrance into the cave had been finally closed up.