Ma'arat HaMachpelah

Cave of Machpelah

Useful Information

Location: Hebron.
(31.524497, 35.110940)
Classification: SubterraneaCave Tomb
Guided tours:  
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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3700 BP cave purchased by Abraham.
FEB-1994 Dr. Baruch Goldstein fired with a Galil assault rifle on Muslim worshippers murdering 29 and wounding 125.


The Ma'arat HaMachpelah (Cave of Machpelah) is the second holiest place for the Jewish people. The cave and the adjoining field were purchased by Abraham some 3700 years ago. It is today located inside a Synagoge.

This cave was used as a burial place over centuries. It is said to be the resting place of many Jewish Patriachs and Matriarchs, including Avraham (Abraham), Yitzchok (Isaac), Yakov (Jacob), Sarah, Rivkah (Rebecca) and Leah (Leahour).

Abraham was once visited by three angels, so he went to the flock to choose three cows to prepare them as a meal for his guests. One of the cows ran away into Machpelah Cave and Abraham chased it. In the cave he saw Adam and Eve buried there, and he realized that it would be a great merit to be also buried there. The fragrance of the cave refreshed his spirit, and he made it a habit to worship here every day, and so it became the place were god spoke to him.

Knowing that it was a holy place, Abraham longed to be buried there himself. He also wanted his wife Sarah to be buried in the cave. And he had another reason why he wanted the cave as a burial place: he believed, one should avoid to be close to the wicked, both before and after death. As the Hittites were immoral, Abraham did not want to bury Sarah with them in the same cemetery.

[Abraham] spoke to them, saying "If it is really your will that I bury my dead out of my presence, listen to me and intercede for me with Ephron, son of Tzochar. Let him give me Machpelah Cave, which belongs to him, on the edge of his field. Let him give it to me in your presence for its full price as a burial property.

The Bible, Genesis 23:8,9

His sons, Isaac and Ishmael buried him in Machpelah Cave, in the field of Ephron son of Tzohar the Hittite, which borders Mamre, the field that Abraham purchased from the children of Chet - this is where Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried.

The Bible, 25:9,10:

Machpelah Cave was owned by a man named Ephron son of Tzochar. The name Machpelah is derived from the root kaphal, meaning "double". There are two different explanations, either because the cave had two levels or because it was a cave within a cave. This safe place was perfect for a sepulchre.

Today the tomb is sacred to both Jews and Muslims, and is used for daily prayer services by both religions. It is known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque. Sometimes there are violent and armed hostilities, sometimes there are assaults. But there is also an annual reading of the Bible passage that recounts Abraham's purchase, where more than 20,000 Israeli Jews show up in one of the largest faith-based gatherings in Israel.