We met Tova this morning for a trip to Hebron. We stopped on the way at a lookout with a great view of Jerusalem from the south.

We saw the protective fence along highway 60 to protect drivers from molotov cocktails and rocks being thrown at them.

The grape harvest is over. We saw plenty of vineyards along the way.

We went to the location of Machpelah, where Abraham purchased the cave for a burial place. Herod built one of his massive stone structures over the spot. It has the same type of smoothly finished and beveled stones we saw in the Western Wall back in Jerusalem.

The tomb monuments are not the actual tombs, but are inside this massive structure over the burial cave.

Also inside Herod’s walls is a mosque. Tova said she couldn’t go in, but we could. We were never inside one before, so we went. Julia was helped into a special garment with a hood. A Muslim man who spoke English and wore American type clothes was quite eager to give us a tour.

From the Tomb of the Patriarchs we went to see Tova’s friend, David Wilder. A Jew living in Hebron for many years, he has seen conditions between Arabs and Israelis change over the years. He doesn’t like the term settler, with the negative connotation given by the press, and the idea of being temporary. He showed the boxes outside his windows that used to be filled with sandbags.

One of his books has a hole in it from a sniper bullet. The shooting stopped when the army took control of the hills around Hebron.

A museum in the same building had presentations about the history of Hebron, including the 1929 massacre of the Jews.

Tel Hebron has finds from Abraham’s time, and even earlier Canaanite times. Here are the steps likely leading up to the city gate. Further excavation is prohibited for now.

It’s interesting how many synagogues have been destroyed and rebuilt. Here’s a view inside a small one in Hebron, with Torah scrolls rescued from a fire.

On the way back to Jerusalem we stopped outside of Bethlehem to see the monument for Rachel’s tomb. Tova explained to us that Jews do not visit these sites to pray to the dead people, or to saints. They are praying to God, but hoping the good favor shown by God to the patriarchs and matriarchs will remind Him to do the same for them.

Here’s a picture, shared by David Wilder, showing the celebration this past weekend. Each year, when the weekly reading of the Torah includes Genesis 23, tens of thousands of Jews gather here for celebration.

Andrew Zimmerman

By Andrew Zimmerman

Excited about travel in the Bible lands!