20,000 Israelis mark Abraham's purchase of Hebron cave

Wednesday, November 07, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

At least 20,000 Israeli Jews showed up in the biblical Judean town of Hebron last weekend for the annual reading of the Bible passage that recounts Abraham's purchase of a burial cave in Judaism's second holiest city.

A Hebron Jewish community spokesman told Israel National News that the event was one of the largest annual faith-based gatherings in Israel.

Genesis 23 tells the story of Abraham's purchase of the Cave of Machpela as a burial place for his wife Sarah. Eventually, Abraham, his son Isaac and his wife Rebecca, and their son Jacob and his wife Leah would all be buried in the cave, making it one of the holiest sites on earth for Jews and all Bible-believers.

As with other biblical sites holy to Jews and Christians, the cave and the Herodian complex that now sits over it have also been claimed by Islam. Today the site is split into Jewish and Muslim halves, and its a point of tension between the hundreds of thousands of Muslims and the few hundred Jews that live in Hebron.

In addition to being the burial place of Israel's beloved patriarchs and matriarchs, Hebron was also the first capital of King David.

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