Pilgrims who visited the Holy Land between the IV and VII century

Illustrations 8b: Jerusalem's surroundings - Bethlehem & Hebron (28-30)

28. Rachel's tomb  28.

The traditional site of the tomb of Rachel, the favourite wife of Jacob, who died in giving birth to Benjamin (Gen. 35:19-20), is still pointed out on the outskirts of Bethlehem. The tomb, now in Israeli hands, is covered by a square building, which once was a mosque. Sir M. Montefiore added a small portico in the first part of the19th century for the sake of the Jews. Travellers could always find, in the small niche on the front wall, fresh water to quench their thirst (photographed 1866). The gospel of Matthew (2:17-18) mentions "Rachel weeping for her children" (cf. Jeremiah 31:15) in connection with the Slaughter of the Innocents by King Herod.


Mosaic floor in the Constantinian basilica of Bethlehem. Excavations carried out by the British Mandatory Government in 1934-1935 brought to light the remains of the 4th century basilica some 30/70cm below the level of the floor of the present church. Above the sacred Grotto, traditionally indicated as that in which Jesus was born from the Virgin Mary, he built an octagonal monument against which abutted on the western side a colonnaded basilica.

 29. Mosaic from Bethlehem

30. The tomb of the Patriarchs  30.

Aerial view of the Haram (sacred precinct) of Hebron. The Arabic name of the town "Al-Khalil" means "the intimate friend (of God)". The main wall is still standing as it was some two thousands years ago when it was built, yet some elements should be considered as later additions. The mosque (formerly a church) now occupies half of the internal space, minarets rise in two opposite corners, and a crenellation shows up on the external walls. Six stone monuments, fully clothed with colored drapes, commemorate the Fathers and Mothers of the Jewish, Christian, and Moslem Faiths: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sara, Rebecca, and Leah

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Project, design, research and realization carried out by Eugenio Alliata ofm,
assistant professor of Christian Archaeology at SBF-Jerusalem.
Updated Thu, Dec 9, 1999 at 04:49 by John Abela ofm - Space by courtesy of Christus Rex
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