So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD . (Genesis 13:18 NIV)
After the death of his wife Sarah, Abraham bought the cave from Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite. When Abraham passed away, he was burried as well here.
His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. (Genesis 25:9-10 NIV)
This site has been holy to the Jewish
people since. In fact some say that Adam
were buried here as well, making the site holy before Abraham purchased it. The cave has long been the site of pilgrims
coming to visit, well before there was a Jewish State
. Through much peril these pilgrims adventured through the Muslim
lands. A Jewish Rabbi
shared of his visit to the cave.
And in the valley is the Cave of Machpela, if a Jew should pay the Ishmaelite watchman, he will open for him an iron gate. From there one descends stairs with a candle in hand. Upon reaching the third cave one will find six graves. These are the graves of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and opposite them, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. 1
Herod the Great established a 12 meter wall around the cave and Justinian ordered a church built on the site in 570 AD. At this point there was a synagogue built next to the church. When the Muslim conquest took place the two structures were destroyed and rebuilt into a mosque. During the Crusades the mosque became a church and the Jews were driven out of the area. When Saladin conquored the area again for Muslim rule it was restored to a mosque. At this point Jews were forbidden to enter the area. Today both Jews and Muslims can enter the area. It was the site of a recent bloodbath.
Other sources include http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Peace/tiph5.html and http://www.tiph.org/Page.asp?title=Hebron%20Background