Sunday, February 03, 2013

Hebron: One of 4 Sacred Jewish Cities; Part of "West Bank"

Nadene Goldfoot
Abraham bought a plot of land from the Hittites that is about 18 miles south of Jerusalem.  Land the plot was part of was called Kiriath-Arba then, but shortly was named Hebron, which became a city of Judah.  This piece of land was the Cave of Machpelah  that he needed in which to  bury Sarah.  Today a mosque stands on the site.  Abraham turned out to be the father of all the peoples, mainly Jews and Muslims.  Abraham had entered Hebron after arriving in Canaan after leaving Ur, his family home.

Moses didn't enter the land of Canaan, but Joshua took over for him.  Joshua assigned Hebron to Caleb, and it was deemed a Levitical city for the tribe of Levites, who had been given the job of being teachers and traveling around to all the tribes teaching  without owning any land of their own.  It was also one of the 6 cities of refuge.

King David ruled there for 7 1/2 years before making Jerusalem his capital.  A Jewish community lived there throughout the Byzantine Period under Arab rule.  The modern city stands just east of the historical location.  Jews listed Hebron, Jerusalem, Tiberias and Safed as the 4 sacred Jewish towns.  Jews continued to live in Hebron.  In 1890 there were 1,500 and they had a yeshivot and religious school.  The great Lithuanian yeshivah of Slobadka was transferred there in 1925.

1929 was the year Arabs massacred many of the 700 Jews remaining there. It was also the year of the economic crash in the USA.  The survivors left.  Two years later 39 Jewish families returned.  Again the Arabs rioted in 1936 causing Jews to leave again.  Simultaneously  anti-Semitism was occurring in Germany with WWII starting in September of 1939.  The population in 1967 after the 6 Day War of Israel was 38,310.  Jews returned to Hebron and established the Kiryat Arba quarter east of the city.  In 1988 the population was 3,700.  Today there are 130,000 Arabs living in Hebron along with 530 Jews and 3 Christians.  6,000 Jews live right next to it in Kiryat Arba.

" According to the Oslo accords, the IDF has sole responsibility for the security of the Jewish community of Hebron."  "Under the Hebron Agreement, the city was divided into two areas: H-1, under full Palestinian Authority, and H-2, under full Israeli control. At the outset of the second intifada in 2000, the IDF resumed operations in the H-1 area. In 2003, the IDF began constructing two permanent fortified posts in Arab neighborhoods which overlook Jewish homes in the center of Hebron."

 IDF just had to detain a Palestinian and it made news in the paper.  That was the tip of the iceberg.  A Hamas cell was found to be plotting a center in Hebron as well as kidnapping of Israeli citizens.

Resource:  The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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