The Tomb of Rachel is the site that is said to be the burial location of the matriarch Rachel. The tomb is considered a holy place to Muslims, Jews and Christians alike. It is located at the northern entrance of the city of Bethlehem and is built in the traditional style of maqam. The burial site as it was mentioned in Muslim, Jewish and Christian texts has been contested along with other territories in the north. While the site is thought to not necessarily be the location where the Tomb of Rachel is located, it is considered to be the most likely spot and is recognized as such.
The story behind the tomb claims that when Rachel died, Jacob and his family were not far at all from Bethlehem. Even so, he did not take her home to be buried in Hebron nor did he take her to Bethlehem. Instead, she was buried in the middle of nowhere on the side of a road to serve as a place for weary travelers and those forced into exile to stop and cry to Rachel, taking comfort from her presence there.
Traditions surrounding the Tomb of Rachel date back for as long as the 4th century AD. In the late 7th century, the tomb was marked with a stone pyramid that was free from any decoration and wasn't mentioned again in texts until the Crusader period where it again was mentioned.
Who is Rachel?
She is Biblical Figure and Meaning of the Name is the Sheep EWE, she is the mother of Joseph and Benjamin and the second and most beloved wife of patriarch Jacob, She is first mentioned in Old Testament / Hebrew Bible in Genesis 29.
Mentions of Rachel Tomb in History
- Eusebius and Bordeaux pligrim both mention the tomb
- crusader renovate it to dome structure in the 12th century
- Muhammad IDris refers to 12 stones
- Benjamin of Tudela refer to 11 stones placed at her tomb excluding benjamin
- 14th Cenutry sacrapgus shape inside the dome
- Fr Amico 1569 left us a drawing
- 1615 Muhammad pasha gave right to its exclusive use
- 1814 Sir Moses Montefiore repaired it and added Mihrab facing mecca for Muslim use and keys given to eastern Jews (Sephardi) and western Jew (ashkenazi)