|Woodcut by Gustave Doré depicting|
the burial of Sarah in the cave
The Quran leads Muslims to believe an ambiguous contradiction to the much earlier Bible, that Abraham’s son Ishmael (by Hagar) was offered as his child sacrifice. However, the Bible makes it clear, Isaac was bound at the altar and the commentators back it up with ample grammatical, mystical and literary proofs. One such commentary tells that during the sacrificial event known as “Akeidat (the binding of) Yitzchak’ (Isaac), Isaac’s mother Sarah, who was in Kiryat Arba (Hebron) at the time, passed away from the ethereal shock of that moment. Elated Abraham returned home from the site of the binding at Mount Moriah only to buy the cave of Machpelah and bury his wife.
Isaac remained in the vicinity of Mount Moriah and was later betrothed to Rebecca who may have been three when Sarah passed. She eventually gave birth to twins Jacob and Esau who grew up mired in their bitter sibling rivalry. Rebecca is said to have perfectly resembled their grandmother Sarah. Like his father who married into the extended maternal family, Jacob was sent away to be betrothed. On his outward journey, at the site of Isaac’s binding on Mount Moriah Jacob dreamed of a stairway bridging earth to heaven. There he set a monument and made a covenant to return and build a house of God, provided he was blessed to return. Twenty years later, a successful Jacob returned together with his wives Leah, Rachel, their 12 children and significant entourage.
|Jacob's Stairway leads to Jacob's Monument (matzevah)|
On Jacob’s way to Machpelah to bury his mother, the portal to the next world demanded Rachel's soul. While giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob’s 13th child she passed away before arriving at Machpelah. Rachel was buried between Mount Moriah (Jerusalem) and Hebron, outside Bethlehem along the straight line route of Jacob’s journey. On that route, it is said Rachel reminds the Jewish people her tears are the reason they merit the rebuilding of the Jerusalem’s third and final temple, at that very same place on Mount Moriah.
The ignorant are dumbfounded by the intricate logic of the Torah’s grammatical foundation; the chronology, letters, words and phrases that make up Israel’s Bible, instead they berate Israel’s indigenous record. Some honor its chronological construct, cunningly fitting their views to interpretations’ strictly codified rules. Still, some exploited the rules of time and place to further their self-serving ideals and successfully diverted the nations thinking. With the discovery of new archaeological evidence, history is being clarified and references to Salem, Luz, Beit El, Sukkot, Mount Moriah, City of David and Jerusalem become one and the same by time, place and spiritual context.
Finally we are being confronted by the stunning prospect that Jacob’s Beit El (House of God) is presently being excavated at the City of David. Through this lens we are, once again able to grapple our perceptions and misconceptions of Torah’s truth.