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The Cave of Machpela

The Cave of the Patriarchs is a series of subterranean caves located in the heart of Hebron's old city. Situated beneath a large rectangular Herodian era structure this site is the burial place of three biblical couples: (1) Abraham and Sarah; (2) Isaac and Rebecca; (3) Jacob and Leah. According to the Midrash and other sources, the Cave of the Patriarchs also contains the head of Esau.

Until June 1967 Jews were forbidden from entering the site, and were not allowed past the seventh step leading up to the tombs. Following the Israeli victory over the Jordanians in the Six Day War, the area came back under Jewish control for the first time in 2,000 years and the 1,400-year-long restriction limiting Jews to the seventh step was lifted. In 1968, a special arrangement was made to accommodate Jewish services on the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement.

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