We are presenting this subject out of its Biblical
chronological order because the events connected with itís discovery, as
well as the significance of it, necessitate our placing it with the Ark of
The story of this project must begin in 1979, for it was
then that Ron met a young Arab man in Jerusalem at a restaurant he and his
boys frequented -- and this young man told Ron of something very strange
that was happening at his familyís home in Hebron. (To protect the
familyís identity, we will call the young Arab man "James.")
James explained to Ron how members of his family kept
seeing what looked like a fire off in the distance from their residence --
at a site on their property. But, he explained that whenever they would
see this fire and go to examine it, they would find nothing when they got
there. No charred wood -- nothing. He was insistent that Ron come and see
it, but Ron felt it was just a "side-track"- a way for James to get Ron to
go with him and perhaps stop off at a family memberís shop, where he would
be offered a 10% discount. Ron and his sons were working on the Ark of the
Covenant site and he didnít want to waste any precious time, so he did the
only thing he knew to do -- he prayed about it. If it rained and he wasnít
able to work the next day, yes, he would go with James. And the next day
it rained. Ron never depends on his own wisdom in these matters but asks
for a direct sign of Godís will as to what to do.
Surprisingly, James led him right to his family home with
no stops. The family is very large- many brothers- and they all lived in
the area, some at home with their mother, and some had their own homes. He
took Ron to the site and Ron saw nothing. Nothing, that is, except
limestone swelling up from beneath the surface of the earth like a giant
balloon buried under them. To Ron, this suggested perhaps a cave under
their feet. He picked up a large rock and threw it down hard upon the
limestone and the resulting thump resounded through the area like a large
hollow drum. So he asked James if there was a cave anywhere in the area.
The answer was yes. He showed Ron an entrance to a cave which was too
small to enter; a site which had become a depositary for discarded junk,
just as the site he was excavating in Jerusalem. (When he first pointed to
the area he later excavated for the Ark, it too was a junk pile area.)
The family was serious about their story -- they were a
bit frightened about the lights they had seen there. And Ron was puzzled -
he couldnít do anything to help them. But he knew the circumstances that
had led him here were not of the ordinary sort. And from the beginning,
Ron suspected that this was probably the site of the real cave of Machpelah - the burial site of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their wives. But
for the next 14 years, he never saw the site again.
"James" Entered the Chamber with the Ark
In 1982, James worked with Ron in the cave system in
Jerusalem after both of Ronís sons had gotten sick and had to go home.
Being quite small and slim, James was able to easily enter the small areas
in the cave system and tell Ron if anything was there. In January, he
entered a darkened chamber that Ron thought just another dead end. As
James crawled in, Ron was about to hand him the flashlight when suddenly
James came scurrying out of the small hole: "Whatís in there?! Whatís in
there?! Iím not going back in there!!" He was terrified- completely. And
he never worked in the cave again. But if he hadnít come scurrying out of
that hole like he had seen the devil himself, Ron would have never paid it
a bit more thought. He never would have enlarged the hole and crawled in
himself on January 6, 1982 at 2:00 in the afternoon- he never would have
found the Ark of the Covenant if it hadnít been for Jamesí reaction of
complete and total terror.
James went back to work in the restaurant where Ron had
met him. But in the mid 1980s, James had the misfortune of visiting in
Jordan at the wrong time. Ron later learned that he happened to be there
at a point in time when a mandate was passed that all Arabs out of the
country of Israel at that time could not return. And to this day, Ron has
never seen James again, although he has spoken with him numerous times by
A Most Fortuitous Reunion
In late 1992, another fortuitous event occurred. Ron ran
into some people he had known back during that time who also knew James
and his family. Ron asked them if they knew about Jamesí family- if they
were still there, etc. The memory of the events in Hebron never left Ronís
mind. Amazingly, Ron ended up visiting the family in Hebron that very
trip. And even more amazingly, the family remembered him and were very
happy to see him. But things had changed over the years. The brothers had
all married and built homes in the area. Other relatives had homes behind
them- the site Ron examined years ago was surrounded by homes, all within
"spitting distance". When he had been there in 1979, the area was basically
a vineyard. The way things had worked out, Ron figured it was time to see
what was really here. So, he sat down with the family- some members of the
family speak very good English, and they translated for the rest of the
The Family Is Willing
Ron began by explaining to them that he believed that
Abraham and his family were buried on their land- a potentially sensitive
thing to tell this Moslem family who lived quite near the traditional
"Cave of Machpelah". He carefully explained his research and why the
traditional site cannot be the actual site. Interestingly, they told Ron
that they believed the traditional site wasnít authentic. They were
interested in finding out what was on their property and told Ron they
would arrange to enter the cave by excavating it themselves. Ron needed to
survey the site with his electronic equipment to locate the chamber before
they began to dig, and as he was working on another project and only had a
short time to visit, he told them he would be back soon. So they bid him
farewell and said they looked forward to seeing him again.
In April of 1993, Ron returned to Israel. I went with him,
as did Lloyd Hiler, a surgeon from Memphis, Tennessee. Leaving Lloyd and I
in Jerusalem, Ron went alone for the initial visit, then came and told us
to get our bags- we were going to stay at the site. Now, Hebron is an area
of a great deal of tension. An American woman would be very conspicuous,
so I had to stay out of sight most of the daytime hours. Even Lloyd and
Ron had to be careful about being seen. We stayed indoors the rest of the
day. That night, under the full moon, we all went to the site in the midst
of all the homes. It was a garden area and the brothers had planted fruit
trees and all sorts of herbs in the area, so we had to watch carefully
where we walked. We stood up on that high plain and looked out where we
could see Tel Aviv off in the distance. The brothers told us how they were
able to see the scud missiles fall there during the Gulf war. But as we
chit-chatted, Ron was nonchalantly doing electronic scanning of the site.
After about 1 1/2 hours, we went back in the house we were to stay in.
Ron, Lloyd and I all camped in one room- Ron and I on a mattress on the
floor and Lloyd on a couch. In the next room was one of the wives and the
daughter of a brother who had 2 wives. He told us he would stay with his
other wife that night, who lived in a house just about 20 feet away. I had
a hard time with that situation- I liked both wives equally and I couldnít
imagine living in such a situation. But I must say, they seemed quite
happy, although I never saw the 2 wives together.
Finally morning came and we all awoke, anxious and a bit
nervous. The brothers had been busy even before we awoke. A plan had been
formulated the night before. The family would dig underground into the
site- their "cover story" for curious onlookers would be that they were
digging a well. They did not want other prying eyes to know what they were
really doing. This meant that Ron couldnít participate in the actual
excavation, at least not for the time being.
Work Begins Immediately!
Before we awoke, one brother had arranged for a backhoe to
come that very day and begin the dig! I couldnít believe it- there is no
way we could get a backhoe here in our country on such short notice! But
by about 1:00 that afternoon, it was digging the hole. I was so amazed at
this- to us it seemed that the Lord was working one miracle after another.
We were praying constantly that the Lordís Will would be done and for Him
to let us know what to do. After all, the only reason Ron believed this
site contained the Cave of Machpelah was because of the strange events
which led to his coming to the site. I managed to video the backhoe
through the window, since I couldnít go outside. When all was said and
done, I wanted as much documentation of the events as I could get. We were
trying not to act excited and at the same time, I admit to being a bit
nervous. After all, no one knew where we were if anything happened
to us. We were not exactly on friendly turf- Hebron is a dangerous area
for tourists of any kind, but especially Americans. But the family was
very gracious to us and I felt very safe with them. We had to rent an
Israeli rental car for driving in Israeli territory and then we had to
rent one from a Jordanian rental company to drive in Arab sectors. And we
also had to place a certain item in the front dash which we were told
would be a signal not to throw rocks at us. Weíre not sure what it all
meant, but we did it and it worked.
I never got to go back to the site in the back yard again
that trip, even though it was only about 100 steps from the house. Work
had begun and I had to stay out of sight. Ron and Lloyd would each go back
there at times, but they didnít dare take cameras. The trick was going to
be in avoiding attention of the neighboring family members. We all knew
that the motivation of the family was more than just finding Abrahamís
burial site- they sensed that this could be something that could bring
good fortune to the family. And that was fine with us. After all, it is
Finally, we decided to come back home, If we changed our
airline tickets, it would cost a lot extra. The initial work of digging
would be slow and we could do nothing to help. The entire family was
extremely gracious to us all and we grew to love the children, especially
the little 4 year old girl who lived in the house we were staying in. She
had been so shy with us the first day. But the second day, when I began to
talk "bird talk" to her little pet finches like she did, she warmed right
up. She recited both the Arabic and the English alphabet and tried
desperately to teach me the Arabic alphabet. I was a total failure- she
would repeat the Arabic letters to me, pressing my cheeks together with
her little hands exactly like Iím sure her teacher did to her when she was
learning her pronunciation. When I would say it all wrong, she and her
mother would just giggle and then- so as not to make me feel embarrassed-
they would repeat it over and over again for me. I videotaped this entire
scenario and I will never forget how stupid I felt. This little 4 year old
knew my alphabet by heart, but I couldnít even say hers. And to think, we
have children in this country who canít even read when they graduate.
It had been decided before we left that when the brothers
entered the cave, they would call us. If not, Ron would return in June.
When no word came, he arranged his tickets for late June. And just after
he arranged for them, the call came: "Hello, Mr. Ron- when are you
coming?" Ron replied "About June 22nd". The only reply was "Welcome!" The
oldest brother, and spokesman for the family, did well- Ron had asked him
not to discuss the project over phone lines and he didnít. And we were
excited! We called Lloyd and "yes", he wanted to go. But there was one
problem- Ron would be alone in Hebron the first few days as Lloydís
surgery schedule wouldnít allow him to come until the 28th. Ron and I
didnít discuss it much, but I was praying for someone to go with him. And
9 days before he was to leave, we had a young couple visit our home, Marty
and Julie. Marty had told us several months ago that he wanted to go to
Turkey and help work on Noahís Ark if the chance ever came up and Ron
needed him, but as he and his wife are expecting their first child in
August, we didnít even mention this trip to him. But he asked the magic
question- "Do you have any trips planned in the near future and do you
need any help?" To make a long story short, in 9 days, Marty got his
passport and ticket and went along. I was so very thankful that the Lord
had arranged for Marty to go- not only would Ron not be alone in Hebron,
but Martyís profession is drilling into the earth and checking underground
structures- the very method Ron was expecting to employ on this cave with
fiber-optic type cameras.
INSIDE THE CAVE!
Ancient Structure Directly Above the Cave
But of equal interest was the ancient building above the
cave. Ron had seen this structure years earlier but since he didnít know
exactly where the cave was, he didnít associate the building with the
cave. But once inside the cave, they found what looked to be a "vent" hole
in the ceiling of the cave, and discovered that the building was built
directly over this hole. While the "vent" hole is now plugged with rocks,
it may be that initially the building was built to cover this open vent
and prevent rain, snow and debris from falling into the tomb. At the same
time, the buildingís design indicates that it was erected as a type of
monument, as it is about the same size as the cave.
In a few days, Lloyd arrived and all three men carefully
documented the evidence. They videoed and photographed. They measured
everything. Samples of the material from the floor of the cave and each
crypt were taken, which will be examined in laboratories for evidences.
And then, Ron, Marty and Lloyd headed home.
The work is not near finished. The brothers are, as I
write this, sifting through the soil and debris in the floor of the cave,
searching for anything that will give evidence. Now, we will share with
you the evidence at the site, and hopefully by the next newsletter, we
will have the evidence we believe is there. As we all reviewed the video
tapes and photographs, we realize we are in the same situation we were at
in 1990 with Sodom and Gomorrah- we believed without a doubt that those
were the ashen remains of the cities of the plain. But we didnít have
the definitive evidence until we found the sulfur capsules throughout the
ash. Today, we really believe this site to be the cave of Machpelah- the
evidence has revealed nothing which would negate that conclusion. And we
wonít stop work until we find the evidence we believe is there, or until
the Lord intervenes.
AN EXAMINATION OF THE
The first consideration must be location- the site we are
working on is in the suburbs of present day Hebron. Hebron is situated in
a valley which runs north/south, surrounded by beautiful, terraced hills.
The cave is situated on a plain atop one of the many, many hills. The
information given in the Bible as to location is scant- the cave is spoken
of as being "before" Mamre, which indicates that it is adjacent to it. And
all we know of Mamre is that it is a plain area and it is in the Hebron
area: GENESIS 13:18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt
in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built
there an altar unto the LORD.
The site of the cave is on a plain, near its edge, at the
top of a high hill. Just a few hundred feet from it, the hill begins its
descent and goes straight down. It is breathtaking to look out from the
site in the direction of the fertile, green valley.
The next clue, we learn from the time the Lord comes to
visit Abraham, accompanied by the angels who go on to destroy Sodom and
Gomorrah: GENESIS 18:1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the
plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the
Abraham was "in the plains of Mamre" when the Lord visited
him. The next day, after the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed,
Abraham was able to look out and see the smoke arising from the entire
area, which is consistent with his being atop a high area: GENESIS
19:27 And Abraham gat gat early in the morning to the place where he stood
before the LORD: 28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and
toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the
country went up as the smoke of a furnace.
When you are in the valley below this site, you canít see
anything off in the distance except the surrounding hills. To be able to
see what is described in this verse, Abraham would have needed to be high
up, not in the valley. Again, our site meets this criteria.
Who was buried in the cave?
What should we expect to find in the Cave of Machpelah?
Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah were all buried in the cave
(Genesis.49:31). We knew that Jacob had been mummified in Egypt: GENESIS
50:2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm this
father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. 12 And his sons did unto him
according as he commanded them: 13 For his sons carried him unto the land
of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which
Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a burying place of Ephron
the Hittite, before Mamre.
Our greatest hope was to find an Egyptian mummy in the
cave. But they didnít find one. Several possibilities come to mind as to
why no bones or mummy was found: there is always the distinct possibility
that the remains of the deceased have completely decayed away- the cave
was not airtight although it appears to have been sealed tightly enough to
keep out wild animals. It may be that evidence will be found of linen wrap
such as was used in mummification in the debris from the cave, as well as
decayed bones. Or, there is another possibility, which we will discuss in
the article- "The Ark and the Cave- Whatís the Connection?" There is a
great deal of dirt which still has to be sifted through, so the conclusion
on this subject is not yet known for sure. But I will state that we really
didnít expect to find the bones. Youíll understand why when you read the
Jewish Burials- Machpelah a "Prototype"?
We studied carefully everything the Bible tells us about
the burials of the followers of the true God. Abraham was the "father" so
to speak, of the Jewish nation and his tomb would be the prototype for
future Jewish burials. What we learned was that the Jews placed a great
deal of importance on preserving the actual bones in the burial. We know
of their later practices- how they buried all members of a family in one
area: as each person died, their body was interred in a family sepulchre.
When the rest of the body was completely decayed away, they placed the
bones in an ossuary, a box or chamber for the family bones. This way,
many, many generations could be buried in one family tomb.
Before we entered the cave, we wanted to understand what
should be in the burial cave of the first ancestors of the Israelites. But
as no specifics are given as to the burial of the patriarchs, we studied
burials in general- and this is what we learned:
1) Burial with ancestors was important if it was possible-
Genesis 47:30; Judges 16:31; 2 Samuel 2:32, 17:23, 19:37.
2) Being deprived of a proper burial is viewed as evidence
of divine punishment- Ecclesiastes 6:3; Deuteronomy 28:26; 1 Kings 13:22;
2 KJn.9:10; Jeremiah 7:33.
Then we learned that little of the ceremonies of the
burial was known except (these are from various time periods throughout
1) The eyes of the deceased were closed at death-
2) Spices were used in preparing the body- 2 Ch.16:14.
3) The deceased was carried to the grave in sight of the
people- 1 Kings 13:29,30; 2 Kings 23:30.
4) Monuments were erected over the burial site- 2 Kings
5) The deceased was placed directly in contact with the
bones of the previously buried inhabitants- 2 Kings 13:21.
We have provided only a few scriptures. If you wish to
study the subject further, look up the words "bones", "sepulchers", "bury
and buried", etc.
Heathen Burials Differ from Jewish
It is important to rule out the possibility of this being
a heathen burial because Hebron was inhabited by the heathens during the
time of Abraham. In fact, it was the inhabitants of Hebron that scared the
12 spies whom Moses sent out to scout the Promised Land. With such a
history of heathens in the area, a heathen burial must be ruled out. If
this cave was a heathen tomb, it would reflect their burial practices.
Almost everyone is familiar with the ancient practices of placing objects
in the tombs of the dead- this practice is based on their belief in the
after-life. The objects range from small trinkets, to jewelry, to real
food for the dead to presumably consume. In fact, it is through studying
the objects in ancient heathen tombs that archaeologists get most of their
information on ancient people and their customs. But there would be none
of this if this was a burial of a believer in God. In this case, what is
not present in the cave is as important as what is in it.
And again, our site passed the test. The large, broken bowl was all that
was found. It dates to the early Bronze Age- the time of Abraham. Itís
size and shape- very broad and very shallow- indicate that it may have
been used in preparing the spices for the burial or held water for washing
Many graves have been found in Hebron which contain a
great deal of funerary items that show them to have been heathen burials.
And the vast majority of these graves do still have the bones in
Summary of the Evidence
1) The cave is in the correct location- in Hebron, at the
edge of a plain atop a very high hill.
2) There are no artifacts in the cave except for the bowl
we discussed above.
3) There is a shelf-like niche carved into a wall of the
cave, which could have acted as a table on which to prepare the spices for
the burial (photo below). This shelf is 1.43 meters longs and .78 meters
wide. The area above the
"table-top" is also chiseled out which indicates
that it was used as some type of work area.
4) There are holes carved into the upper portion of the
walls of the cave which are angled downward- they are consistent with
holes made to hold torches (burning pine knots).
5) There are 3 crypts carved into the 3 sides of the cave
(the forth side is the entrance to the cave). These measure:
a) 3.5 meters long by 1.25 meters wide;
b) 3 meters long (one end is not cleaned so it appears to
be a bit longer) by 1.20 meters wide;
c) 3.75 meters long by 1.33 meters wide.
The size of each crypt can be seen to be relatively
uniform. The fact that there are just 3 and not 6 could indicate that the
wife of each patriarch was buried in the same crypt as her husband.
There was a doorway to the cave (photo left) as its outline can be seen
chiseled into the entrance. The rock sealing the doorway seems to be
missing, although it could be under the debris in the cave floor. However,
the outline which was chiseled for the door can still be easily seen, as
well as the matching holes on each side of the doorway, which would have
secured the door.
7) There is an ancient structure directly on top of the
cave. This structure, what is left of it, indicates that it was some type
of shrine. It has a sort of fenced enclosure on one side, just below the
terrace upon which the building sits, and this enclosed area surrounds the
entrance to the cave, just beneath the little building. There is also
remains of an object in the midst of the area which resembles an oblong
altar made of stones.
8) There is an entrance-way into the cave from inside of
this building, but as it lets out straight down into the cave, its purpose
cannot be exactly understood. It may be where the cave was fractured by an
earthquake, as many large stones are plugging this entrance.
9) Inside the cave, there is a wall section plugged with
rocks which appears to be an entrance into another chamber. There is a
strong tradition among the Jews that the cave of Machpelah was a "double
chambered" cave. When Ron threw down the rock on the site in 1979 and
heard the reverberation under his feet, it indicated a large chamber under
him. This area was adjacent to the building or monument which is erected
just over the chamber they entered, and thus indicates the presence of
another cave or chamber in the direct vicinity.
Many other Burials In the Area
The family which owns this land has built on most of the
land, or farmed it. As a result, they have dug on most of the surrounding
land directly adjacent to the cave. They showed Ron, Marty and Lloyd
numerous burials they had dug up in the course of cultivating their land.
These were very deep and when they found these graves, they placed the
bones in plastic bags and reburied them where they found them. One brother
told Ron they had found 51 burials directly around the cave- and he said
that they found nothing in the graves but bones. This is a strong
indication that the deceased were worshippers of God because of the lack
of funeral items. We found a reference in Josephus about the ancestors of
Jacob and Joseph which may actually give us some information on these
burials: "At length, his [Josephís] brethren died, after they had
lived happily in Egypt. Now the posterity and sons of these men, after
some time, carried their bones and buried them at Hebron;..."
Antiq. of the Jews, Book II, chapter VIII, para. 2.
Josephís "brethren", the sons of Israel, are here said to
have been buried at Hebron. If we remember that even Abraham wasnít living
here at the time of his death or Sarahís, we can know that the only land
in Hebron they could have been buried on was the land Abraham had
purchased- the field with the cave. We also know that Abraham had many
servants who would have wanted to be buried along with him and so perhaps
these are their burials. We can be sure that anyone who was of his
household would have been a believer in the true God, simply because
Abraham knew of Godís command to stay separated from the heathen.
The Cave should have Hewn Sepulchers
So, thus far, there is nothing that rules out the
possibility of this cave being the actual cave of Machpelah. There is also
one other statement from the scriptures which fits the cave. Joseph speaks
to the pharaoh and requests permission to bury Jacob in Canaan:
GENESIS 50:5 My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my
grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there
shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up,.., and bury my father, and
I will come again.
The Hebrew word for "grave" (qeber) and "digged" (karah)
are literal here- Joseph is saying that his father, Jacob literally dug
his own sepulchre. The 3 separate sepulchers are each hand-hewn, as the
chisel marks are still visible.
The Building above the Cave
When we read Josephus, we found another interesting
reference to the cave of Machpelah and that there was knowledge that a
shrine was erected there. In speaking of Isaacís burial, he tells of a
monument existing in Hebron which was erected by Isaacís "forefathers".
The only land the family owned there was the cave and the field. Since
Isaac was buried in the cave of Machpelah, Josephus may be telling us
about the very building above the cave: "Isaac also died
not long after the coming of his son, and was buried by his sons,
with his wife, In Hebron, where they had a monument belonging to them from
their forefathers." Antiq. of the Jews, Bk. II, chapter XXII,
para. 1. GENESIS 49:30 In the cave that is in the field of
Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which
Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a
burying place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife;
there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried
As we mentioned, there is an opening from the building
into the cave, which has been sealed by very ancient stones. There is
evidence that the cave was fractured by an earthquake at some unknown
point in time. There are other numerous places where rocks have been
inserted in the cracked areas to seal it back up, so we donít fully
understand the hole from inside the building into the cave yet.
There is what appears to be a type of altar within the
fenced-in area. Our studies of the Bible showed that Abraham built altars
wherever he went: GENESIS 12:6 And Abram passed through the
land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the
Canaanite was then in the land. 7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and
said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an
altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. 8 And he
removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his
tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded
an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.
GENESIS 13:3 And he went on his journeys from the south even to
Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between
Bethel and Hai: 4 Unto the place of the altar,
which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name
of the LORD. GENESIS 13:18 Then Abram removed his tent, and cattle and
dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar
unto the LORD. Thus far, it is consistent to have an altar
at a place that was sacred to Abraham, and it wouldnít be taking too much
liberty to expect that Abraham would certainly consider the final resting
place of his wife, himself and his descendants to be worthy of an altar to
the Lord. So here is one more evidence which points to this cave as the
true cave of Machpelah.
The "Traditional" Cave of Machpelah
The final observations we can offer in consideration of
this site as the true cave of Abrahamís burial is that the site that is
presently considered the cave of Machpelah is known to be incorrect. In
fact, we found no references to the cave which emphatically state it to be
authentic. In fact, most recognize the impossibility of the site as it
meets virtually none of the requirements, and it is from a much later
date. For example: "The only indisputable fact in all this is that the
cave at Hebron cannot possibly be the Biblical Cave of Machpelah; it is in
fact a man-made water-cistern, once carefully plastered to prevent the
water seeping into the rock." Archaeology of the Bible, by Magnus
Magnusson, p. 42.
It seems most likely that the true location of the cave
was lost sight of many, many years ago- possibly when the Jews were in
exile, or even earlier.
As far as we are concerned, the strongest evidence for
this being the cave of Machpelah to us is the manner in which the
whole thing came about. It was brought to Ronís attention 14 years ago
because of very strange events which were occurring on this familyís
property. Ron has not actively sought to work on the site- in fact, he has
been hoping to be able to finish all the overseas work soon- a new project
was not in our plans. But suddenly, things fell in place. With no more
"evidence" than that to go on, we proceeded, and found a cave which
certainly meets every qualification required to be the cave of Machpelah,
except that the "deceased" are not there. Weíll keep you posted on further
THE ARK AND THE CAVE- WHATíS THE
(The Cave is Empty- Where is Abraham?)
We were all very disappointed when we found that there
were no bones in the cave, nor was there the mummy of Jacob. But we had
already considered and discussed this possibility at length. In fact, we
had studied this a great deal even before we began work on the cave. Letís
go back to a verse we discussed earlier:
MATTHEW 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a
loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple
was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did
quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies
of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his
resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
We felt it was a distinct possibility that Abraham and
those buried in the cave were among those resurrected with Christ. The
site of the cave is certainly within walking distance of Jerusalem as it
is 19 or 20 miles away. No one could doubt that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
would certainly qualify as "saints". Could they have been commanded to
life when Christ arose? There is a verse in the Bible which may reflect
the fact that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are already in Heaven when
the righteous arrive with Christ: MATTHEW 8:11 And I say unto you,
That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down
with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
This verse almost sounds like they will be there waiting for the righteous
to arrive, similar to the verse about Christ sitting down with His Father,
who is waiting for Him: HEBREWS 1:3 .... when he had by himself purged
our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
Of course, the Jewish legends are completely silent on
events connected with Christ. The Bible is very clear on the fact
that the priests and rulers tried to cover up the true events of Christ
and His resurrection, so there would be no Jewish records of these
resurrected saints. And supposing Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were
among those resurrected, what happened to these risen saints? Did they go
back into their graves when Christ ascended to heaven? NO- they were taken
to Heaven: EPHESIANS 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended
up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
This verse clearly refers to an event which occurred
when Christ ascended- not when He died on the cross, nor did it occur
when Christ arose (which was when the saints came also out of their
graves). The event which is spoken of as occurring "when He ascended up on
high" was the physical fulfillment of His promise- the assurance of
eternal life for man was proven when He took back with Him to
heaven the saints who arose with their glorified bodies when He arose.
This had been foretold by Isaiah hundreds of years earlier: ISA 26:19
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall
they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is
as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
God the Father, in addition to resurrecting Christ,
provided extraordinary evidence that Christís Sacrifice was accepted! He
resurrected a group of saints as proof! The death of Christ, the great,
final Sacrifice, took place on that cross almost 2,000 years ago and until
He died, man was without hope: 1C0RINTHIANS 15:17 And if
Christ be not raised, your faith is vain: ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then
they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
Paul made it clear that if Christ had not arisen, we would
all be lost. Until then, Satan had legal claim over all those who lived on
this planet, as all had sinned. Remember how he contended over the body of
JUDE 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when
contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not
bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
Satan had legal right to the body of Moses at that time- notice, he isnít
told that he has no claim over Moses, but simply that the Lord is
over-ruling him in this case- "The Lord rebuke thee".
But, after Christ died, things changed- Satan no longer
could protest that all men were his legal captive. Christ had paid the
price. Between Christís death and His resurrection, something happened
which ratified the covenant- His Blood fell on the Mercy Seat. His Father
saw that the offering was perfect in every way and also that it was
presented to Him in a manner that was consistent with His requirements. It
was accepted! Christ was resurrected and a group of saints also came out
of their graves! And although we do not know who they were, it would seem
that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would certainly be worthy candidates- these
men through whom the promise was actually given- those who had
participated in the blood sacrifices in faith of the coming redeemer.
The absence of the bones is a very important evidence.
Both the heathens and the believers of God placed a tremendous importance
on the sacredness of a personís grave. They went to great lengths to
preserve all graves. It was simply taboo to disturb a grave among all
peoples and beliefs. This cave was not disturbed, as far as we can tell.
We cannot help but be of the thought that the discovery of
the cave is associated with the Ark because of the way the cave was
brought to Ronís attention while working on the Ark- the man who told Ron
about the cave is the man who entered the chamber where the Ark is back in
1982. The family wanted Ron to examine the area of the cave because of
supernatural occurrences that they had seen- the "fire" which left no
traces when they went to take a closer look. Strange events- yes, but we
do know that the cave meets the criteria to be the authentic site. We know
it contains the proper number of crypts. We know there is evidence that
the cave was cracked open by an earthquake. And we know that those crypts
To Abraham had been given the knowledge of the coming
Redeemer, Christ: JOHN 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my
day: and he saw it, and was glad. The only man called in the Bible,
"the Friend of God", Abraham was a special person in the history of Godís
people: JAMES 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith,
Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and
he was called the Friend of God.
And we will never know for sure if they were resurrected
until we get to Heaven. But the subject of the resurrected saints was
recorded in the Bible by Inspiration, so it is a subject worthy of our
study and understanding. God is drawing attention to great Truths which
have been overlooked for many years- subjects which focus on the mysteries
of eternal life and the complete accuracy of His Holy Word.
This planet is very quickly becoming unfit to live in. We
have the Word of Christ that those who love Him will be persecuted
and perhaps even killed for their faith: JOHN 15:20 Remember the word
that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If
they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;
But we can endure all things because we have the assurance
of eternal life through Him and with Him, as Paul so forcefully states:
ROMANS 8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all
the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that