And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,…
Around the grotto which thus became the sepulchre of Abraham's family, and which afterwards was to receive, not only his own dust, but that of his son and grandson with their wives, there has grown up an interest as enduring, and an obscurity as deep as attach to any grave on earth save one. The piety of some unknown age, probably Jewish, erected round the spot massive walls of noble masonry, which still exist. Inside these walls the devotion of early Christians consecrated a church, and over the church the devotion of the Mussulman a mosque. The gates of that mosque, the famous Haram of Hebron, had been closed against Western unbelievers for six centuries, when with extreme difficulty access to it was procured for the Prince of Wales and his suite in the year 1862. What they saw inside an enclosure so jealously guarded has been told with his accustomed precision of statement by Dean Stanley. Railed off, each one within its separate chapel, there lie the coffin-like shrines to which are attached the venerable names of Sarah and Abraham, of Isaac and Rebecca, of Leah and Jacob. These, however, are only empty monuments. The real tombs, if they exist at all, must be sought beneath the floor of the building, in the rocky cavern underground. To this vault a trap-door in the pavement promises to give access; but as yet its darkness remains unvisited and unviolated. So far as could be ascertained through such a brief and partial inspection of the mosque, it is clear that the contents of that sacred place answer exactly to the requirements of the scriptural narrative. Unfortunately, more than this cannot be said. It is reserved for some explorer more fortunate than even the Prince of Wales to disclose the well-kept secret of the tomb of the patriarchs.
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,