February 11th 2015
Yes, Tel Aviv is a quintessentially Israeli city, but did you know that Tel Aviv is only about 100 years old? It was founded in 1909 as the first modern Hebrew city. On the other end of the spectrum, there are many locales in Israel whose history goes back to ancient times. Here are three Israeli cities that have thrived since the times of the Bible.
Hebron, today a largely Arab-populated city, lies south of Jerusalem. The Book of Genesis details the purchase of land in Hebron by the patriarch Abraham as a burial plot for his wife Sarah. Today, Hebron is best known for the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs (Ma’arat haMachpela), the site where four Biblical couples – Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob and Leah – are buried.
Later in Jewish history, King David reigned from Hebron before moving his capital to Jerusalem. Hebron is one of the four holiest cities in Israel, and there are numerous site of Jewish interest worth seeing in Hebron, especially those in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood.
The Capital of the Negev
Home to Ben Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center, Be’er Sheva is the 6th largest city in Israel. Rich with
Biblical history, this city is strongly associated with Abraham, with Isaac, with Elijah the prophet, with the sons of the prophet Samuel and with King Saul, Israel’s first monarch.
Today, highlights of a visit to Be’er Sheva include the Abraham’s Well Museum, the Israel Air Force Museum, the Be’er Sheva market and Ben–Gurion’s Tomb National Park in nearby Sde Boker.
Jerusalem, the magical Holy City and the State if Israel’s seat of government, has rich history deeply connected to the Bible. The Temple Mount, which sits upon Mount Moriah, is where the Binding of Isaac took place. It’s also where Jacob slept when he had his famous dream about a ladder that stretched all the way to heaven.
But Jerusalem really takes center stage centuries later, under the reign of King David, when the Judean king conquered the city from the Jebusites and made it his capital. The major attractions in Jerusalem with the strongest Biblical significance are, therefore, the Kotel and the Temple Mount, where the First and Second Holy Temples stood, and the City of David.
An Uninterrupted Continuum
Israel is where the Bible truly comes alive. While there are virtually countless points of interest in the Holy Land that hearken back to ancient times, many of the country’s most vibrant, contemporary urban locales have been populated straight through the millennia. Visiting these cities with this context in mind renders the experience all the more meaningful.