Biblical Archaeology Review 11:3, May/June 1985

Was the Site of the Jerusalem Temple Originally a Cemetery?

By Rivka Gonen

Stylistic and architectural similarities between the cave of Machpelah enclosure at Hebron and the Temple Mount enclosure in Jerusalem have been clearly demonstrated by Nancy Miller in “Patriarchal Burial Site Explored for First Time in 700 Years.”

I would like to suggest another similarity between the two sites at Hebron and Jerusalem. Originally, in the Middle Bronze Age, both were cemeteries. Does it seem strange that a temple—the dwelling place of God on earth—should be built in the midst of a cemetery? Let us look at the evidence.

Before turning to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, however, let us first review the situation in Hebron at the cave of Machpelah.

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