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When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, about 700 years after Abraham, the men he sent to spy out the land of Canaan returned from the Hebron area with a cluster of grapes so heavy that two men carried it on a pole between them — an image that is now the logo of the Israel Ministry of Tourism.Later, King David ruled Judah from Hebron for seven and a half years before moving his capital to Jerusalem.Next to the pulpit, a stone canopy covers the sealed entrance to steps descending to the burial Cave of Machpelah.Directly across the room, another canopy stands over a decorative grate covering a narrow shaft to the cave. Minbar (pulpit) in Great Mosque in Tombs of the Patriarchs (Seetheholyland.net)" data-medium-file="https://i0com/ fit=600,800" class="attachment-thumbnail wp-image-4581 size-medium" src="https://i0com/ resize=225,300" alt="Tombs of the Patriarchs" width="225" height="300" srcset="https://i0com/ w=600 600w" sizes="(max-width: 225px) 100vw, 225px" data-recalc-dims="1" / Entry to the Jewish area is via an external square building on the southwestern wall.
The ruins of a Byzantine church built inside the wall around 570 were converted by Muslims into a mosque in the 7th century, rebuilt as a church by the Crusaders in the 12th century, then reconverted into a mosque by the sultan Saladin later in the same century. Inside, six cenotaphs covered with decorated tapestries represent the tombs of the patriarchs.Beside it on the right is an exquisitely carved minbar (pulpit) of walnut wood.It was made (without nails) in 1091 for a mosque in Ashkelon and brought to Hebron a century later by Saladin after he burned that city.Inside, amid a confusing mix of minarets, domes, arches, columns and corridors of various styles and periods, the complex is divided into three main sections, each with the cenotaphs of a patriarch and his wife.The main entrance, to the Muslim area, is up a long flight of steps beside the northwest Herodian wall, then east through the Djaouliyeh mosque (added outside the wall in the 14th century) and right to enter the enclosure.