Vincent and Mackay

A flat-roofed booth with open sides stands against the southeastern enclosure wall of the Machpelah. Under this canopy-shaped structure (see close-up) is a hole, identified as entrance “B” on the plan. On the other side of the wall was the seventh step that rewarded non Moslem pilgrims to the shrine with a glimpse into the cave. This opening, one of the two presently known entrances to the cave of Machpelah, instigated the Frankish explorations. When Arnoul, a 12th-century Augustine monk, saw a gust of wind blowing through this crack, he decided to investigate the area beneath the flagstones. With the help of his enthusiastic fellow monks, Arnoul was lowered down the shaft by a rope. He spent several days exploring the corridors, rooms and grottoes below ground. Among his finds were 15 jars containing bones that he identified as belonging to the 12 sons of Jacob.