Vincent and Mackay

The cave of Machpelah. Enclosed by the rectangular Herodian walls, the cave in this early 20th-century drawing demonstrates the traditional understanding that the burial cave of the patriarchs is a single, continuous, large underground space. The author disagrees; she suggests that Machpelah was originally a Middle Bronze I (2200–2000 B.C.) cemetery containing a number of small, unconnected burial caves, each entered through a vertical shaft.