“The Jews are the most tenacious people in history. Hebron is there to prove it. It lies 20 miles south of Jerusalem, 3,000 feet up in the Judaean hills. There, in the Cave of Machpelah, are the Tombs of the Patriarchs. According to ancient tradition, one sepulchre, itself of great antiquity, contains the mortal remains of Abraham, founder of the Jewish religion and ancestor of the Jewish race. Paired with his tomb is that of his wife Sarah. Within the building are the twin tombs of his son Isaac and his wife Rebecca. Across the inner courtyard is another pair of tombs. of Abraham’s grandson Jacob and his wife Leah. Just outside the building is the tomb of their son Joseph. This is where the 4,000-year history of the Jews, in so far as it can be anchored in time and place, began…

Hebron is thus an example of Jewish obstinacy over 4,000 years. It also illustrates the curious ambivalence of the Jews towards the possession and occupation of land. No race has maintained over so long a period so emotional an attachment to a particular corner of the earth’s surface. But none has shown so strong and persistent an instinct to migrate, such courage and skill in pulling up and replanting its roots. It is a curious fact that, for more than three-quarters of their existence as a race, a majority of Jews have always lived outside the land they call their own. They do so today.”

Paul Johnson
A History of the Jews
1988

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