Machpelah (măkpēˈlə) [key], cave, near Hebron; also called the Cave of the Patriarchs. The Book of Genesis relates that it was bought by Abraham from Ephron, son of Zohar the Hittite, for a family burial place. The Mosque of Ibrahim, which now encloses the site, may be a successor to a structure built by the Herods. The mosque was the site of the murder of Muslim worshipers by an extremist Jewish settler in 1994.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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