Josephs Tomb

Joseph's Tomb

(Kabr Yusef) is briefly described in the Memoirs accompanying the Ordnance Survey (2:194), and more popularly in Lieut. Conder's Tent Work (2:74) as follows:

"About six hundred yards north of the well [of Jacob] is the traditional tomb of Joseph, venerated by the members of every religious community in Palestine. The building stands east of the road from Balata to 'Askar, at the end of a row of fine fig-trees. The enclosure is square and roofless, the walls whitewashed and in good repair, for, as an inscription on the south wall, in English, informs the visitor, it was rebuilt by consul Rogers, the friend of the Samaritans, in 1868; it is about twenty-five feet square, and on the north is another building of equal size, but older and partly ruinous, surmounted by a little dome. The tomb itself resembles most of the Moslem cenotaphs a long block, with an arched or vaulted roof having a pointed cross section. It is rudely plastered, and some seven feet long and three feet high. It is placed askew, and nearest to the west wall of the court. A stone bench is built into the east wall, on which three Jews were seated at the time of our second visit, book in hand, swinging backwards and forwards as they crooned out a nasal chant — a prayer, no doubt, appropriate to the place.

"The most curious point to notice is, however, the existence of two short pillars, one at the bead, and the other at the foot of the tomb, having shallow cup-shaped hollows at their tops. These hollows are blackened by fire, for the Jews have the custom of burning sacrifices on them, small articles, such as handkerchiefs, gold lace, or shawls, being consumed. Whether this practice is also observed by the Samaritans is doubtful.

"The tomb points approximately north and south, thus being at right angles to the direction of Moslem tombs north of Mecca. How the Mohammedans explain this disregard of orientation in so respected a prophet as 'our Lord Joseph,' I have never heard; perhaps the rule is held to be only established since the time of Mohammed. The veneration in which the shrine is held by the Moslem peasantry is, at all events, not diminished by this fact."

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