UNESCO, HERE WE GO AGAIN. . .
BY CHARLES E. MCCRACKEN
Here we go again! UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) supposedly committed to, “Building peace in the minds of men and women” is set to make another absurd and polarizing declaration regarding Israel’s historic homeland.
On July 2, the world body is scheduled to vote on making the Old City of Hebron—including the Cave of the Patriarchs—a Palestinian World Heritage site. Contrary to historical evidence and obvious cultural ties, the international body previously misappropriated the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as well as the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem with the same skewed designation.
There appears to be a method behind UNESCO’s consistent and blatantly anti-Israel madness.
The insidious Palestinian influenced U.N. strategy seeks to delegitimize Israel’s right to their ancient homeland by creating a series of quasi precedents that obfuscate verifiable history.
Contrary to the determination of UNESCO, Hebron has a long rich Jewish history as the site of the world’s oldest Jewish community. Joshua allotted Hebron to Caleb after the Canaanite conquest and it was the city where David was crowned king of Israel (Josh. 14:13; 2 Sam. 2:4, 5:3).
Despite periods of intense persecution over the past two millennia, Hebron maintained a continual Jewish presence until 1929 when Arab pogroms resulted in a massacre that forced the evacuation of the Jewish population under the British Mandate. After the Six-day War, the Jewish community was immediately reestablished.
Since ancient times, Hebron’s history has been inseparably linked with the Cave of Machpelah. Purchased by Abraham, it is the revered burial place for Israel’s patriarchs.
GENESIS 23:16-20 (emphasis added)
“And Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out the silver for Ephron which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, currency of the merchants.
So the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, which were within all the surrounding borders, were deeded to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city.
And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave that is in it were deeded to Abraham by the sons of Heth as property for a burial place.”
The text centers on Abraham purchasing a piece of property where not just Sarah, but successive generations would have a proper burial. After giving birth to Isaac, Sarah lived another 37 years to 127 years of age at the time of her death in Hebron. Although God had promised the whole land of Canaan to Abraham, he owned no real estate.
The family tomb was of great consequence in ancient Mid-eastern culture. It was both monument and memorial honoring the deceased. Interment in a designated familial burial site implied a connection to ancestry.
Abraham’s determination to purchase land in Canaan rather than returning to Haran to bury Sarah is significant. His choice demonstrated commitment to living in the land God had promised.
Purchasing a piece of property in the Promised Land was an act of faith that God had given the land to Abraham’s descendants. Abraham went to the gate of the ancient city of Hebron to engage in a legal transaction with a Hittite named Ephron who lived among the sons of Heth.
Abraham’s relationship with his neighbors was such that when he explained his need to secure land to inter his wife, they universally offered their choicest burial plots.
Although the gesture was meant to honor Abraham, he kindly declined and spoke directly with Ephron who again proposed the land as a gift. Sounding like beneficence, Ephron’s proposal which actually conformed to local custom included more land than Abraham originally wanted to buy. Ephron proposed,
“My lord, listen to me; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver. What is that between you and me? So bury your dead” (v. 15).
Abraham respectfully declined.
Purchasing the Plot
Demonstrating both humility and gratitude, Abraham graciously articulated his desire to ensure a burial site for future generations and requested a formal business transaction giving him undisputed title to the land.
Ephron agreed to Abraham’s request.
Without further negotiation, Abraham purchased both the field and the Cave of Machpelah at the proposed price. He counted 400 shekels of silver in the sight of the sons of Heth who witnessed and documented the transaction of Abraham’s legal and permanent purchase of the land. The account concludes,
“So the field and the cave that is in it were deeded to Abraham by the sons of Heth as property for a burial place” (v. 20).
Securing the Future
Abraham’s purchase of the Cave of Machpelah and the accompanying field was an investment in God’s promises and their ultimate fulfillment. Significantly, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—all Jewish patriarchs—along with wives Sarah, Rebekah and Leah are buried in Machpelah.
Today, the location is known as the Cave of the Patriarchs, the second holiest site of the Jewish people. Based on Abraham’s documented purchase of the property as a burial place for his covenantal descendants, there is no question as to Jewish cultural ties to the property.
The real estate transaction between Abraham and Ephron was recorded some 3,700 years before any Arabs began calling themselves Palestinians.
UNESCO’s skewed designation of Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage site denigrates recorded Jewish history and ancient cultural ties. People of faith must denounce anti-Israel agencies within the U.N. for failing to accurately designate sites in Israel as “Jewish Heritage” sites with historic precedent. (1)
Those living in the U.S. can contact congressional leaders to support legislation prohibiting U.S. funding of U.N. agencies that promote an anti-Israel agenda. (2) Advocate for Israel by using historical precedent to provide the perspective about Israel to those in your sphere of influence.
1) For a fascinating tour of an area that is generally inaccessible to the average tourist, take a few minutes to watch Yishai Fleisher’s insider look at Hebron and the irrefutable connection to Abraham. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.
2)Senate Bill: S.107 (Safeguard Israel Act of 2017); House Bills: H.R. 373 (Refusing to Assist Paying for United Nations Against Israel Act), H.R. 2232 (Promoting Equality and Accountability at the United Nations Act of 2017), H.R. 769 (Safeguard Israel Act of 2017).
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. With 40 plus years of ministry experience, Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1) The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Dr. Avishai Teicher Pikiwiki Israel [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) The Seventh Step Garden in Hebron. By Dr. Avishai Teicher Pikiwiki Israel [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
3) Memorial Marker at The Seventh Step Garden in Hebron. By Dr. Avishai Teicher Pikiwiki Israel [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
4) Exit steps from the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Hebron. By אני (אני) [GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
5) Ancient Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs Signage. By Daniel from Israel (Hevron Ma’arat HaMachpela) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios