"And Jacob arrived safely [in] the city of Shechem ... and he bought the part of the field where he had pitched his tent from the sons of Hamor.GENESIS (33:18-19)"1
"The city of Shechem, located in Samaria, is mentioned 60 times in the Bible, and is one of three locations in the Land where an actual land purchase is recorded in the Bible. The other two are Abraham's purchase of the cave in Hebron (Gen. 23:8-17) and King David's purchase of the Temple Mount (II Samuel 24:24). And why are these three areas the most contested in the world today?"1
The Five Books of Moses of which Genesis is the first has verified that our ancestors bought land from the people who lived there first, making it quite legal. Shechem, today called Nablus, only 30 miles north of Jerusalem, has been taken over by the Palestinian Arabs. It had been an ancient Canaanite town. It had been in the territory Jordan had taken in 1948 and kept by them until they lost the 1967 war with Israel. Nablus as of 2007 had a population of 426,132. Since 1995, the city has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority. It's a center of protests, and is not safe for tourists then.
It had been under Egyptian control as early as the period of the 12th dynasty. It's earliest walls date from about 2,000 BCE. This is going WAY back since Moses lived from 1391 to 1271 BCE. Our biblical patriarch of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob camped under its walls. It was pillaged by 2 of the 12 tribes of Jacob; Simeon and Levi as told in Gen.34.
Jacob had just arrived at Shechem from Paddan-aram (which is in northern Mesopotamia) , and had camped before the city. He bought the land from Hamor for 100 kesitahs. (Subsequently, the kesitah was probably a piece of money of a particular weight, cast in the form of a lamb (or unminted of a certain weight, the price of a lamb). Monuments in Egypt show that such weights were used as a form of currency). Then he set up and altar and proclaimed, G-d, the G-d of Israel. At this point he hasn't been given the name of Israel as yet, so Israel was also the name of his band of people.
Shechem had 44,000 people in 1967 and had a tiny Samaritan community but is mostly inhabited by Muslims today. It has for decades been the center of fanatical Arab nationalism. A small Jewish community used to live there. Joseph, Jacob's 11th and favorite son by Rachel, is buried here. Abimelech, the illegitimate son of Gideon, tried to establish a monarchy at Shechem in about the 12th century BCE. He killed his 70 brothers except Jotham, Gideon's youngest son, and ruled for 3 years in Shechem with the support of the chiefs of that city, and was killed in the ensuing revolt. (Judg. 9). Jotham had stood on Mt. Gerizim and uttered a parable rebuking the people of Shechem for electing Abimelech king.
Jacob was shocked and angry. He told his sons that now they had made Jacob odious among the natives of the land, the Canaanites and Perizzites. He was now in mortal danger being they were many and he and his band were few. They replied that they couldn't let them treat their sister like a harlot (prostitute) and just rape and kidnap her. She was one special girl with 12 brothers to protect her.
|Esau and Jacob, twins of Isaac|
Jacob continued to use the name of Jacob for matters that were physical and the mundane. He used Israel for matters of the spiritual concerning himself and his descendants.
Abraham's wife, Sarah, who was also his niece, died at age 127 in Kiriath-arba in Hebron in Canaan. Abraham went to the people of Heth telling them that he is an alien but lives among them and asked if he could buy land to bury his wife. He wished to have the Cave of Machpelah that belonged to Ephron, son of Zohar and lay on the edge of his field. He said he would pay the full price. Ephron was among the people of Heth and said he would give it to him. They argued about giving and paying and Ephron said it was worth 400 silver shekels. Abraham paid it. Abraham had bought the field, which was in Machpelah, facing Mamre, the field and the cave within it and all the trees in the field, within all its surrounding boundaries was confikred as Abraham's as a purchase in the view of the people of Heth, among all who came to the gate of his city. He then buried Sarah in this burial site.
As it turns out, Ephron's public generosity was a sham. He had no intention of making a gift of the cave. He hypocritically implied to Abraham that he expected an outrageously high price.
A saying from the sages about this haggling is that: THE RIGHTEOUS SAY LITTLE BUT DO MUCH, BUT THE WICKED PROMISE MUCH AND PERFORM NOT EVEN A LITTLE. THEY WOULD OFFER TO ANOINT WITH OIL FROM AN EMPTY FLASK.
Today, Hebron (al-Khalil) is the governate of many cities in Area A,B, and in C with the total population of about 563,146 mostly Muslims.
King David was feeling very guilty for the sins he had committed and an angel of death was there destroying with a pestilence in Israel with many people dying, a known 70,000 men, and David begged that the sheep not die because of him. Gad, a seer of David, told him to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. (The Jebusites lived in the hill region around Jerusalem which they called Jebus. Joshua had defeated them, but Jerusalem was occupied only in the reign of David (II Sam. 5:6-7) The last Jebusite king was Araunah. They remained in the city under David and became tributary under Solomon. In the course of time, they appear to have been assimilated.) King Araunah saw the king and his servants coming to him, and Araunah went out and put his face to the ground in supplication and fear. David told him he wanted buy his threshing floor in order to build an altar to G-d so that the pestilence would end. Araunah told David to take it and offer whatever is proper in his eyes. The cattle are available for elevation-offerings, and the threshing tools and the implements of the cattle are available for firewood. King Araunah gave all of it to king David, and Araunah said to David, "May your G-d accept your offerings. But King David told King Araunah that he wanted to buy it from him for a price and he wasn't about to offer his G-d free offerings. So David bought the threshing floor and the cattle for money--50 shekels. David built an altar there to G-d, and he offered elevation-offerings and peace- offerings. The pestilence then left Israel.
This turns out to be today's Temple Mount.
It's where King David's son, King Solomon, built the first Temple which was a shrine for the Ark, the sacred vessels, and offerings, with a court for worshippers. It was a hall, shrine and inner sanctum (the holy of holies.) It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE and rebuilt from 538 to 515 BCE and called the 2nd Temple. It was destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans who afterwards built a Roman temple on the site.
Since about 1193 CE, a mosque has stood there which is the Mosque of Omar. The Mosque of Omar was built in its current shape by the Ayyubid SultanAl-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din in 1193 in memory of this event. It has a 15 metres (49 ft) high minaret that was built before 1465 and was renovated by Ottoman sultan Abdulmecid I (1839–1860).
Also called the Dome of the Rock, it is built in the center of the Temple area (al-Harim ash-Sherif) in Jerusalem and another source said it was built by Caliph Abd al-Malik in about 738 to replace the temporary structure set up by Caliph Omar a century earlier (638. Mohammad died in 632.) It is situated on the traditional site of Mt. Moriah.
Omar was the 2nd caliph who ruled from 634 to 644. During his reign, several regions with ancient Jewish communities were conquered; Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia. On his orders, Jews were expelled from Northern Arabia. Omar is said to have made the covenant with Jews and Christians which assured them protection in return for the payment of a special poll-tax, but also put certain restrictions and disabilities on them like prohibition against erecting new houses of worship, had to wear distinctive clothing to let people know who they were, couldn't run for public office, etc.
These 3 places were bought and paid for, not just part of the property taken by Joshua at the time of the Exodus and when they entered Canaan and had to fight for it. They were legitimate purchases done on purpose so as to show that legally, this land belonged to the buyers, Abraham, Jacob and King David, the Jewish patriarchs.
Today, King David's purchase is the Temple Mount which is in Jerusalem but is governed by Jordan, a deal made by Moshe Dayan from the 1967 war. Jews are not allowed near the mosque and cannot even be seen to move their lips in prayer because of the 1st and 2nd Temples that had stood there in the past. Politics are now in motion to allow Jews there as well. It's a site of much contention, and one rabbi was almost killed for trying to promote allowing Jews there. So far, Jews must be satisfied with the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) as a place of prayer.
1 Resource: Israel 365 picture and Biblical line.
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
The Tanakh, the Stone Edition
update: 3/12/15 on Mosque of Omar from NSJ Encyclopedia