Christian reading

Issue N34

answers for a jew, valeriy sterkh

Answers for a Jew

Who is buried in Nablus and Hebron?

Question: Why does the New Testament mention Nablus (Shechem) as the burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, when it is common knowledge that they were buried in Hebron?

Answer: The New Testament doesn't say that. This question is based on a fragment of Stephen's speech in the Book of Acts: «So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem» (Act 7:15-16).

Stephen's words can be interpreted to mean that some Jewish patriarchs were buried in Shechem, which is also confirmed in the Old Testament.

The Book of Joshua says: «And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph» (Josh 24:32; compare Gen 33:18-19).

The Jewish tradition also states that the bones of Joseph's brothers were not left in Egypt, but were buried together with Joseph's remains in Shechem. It is this tradition that Stephen must have referred to.

The mention of Abraham in this context must function as an explanation for why the field with the tomb belongs to the family of Abraham – because Jacob was a descendant of Abraham.

As to Abraham himself, he is buried in Hebron (see Gen 25; compare Gen 23), where Isaac (see Gen 49) and Jacob-Israel (see Gen 50) were also buried. The New Testament doesn't contradict that.

(to be continued)