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Israel’s Seven Holy Cities Print E-mail
Written by Victoria Radin   

“Israel’s seven holy cities – Beersheba, Hebron and Bethlehem in the south, Bethel, Shechem and Safed in the north and Jerusalem in the center – form a menorah that together emanate God’s light to the rest of the world. When Israel regains control of all of Israel’s seven cities and Torah can flow freely from within them, the ultimate redemption will come,” said Rabbi Yishai Fleisher.

 

7 Holy Cities of Israel2

Momentous events took place in each of these cities that forever affected the people and Nation of Israel. 

1) Beersheba (the place of oaths and visions)

Although Abraham named the place of Beersheba after entering into an oath with the Philistine, Abimelech, he called on the Lord in that place and dwelt there many days.

"Therefore [Abraham] called that place Beersheba (well of the oath), because the two of them swore an oath there. Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba. Then Abraham … called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. So Abraham … dwelt at Beersheba." (Genesis 21:33-34 & 22:19)

Jacob (Israel) offered sacrifices to God and received visions in the night in Beersheba where he was dwelling. It was there that God spoke to him and reassured him that he would be protected in Egypt and he would see his son, Joseph once again.

“So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.” So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.” (Genesis 46:1-4)

2) Hebron  (the place of promise and burial place of the patriarchs)

“Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.” (Genesis 13:18)

In Hebron, the Lord appeared to Abraham with two angels to announce that Sarah would have a son. 

“Then the Lord appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre,… And He said, ‘I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.’” (Genesis 18:1, 10)

The Lord also told Abraham that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed at that time.

“And the Lord said, ‘Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.’” (Genesis 18:20-21)

Although Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, destruction followed. And, just as the Lord spoke, the following year, Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Years later, Hebron was the place where Sarah died at the age of one hundred twenty-seven years. Abram purchased a burial cave for his wife, which became the burial place of all the patriarchs.

“So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron….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.” (Genesis 23:2, 19-20)

3) Bethlehem (the birthplace of King David and the Messiah)

On Jacob’s return from having lived many years in Haran with his uncle, Laban, his beloved wife Rachel died during childbirth and he buried her in Bethlehem.

“But as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died beside me in the land of Canaan…and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).” (Genesis 48:7)

But of greater significance, Bethlehem became the birthplace of David, the forerunner of the Messiah. The story of Ruth and Naomi records the birth of King David to Boaz and Ruth the Moabitess.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)

“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife… and she bore a son…And they called his name Obed. And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.” (Ruth 4:13-17; 21-22)

Bethlehem became the place where the sacrificial lambs were bred for the Passover festival and was the place of Yeshua's birth as prophesied.

4) Jerusalem (Mt. Moriah, the Temple Mount)

Araunah was a Jebusite who was mentioned in the Second Book of Samuel. He owned the threshing floor on the summit of Mount Moriah that David purchased and used as the site for assembling an altar to God.

“And Gad came that day to David and said to him, ‘Go up, erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.’ So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded …Then Araunah said, ‘Why has my lord the king come to his servant?’ And David said, ‘To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the Lord….” (2 Samuel 24:18, 19, 21)

The Temple Mount, Mt. Moriah, was the site David’s altar, Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple built by the Israelites returning from Babylonian exile that was later enhanced by Herod. It will also be the site of the Third Temple that will be built before the return of the Messiah.

5) Bethel (Abraham’s second stop in the land of Canaan and ‘the house of God and gate of heaven’)

“And [Abram] moved from [Shechem] to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 12:8)

God renews Abraham’s covenant with Jacob in Bethel and calls Himself the God of Bethel

“Now Jacob … came to a certain place and stayed there all night….Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: ‘I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; … and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you. Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’ And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” (Genesis 28:10-17)

“I am the God of Bethel, where you [Jacob] anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me.’” (Genesis 31:13 referring to Genesis 28:16-22)

Jacob’s Vow to God at Bethel

 “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.’” (Genesis 28:20-22)

6) Shechem (the first altar in the Promised Land)

“Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem.…Then the L-rd appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ And there he built an altar to the L-rd, who had appeared to him.” (Genesis 12:6-7)

When Abram (Abraham) left the land of Ur, G-d led him to Shechem in Canaan where the L-rd first appeared to him. Shechem (today called Nablus) is located in a narrow valley between Mount Gerizim to the south and Mount Ebal to the north. It is remembered as the place where Abram demonstrated his love and commitment to G-d by building the first altar to the L-rd in Canaan. And, it is the place where G-d made an unconditional covenant with Abram for the land that would eventually become known as the Land of Israel. 

It is also the place where Joshua, when he was old and ready to die, renewed Israel’s commitment to G-d.

“So Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the L-rd for yourselves, to serve Him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses!’ ‘Now therefore,’ he said, ‘put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the L-rd G-d of Israel.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘The L-rd our G-d we will serve, and His voice we will obey!’ So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.” (Joshua 24:22-25)

In what proved to be a prophetic pronouncement, the patriarch Joseph, who died in Egypt, made the Israelites promise to bury his bones in the Promised Land (Genesis 50:25) in a plot of ground at Shechem. “The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor …which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph.” (Joshua 24:32)

7) Safed (Tzfat, the mystical city)

Safed is the highest city in the Galilee and in Israel. It has always been an important city for the Jewish people and is considered the most mystical city in all of Israel. It is also known throughout the world as the city of Kabbalah and the center of Jewish mysticism.

Legend has it that a son of Noah founded Safed after the Great Flood. According to the Book of Judges (1:17), the area where Safed is located was assigned to the Tribe of Naphtali. It has been suggested that Jesus’ assertion that “a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” may have referred to Safed.

It is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud as one of five elevated spots where fires were lit to announce the New Moon and festivals during the Second Temple period. 

So what has happened to these holy cities today:

Beersheba is the 7th largest city in Israel, is often referred to as the “Capital of the Negev”. Today, Beersheba is an industrial city, home to thriving companies and universities that form much of the backbone of the Israeli economy.

Hebron is a Muslim city today, but the Jewish settlers have their own governing municipal body, the Committee of the Jewish Community of Hebron.

Bethlehem today is a Muslim city.

Bethel today known as Beitin has been identified as the biblical Bethel. It is under joint Israeli-Palestinian administration.

Shechem is today called Nablus and is one of the largest Palestinian cities in Israel.

Safed (Tzfat) is one of Israel’s holiest cities, second only to Jerusalem. Today, Safed is a tourist hotspot and modern-day resort.

Jerusalem is under Israeli control, but faces constant challenges to its rule there.

In order to see the fulfillment of the prophetic word of Rabbi Yishai Fleisher to see the Redemption of Israel, we must pray that the cities that are held in Muslim hands be liberated. The outside candles and the center candle of the Menorah, Beersheba, Safed and Jerusalem are currently under Israeli rule. The others are either Arab/Muslim cities or are jointly administered with Israel. Pray for Hebron, Bethlehem, Bethel, and Shechem. And always, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

 

Map of Israel2

 

 
 
 
 
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