"The Earth Belongs to HaShem and the Fullness Thereof."
Adam's Burial place
A response by John of AllFaith, April 2007
Questioner: RobertSubject: Adam's Burial place
Where was Adam buried---There is a reference to Calvary and Noah and Shem meeting an Angel and being directed to Calvary (Golgotha)--I'm giving a LifeWay (Baptist ) Sunday School lesson this Sunday. Thanks
John of AllFaith's replyHi Robert,
Gen 5:5 says, "...And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died."
According to the Book of Jubilees (4:29-30), "And he (Adam) was the first who was buried in the earth. And he lacked seventy years from one thousand years, for a thousand years are like one day in the testimony of heaven and therefore it was written concerning the tree of knowledge, 'In the day you eat from it you will die.' Therefore he did not complete the years of this day because he died in it"
Beyond this, the accepted scriptures are mute.
There are traditional legends that say that as Noah was preparing for the flood he recovered the body of Adam, brought it in the ark, and then later buried it in a cave at Golgatha. According to this tradition, Jesus was buried in this same cave. This of course violates the biblical statement that Jesus was placed in a tomb never before occupied.
There are also applicable Jewish traditions. The following is taken from http://www.kcholmim.org/hazon9.php and may be of interest: The Torah opens with the story of the human "family" - the descendants of Adam and Eve. It then proceeds to tell the story of the family of Israel - the descendants of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob, Rachel and Leah. Jacob was also given the name "Israel" (Genesis 35:10).
In the Torah portion of this past Shabbos, "Chayei Sarah" - the Life of Sarah, we find the story of the passing and burial of our matriarch, Sarah. After the eulogy for Sarah, Abraham purchased a plot in the city of Hebron which contained a cave known as "the Cave of Machpelah" (Genesis 23:9). The Torah records that Sarah was buried there; moreover, the Torah later records that Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah were buried there (Genesis 25:9, 49:29-32, 50:13). Our matriarch, Rachel, however, was buried outside of Bethlehem (Genesis 35:18).
Throughout the generations, Jews would pray at the Cave of Machpelah, where their forefathers and foremothers are buried, and during the years of exile, they managed to reestablish a community in Hebron centuries before the emergence of the State of Israel. This ancient Jewish community was destroyed during the Arab riots of 1929, when Hebron's Arabs stormed into the old Jewish quarter and massacred many Jews. The survivors were forced to flee, and Jews did not succeed in reestablishing a community in Hebron until a few years after the Six-Day war.
The Cave of Machpelah is a source of conflict between Arabs and Jews; but ideally, it should serve as a reminder that the two "families" are related. For Abraham is buried in this cave, and both Arabs and Jews have a tradition that the Arabs are the descendants of Abraham's first son, Ishmael. At the suggestion of Sarah, who was unable to give birth for a long period, Abraham married Sarah's handmaiden, Hagar, and through this union, Ishmael was born. One of the sources for the tradition that the Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael is a passage in the Book of Isaiah (21: 13-17), where the Prophet refers to the people of Arabia as "the sons of Kedar." The Torah records that Kedar is the second son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:13). Abraham is therefore the father of both the Jewish and Arab peoples.
The Cave of Machpelah not only reminds us that Jews and Arabs have a common ancestor; it also reminds us of the common origin of all humanity, for the Talmud records the ancient tradition that Adam and Eve are also buried in this cave (Eruvin 53a). According to the Midrash, Abraham was aware that Adam and Eve were buried here, and he therefore wanted to acquire this site for his and Sarah's descendants (Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 36). Why was the acquisition of this particular cave so important to Abraham? I would like to suggest the following three reasons:
1. When Abraham received the Divine call to journey to the Promised Land, he was given the following Divine promise, one which was later repeated to Isaac and Jacob: "through you, all the families of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). Abraham therefore understood that the family that would emerge from him and Sarah would have a special responsibility regarding all the families of the earth; thus, he wanted his descendants to be reminded of this universal mandate when they would come and pray at the site where their ancestors are buried. For at this site, Adam and Eve, the ancestors of all the earth's families, are also buried.
2. As we began to discuss in the Hazon series on the human soul, Abraham and Sarah began the process of helping humankind return to the original high spiritual consciousness that Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden before the sin. Abraham therefore hoped that the cave where Adam and Eve are buried would remind his descendants of this spiritual goal.
3. When Abraham and Sarah taught people about the One Compassionate Creator of all life, they caused human beings to rediscover their unity as the children of the Compassionate One. In addition, they reminded human beings that they are part of one extended family, since they all descend from Adam and Eve. When Abraham acquired the Cave of Machpelah, he realized that this site could serve as a reminder of this unity, for the ancestors of all humanity are buried here.
The Compassionate One is waiting for all the families of the earth to rediscover their unity. The Cave of Machpelah is to serve as a reminder of this universal vision, yet the growing violence in the world indicates that this vision seems to "sleep" alongside our patriarchs and matriarchs who are buried deep inside the cave. There is, however, a Divine promise that one day this vision will emerge from the darkness of the cave and spread all over God's earth:
"They shall neither injure nor destroy in all My sacred mountain; for the earth will be filled with knowledge of the Compassionate One as water covering the sea bed." (Isaiah 11:9)
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen
Really though, no one can say with any certainty and the Bible is mute on this.
Hope this helps,
~John of AllFaith
Of Noah All
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