(See also wiki article Hebron
HEBRON A very ancient city in Palestine, 20 miles SSW. from Jerusalem. It is in a basin on one of the highest points of the Judaean ridge, being about 3040 feet above sea-level. A note of its antiquity is given in Nu.13.22, which states that it was 'seven years older than Zoan in Egypt.' Zoan is probably to be identified with Avaris and later Rameses; its founding may be dated by the so-called 400 year stele of Rameses II. to the late 18th cent. BC. Hebron's original name seems to have been Kiriath-arba (i.e. probably Tetrapolis, or 'Four Cities'), and it was a stronghold of the Anakim. In the time of Abraham, however (whose history is much bound up with this place), we read of Hittites here. From Ephron the Hittite he purchased the cave of Machpelah for the burial of Sarah his wife (Gn.23). This allusion has given rise to much controversy. At the time of the entry of the Israelites it was held by three chieftains of great stature, Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai (Nu.13.22). On the partition of the country it was allotted to the tribe of Judah, or rather to the Calebites (Jos.14.12, 15.14), who captured it for the Israelite immigrants (Jg.1.9f). In Jos.10.1-27, 36-39 a different account of the capture of Hebron is given (cf also Jos.11.21). According to this story, Hoham was king of Hebron at the time; .he joined a coalition of five Amorite kings, headed by Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem against Gibeon, which was allied with the Israelites. Joshua defeated the coalition at Gibeon in the spectacular episode when the 'sun stood still,' and he slaughtered the kings at the cave of Makkedah. Following this, Hebron was destroyed and its inhabitants put to the sword. The relationship of the two accounts is not clear. The Alt-Noth school takes the Joshua story to be an etiology, and unhistorical (cf M. Noth, Das Buck Josua 2 [HAT; 1953]). Opposed is the view of the Baltimore School, which regards the stories as essentially historical, though the sequence and date of the events are not certain (cf W. F. Albright, BASOR, No. 74 , 11-23 ; G. E. Wright, JNES, v , 105-114). A third view is expressed by Y. Kaufmann in The Biblical Account of the Conquest of Palestine (Jerusalem, 1953), who holds that the account in Judges 1 is subsequent to that in Joshua; nonetheless the situation regarding Hebron remains complex. For a judicious evaluation of the evidence see J. Bright, IB, ii (1953), 541 ff. The city itself was allotted to the Kohathite Levites, and it was set apart as a city of refuge (Jos.20.7). Here David reigned seven and a half years over Judah (2 S.5.5), till his capture of Jerusalem from the Jebusites fixed there the capital of the country. It was here also that the rebellious Absalom established himself as king (2 S.15.7ff). It was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Ch.11.10). From the period of the monarchy in Judah (8th cent. on), come many large storage jars stamped with the royal seal, and bearing the name of one of four cities (among them Hebron) in which these jars were apparently produced. They were of fixed capacity, two baths (about 10 gallons), and were intended for use .in commerce and the payment of taxes in kind (cf G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology , pp. 193 f). After the Captivity it was for a time in the hands of the Edomites (though from Neh.11.25 it would appear to have been temporarily colonized by the returned Jews), but was re-captured by Judas Maccabaeus (1 Mac.5.65). In the war under Vespasian it was burned. In 1167 it became the see of a Latin bishop; in 1187 it was captured for the Muslims by Saladin.
[Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963 - R.A.S.M. - D.N.F.]
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