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Cave of the Patriarchs

Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18 )

by Yoram and Meira Raanan

"Cave of the Patriarchs," 2013, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 190 cm.

Sarah died in Kiryat Arba, also known as Hebron... Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to bewail her. ...Abraham then buried Sarah his wife in the cave of Machpelah... (Genesis 23:2,19)

In 2013 Raanan was commissioned to paint the four holy cities of Israel - Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed ? each of which is associated with one of the four elements. Hebron is associated with the element of earth, and its quintessential image is the Cave of Machpelah. Machpelah comes from the same Hebrew root as kaful, double, referring to the double cave and to the four special couples buried there: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah.

The first time Abraham entered the cave, he saw Adam and Eve and a light emanating from the Garden of Eden (Zohar 1:128b). In the painting, a procession of people enters under a vaulted ceiling into hidden chambers within. They proceed toward a light which shines and illuminates the scene. The Hebrew name of Hebron, Chevron, is related to chaver, to unite. It is here in Hebron that the end of temporal life connects to the next world and eternity.


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