Four Holy Cities

Four Holy Cities

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The Four Holy Cities , is the collective term in Jewish
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 tradition applied to the cities of Jerusalem, Hebron
Hebron
Hebron , is located in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter...

, Tiberias, and Safed
Safed
Safed , is a city in the Northern District of Israel. Located at an elevation of , Safed is the highest city in the Galilee and of Israel. Due to its high elevation, Safed experiences warm summers and cold, often snowy, winters...

: "Since the sixteenth century the holiness of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, especially for burial, has been almost wholly transferred to four cities—Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed."
  • Jerusalem has been the holiest city in Judaism and the spiritual epicenter of the Jewish people since the 10th century BC
    10th century BC
    The 10th century BC started the first day of 1000 BC and ended the last day of 901 BC.- Overview :This period followed the Bronze Age collapse in the Near East, and the century saw the Early Iron Age take hold there. The Greek Dark Ages which had come about in 1200 BC continued. The Neo-Assyrian...

     when the site was chosen during the lifetime of King David to be the location of the Holy Temple. Jerusalem is associated with the element of fire (a reference to the continuous sacrificial fires kept burning in the Holy Temple.)
  • Hebron is the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs
    Patriarchs (Bible)
    The Patriarchs of the Bible, when narrowly defined, are Abraham, the ancestor of all the Abrahamic nations; his son Isaac, the ancestor of the nations surrounding Israel/Judah; and Isaac's son Jacob, also named Israel, the ancestor of the Israelites...

    : Abraham
    Abraham
    Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

     and Sarah
    Sarah
    Sarah or Sara was the wife of Abraham and the mother of Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible and the Quran. Her name was originally Sarai...

    , Isaac
    Isaac
    Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible, was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah, and was the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites...

     and Rebecca
    Rebecca
    Rebecca a biblical matriarch from the Book of Genesis and a common first name. In this book Rebecca was said to be a beautiful girl. As a name it is often shortened to Becky, Becki or Becca; see Rebecca ....

     and Jacob
    Jacob
    Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

     and Leah
    Leah
    Leah , as described in the Hebrew Bible, is the first of the two concurrent wives of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob and mother of six of sons whose descendants became the Twelve Tribes of Israel, along with at least one daughter, Dinah. She is the daughter of Laban and the older sister of Rachel, whom...

     ( Cave of the Patriarchs
    Cave of the Patriarchs
    The Cave of the Patriarchs or the Cave of Machpelah , is known by Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham or Ibrahimi Mosque ....

     ). As such Hebron is the second holiest city to Jews, and is one of the two cities that were purchased on behalf of the Jewish people by Biblical figures (Abraham bought Hebron from the Hittites, King David bought Jerusalem from the Jebusites). Historically, it is the first capital of King David. Hebron is associated with the element of earth (a reference to the Cave where the patriarchs and matriarchs were buried.)
  • Safed (Tz'fat) came to be regarded as a holy city after the influx of Jews following the expulsion of Jews from Spain
    Alhambra decree
    The Alhambra Decree was an edict issued on 31 March 1492 by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year.The edict was formally revoked on 16 December 1968, following the Second...

     in 1492 and became known as a center of kabbalistic
    Kabbalah
    Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

     scholarship. Safed is associated with the element of air (a reference to the mystical/spiritual branch of Judaism that flourishes there.)
  • Tiberias was significant in Jewish history as the place where the Jerusalem Talmud
    Jerusalem Talmud
    The Jerusalem Talmud, talmud meaning "instruction", "learning", , is a collection of Rabbinic notes on the 2nd-century Mishnah which was compiled in the Land of Israel during the 4th-5th century. The voluminous text is also known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmud de-Eretz Yisrael...

     was composed and as the home of the Masoretes
    Masoretes
    The Masoretes were groups of mostly Karaite scribes and scholars working between the 7th and 11th centuries, based primarily in present-day Israel in the cities of Tiberias and Jerusalem, as well as in Iraq...

    , but its status as a holy city is due to the influx of rabbis who established the city as a center for Jewish learning in the 18th and 19th centuries. According to Jewish tradition, the redemption will begin in Tiberias and the Sanhedrin
    Sanhedrin
    The Sanhedrin was an assembly of twenty-three judges appointed in every city in the Biblical Land of Israel.The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme court of ancient Israel made of 71 members...

     will be reconstituted there. The Messiah will arise from the lake of Tiberias, enter into the city, and be enthroned at Safed on the summit of a lofty hill.

See also

  • Temple in Jerusalem
    Temple in Jerusalem
    The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

  • Yishuv haYashan
  • Holy of Holies
    Holy of Holies
    The Holy of Holies is a term in the Hebrew Bible which refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem where the Ark of the Covenant was kept during the First Temple, which could be entered only by the High Priest on Yom Kippur...

  • Laws and customs of the Land of Israel in Judaism
    Laws and customs of the Land of Israel in Judaism
    Laws and customs of the Land of Israel in Judaism are special Jewish laws that apply only to the Land of Israel. According to a standard view, 26 of the 613 mitzvot apply only in the Land of Israel. Overall, the laws and customs may be classified as follows:...