Ramat Rachel

Ramat Rachel

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Ramat Rachel is a kibbutz
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

 located south of Jerusalem in Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, as an enclave within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries. Overlooking Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

 and Rachel's Tomb
Rachel's Tomb
Rachel's Tomb , also known as the Dome of Rachel, , is an ancient structure believed to be the burial place of the biblical matriarch Rachel. It is located on the outskirts of Bethlehem, a Palestinian city just south of Jerusalem, in the West Bank...

 (for which the kibbutz name is named) and situated within the Green Line
Green Line (Israel)
Green Line refers to the demarcation lines set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbours after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War...

, it falls under the jurisdiction of Mateh Yehuda Regional Council
Mateh Yehuda Regional Council
Mateh Yehuda Regional Council is a regional council in the Jerusalem District of Israel. In 2008 it was home to 36,200 people.The name of the regional council stems from the fact that its territory was part of the land allotted to the Tribe of Judah, according to the Bible.-Places and...

. As of 2010, the kibbutz's population numbers approximately 400 members, children and residents.


The kibbutz was established in 1926 by members of the Gdud HaAvoda
Gdud HaAvoda
G'dud HaʿAvodah VeHaHaganah ʿAl-Shem Yosef Trumpeldor , commonly known as Gdud HaAvoda, was a socialist Zionist work group in Mandate Palestine.The group was established on 8 August 1920, with the three focuses of work, settlement and defence...

 labor brigade. Their goal was to settle in Jerusalem and earn their livelihood from manual labor, working in such trades as stonecutting, housing construction and haulage. After living in a temporary camp in Jerusalem, a group of ten pioneers settled on a stony plot of land on a 803-metre high hill south of the city. The kibbutz was destroyed by the Arabs in the riots of 1929
1929 Palestine riots
The 1929 Palestine riots, also known as the Western Wall Uprising, the 1929 Massacres, , or the Buraq Uprising , refers to a series of demonstrations and riots in late August 1929 when a long-running dispute between Muslims and Jews over access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem escalated into violence...

. Hundreds of Arabs attacked the training farm and burned it to the ground.
The settlers returned to the site a year later. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

 it was cut off from the city. In 1967 it was the target of intensive artillery shelling from Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

ian positions. As the borders of Jerusalem were expanded southward, the kibbutz was included within the city's municipal borders. In 1990, the kibbutz had a population of 140 adults and 150 children.


The kibbutz economy revolves around its hotel and banquet hall, Mitzpeh Rachel, billed as the only kibbutz hotel in Jerusalem. The hotel, surrounded by gardens, has 108 rooms offering a panoramic view of Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

, the Judean Desert
Judean desert
The Judaean Desert is a desert in Israel and the West Bank that lies east of Jerusalem and descends to the Dead Sea. It stretches from the northeastern Negev to the east of Beit El, and is marked by terraces with escarpments. It ends in a steep escarpment dropping to the Dead Sea and the Jordan...

 and Herodion. The hotel also operates a convention center, tennis courts and a large (covered in winter) swimming pool, open to the public (membership is required). The kibbutz grows cherries, nectarines and olives in orchards surrounding the kibbutz. In addition, the kibbutz grows oranges, grapefruit, persimmons, figs, pomelos, tangerines in an agricultural area located near Kibbutz Revadim. Tourism is also an important part of the economy. An archeology park is located on the hilltop with remains of a massive palace and waterworks believed to date back to the early Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...


Archaeological findings

The first scientific exploration of the site, known in Arabic as Khirbet es-Sallah, was conducted by Benjamin Mazar
Benjamin Mazar
Benjamin Mazar was a pioneering Israeli historian, recognized as the "dean" of biblical archaeologists. He shared the national passion for the archaeology of Israel that also attracts considerable international interest due to the region's biblical links...

 and Moshe Stekelis in 1930-1931. In a series of digs in 1959-1962, Yohanan Aharoni
Yohanan Aharoni
Yohanan Aharoni , was an Israeli archaeologist and historical geographer, chairman of the Department of Near East Studies and chairman of the Institute of Archeology at Tel-Aviv University.-Life:...

 tentatively identified it as the biblical Beit Hakerem
Beit HaKerem
Beit HaKerem may refer to:* Beit HaKerem, Jerusalem, a neighborhood in west-central Jerusalem* Beit HaKerem , a biblical fortress in Judea identified by many with the later Herodium site...

Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the book of Isaiah and preceding Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve....

 6:1), one of the places from which flaming warning signals were sent to Jerusalem at the end of the First Temple period. Yigael Yadin
Yigael Yadin
Yigael Yadin on 21 March 1917, died 28 June 1984) was an Israeli archeologist, politician, and the second Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces.-Early life and military career:...

  dated the palace excavated by Aharoni to the reign of Athaliah
Athaliah was the queen of Judah during the reign of King Jehoram, and later became sole ruler of Judah for six years. William F. Albright has dated her reign to 842–837 BC, while Edwin R. Thiele's dates, as taken from the third edition of his magnum opus, were 842/841 to 836/835 BC...

 and identified it as the "House of Baal" recorded in 2 Kings 11:18.

One of many important artifacts discovered at Ramat Rachel are LMLK seal
LMLK seal
LMLK seals were stamped on the handles of large storage jars mostly in and around Jerusalem during the reign of King Hezekiah based on several complete jars found in situ buried under a destruction layer caused by Sennacherib at Lachish...

 impressions found on broken jar handles. Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay
Gabriel Barkay
Gabriel Barkay is an Israeli archaeologist. Born in 1944 in Hungary, he immigrated to Israel in 1950. He received his PhD in Archaeology from Tel Aviv University in 1985. His dissertation was about LMLK seal impressions on jar handles. He participated in the Lachish excavations with David Ussishkin...

, who excavated the site in 1984, says the ancient name of the site may have been MMST
MMST appears exclusively on LMLK seal inscriptions, seen in archaeological findings in Israel, and its meaning has been the subject of continual controversy.-ממשת transliterations into English:...

, one of four enigmatic words that appear on the handles. Supporting Barkay is a potsherd unearthed by Aharoni which may be decorated with an image of King Hezekiah, who reigned at the time. However, more handles with HBRN (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...

) and ZYF (Ziph
Ziph (Judean Mountains)
Ziph was a city in the Judean Mountains , south-east of Hebron. Here David hid himself from Saul . The name of Zif is found about four miles south of Hebron, attached to a rounded hill of some 100 feet in height, which is called Tell Zif.-From archaeology:Scholars debate the interpretation of the...

) inscriptions have been found at Ramat Rahel than MMST.

Excavations resumed in 2004 under the direction of Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University is a public university located in Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel. With nearly 30,000 students, TAU is Israel's largest university.-History:...

 archeologists Oded Lipschits and Manfred Oeming. According to Lipschits, the site was a palace or administrative center with a water works system "unparalleled in Eretz Israel."

In July 2008, archeologists discovered a cooking pot from the 1st century CE containing 15 large gold coins. The pot was found under the floor of a columbarium
A columbarium is a place for the respectful and usually public storage of cinerary urns . The term comes from the Latin columba and originally referred to compartmentalized housing for doves and pigeons .The Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas is a particularly fine ancient Roman example, rich in...


Sculptures and environmental art

A grove of 200 olive trees planted on the outskirts of the kibbutz leads up to the Olive Columns, two 33-foot high pedestals topped by live olive trees, the work of Israeli artist Ran Morin
Ran Morin
Ran Morin is an Israeli artist, known for his statues involving full-sized living trees. Much of his work is found in Israel, notably the Olive Tree and surrounding park on the Ramat Rachel kibbutz...


In the hotel garden is a sculpture of the biblical matriarch Rachel
Rachel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, is a prophet and the favorite wife of Jacob, one of the three Biblical Patriarchs, and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. She was the daughter of Laban and the younger sister of Leah, Jacob's first wife...

, who personifies the nation. In the Book of Jeremiah
Jeremiah Hebrew:יִרְמְיָה , Modern Hebrew:Yirməyāhū, IPA: jirməˈjaːhu, Tiberian:Yirmĭyahu, Greek:Ἰερεμίας), meaning "Yahweh exalts", or called the "Weeping prophet" was one of the main prophets of the Hebrew Bible...

, Rachel is depicted as a woman of large proportions, protecting two children and surveying the horizon as though waiting for others.

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