TOUR GUIDE IN ISRAEL
Tour Guide Israel – Nabi Samuel – the cave-grave of Samuel the Judge
קבר שמואל – נבי סמואל
By Joel Berman – Private Tour Guide in Israel
Samuel 25:1 – “Now Samuel died. And all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah.”
So where is Ramah? The transliteration of the Bible (the Septuagint or Vulgate translations) were not that great. Ramah is the name of an ancient town or in Hebrew – literally a high mountain. The ancient town of Ramah has been identified as the modern village of el-Gib (Gibeon – Joshua 10:12) and is situated aside Mt Samuel some 8 miles north of Jerusalem on the highest place surrounding the city.
Standing on the Mt of Olives the high mountain covers the north-western horizon and is very clearly “the high place”.
The Tomb of Samuel is the traditional burial site of the biblical Judge Samuel (The last Judge and also known as Samuel the Prophet), atop a steep hill at an elevation of 900 meters above sea level. On the site is a building containing a mosque built in the 18th century that was formerly a church. The tomb itself is located in an underground chamber, a cave-grave, where a small synagogue is located. Over time practically every ancient Jewish traveler mentioned the place and its synagogue.
A large monastery was built by the Byzantines, of which little remains. There is no clear evidence that the place was considered the Tomb of Samuel, or indeed a place of religious significance, before Byzantine times.
Raymond of Aguilers, who wrote a chronicle of the First Crusade (1096–1099), relates that on the morning of June 7, 1099, the Crusaders reached the summit of Nebi Samuel, and when they saw the city of Jerusalem, which they had not yet seen, they fell to the ground and wept in joy. The Crusaders named the place “Mount of Joy for this reason. The Crusaders built a fortress on the spot, which was razed by the Mamelukes and in modern times a mosque was built on the site.
The site was excavated between 1992-2003 and the earliest findings go back to the 8th/7th Century BC.
The fact that there are three different religions’ holy sites built one above the other should ring a bell. Every “newer” religion builds its holy site on top of the previous religion’s holy place. The nice way to put it is that the new religious place “hallows the other religions” holy place, but in reality this is the way of “cancelling the previous religions” rule. In the Holy Land, because many religions reigned here – this is fairly common. (As a good example see the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul – previously a Cathedral).
Enjoy Amnon Ziv’s aerial photography of Nabi Samuel