Joseph's Tomb (Nablus)

The tomb of Joseph (قبر يوسف), is a funerary monument located at the eastern entrance to the valley that separates Mounts Gerizim and Ebal, believed to be the burial site of prophet Joseph. Although the Bible does not identify a specific site in Shechem where his bones were laid to rest, the site has been venerated by Samaritans since the second century CE.

circa 400 CE

In the book of Joshua (24:32), Joseph’s bones are said to have been brought from Egypt by the Children of Israel and interred in Shechem. The Bible does not identify a specific site in Shechem where his bones were laid to rest. The rabbis suggest that Joseph instructed his brothers to bury him in Shechem since it was from there he was taken and sold into slavery. Other Jewish sources have him buried either in Safed, or, according to an aggadic tradition, have him interred at Hebron according to his own wishes. This ambiguity is reflected in Islamic tradition as well, which points to Nablus as being the authentic site, though some early Islamic geographers identified the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron as housing his tomb.

circa 400 CE

The present structure, a small rectangular room with a cenotaph, dates from 1868, and is devoid of any trace of ancient building materials. Moses is said to have gathered the bones and taken them with him during the Exodus from Egypt, using magic to raise the coffin, a tradition repeated by Josephus, who specifies that they were buried in Canaan at that time.

circa 400 CE

It is located on the road-side from Balata to ‘Askar, at the end of a row of fine fig trees. The open courtyard surrounding the tomb measures about 18 foot (5.5 m) square. The plastered, whitewashed walls, about 1 foot (0.30 m) thick, are in good repair and stand 10 foot (3.0 m) high. Entrance to the courtyard is from the north through the ruin of a little square domed building. There are two Hebrew inscriptions on the south wall.

circa 400 CE

Conder questions the fact that the tomb points north to south, inconsistent with Muslim tombs north of Mecca. This fact did not however diminish Muslim veneration of the shrine: The tomb points approximately north and south, thus being at right angles to the direction of Moslem tombs north of Mecca. How the Mohammedans explain this disregard of orientation in so respected a Prophet as "our Lord Joseph", I have never heard; perhaps the rule is held to be only established since the time of Mohammed.

circa 400 CE

The building is in the Ottoman-style and consists of a northern courtyard with a central font and a domed inner room with a stone cenotaph as the focus of veneration. The tomb (cenotaph) is not in line with the walls of the courtyard, nor is it in the middle of the enclosure, being nearest to the west wall. Also in the sixth century, during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (527–565 CE), Joseph’s tomb was included on the Madaba Mosaic Map, indicating the shrine (inspect) existed before Islam.

circa 400 CE

According to the Bible, Joseph was embalmed and buried in a coffin in Egypt (Goshen/Avaris), after having his people swear to carry his bones away. Later midrash identify his first entombment in a royal mausoleum, or as cast into the Nile. A more recent discovery of a "statue of an Asiatic Dignitary", by Bietak is hypothesised as the original burial site of Joseph in Egypt.

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