Tomb of Rachel (Bilal bin Rabah mosque)
The burial place of the matriarch Rachel (قبر راحيل), also known as the Bilal bin Rabaha Masjid (مسجد بلال بن رباح), as mentioned in the Jewish Tanach and Christian Old Testament, and in Muslim literature is contested between this site and several others to the north — though this site is by far the most recognized candidate.
The tomb, located at the northern entrance of Bethlehem, is built in the style of a traditional maqam. The burial place of the matriarch Rachel as mentioned in the Jewish Tanakh, the Christian Old Testament and in Muslim literature is contested between this site and several others to the north. Although this site is considered unlikely to be the actual site of the grave, it is by far the most recognized candidate.
- Breger, Marshall J.; Reiter, Yitzhak; Hammer, Leonard (19 June 2013). Sacred Space in Israel and Palestine: Religion and Politics. Routledge. pp. 12–. ISBN 978-1-136-49034-7. On 11 September 2002, the Israeli security cabinet approved placing Rachel's Tomb on the Jerusalem side of the Security Wall, thus placing Rachel's Tomb within the “Jerusalem Security Envelope,” and de facto annexing it to Jerusalem.
- Strickert 2007, p. 72: “Rather than being content with half a dozen or even a full dozen witnesses, we have tried to compile as many sources as possible. During the Roman and Byzantine era, when Christians dominated there was really not much attention given to Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. It was only when the Muslims took control that the shrine became an important site. Yet it was rarely considered a shrine exclusive to one religion. To be sure, most of the witnesses were Christian, yet there were also Jewish and Muslim visitors to the tomb. Equally important, the Christian witnesses call attention to the devotion shown to the shrine throughout much of this period by local Muslims and then later also by Jews. As far as the building itself, it appears to be a cooperative venture. There is absolutely no evidence of a pillar erected by Jacob. The earliest form of the structure was that of a pyramid typical of Roman period architecture. Improvements were made first by Crusader Christians a thousand years later, then Muslims in several stages, and finally by the Jewish philanthropist Moses Montefiore in the nineteenth century. If there is one lesson to be learned, it is that this is a shrine held in esteem equally by Jews, Muslims, and Christians. As far as authenticity we are on shaky ground. It may be that the current shrine has physical roots in the biblical era. However, the evidence points to the appropriation of a tomb from the Herod family. If there was a memorial to Rachel in Bethlehem during the late biblical era, it was likely not at the current site of Rachel’s Tomb.”
- Conder, C. R. (1877). "The Moslem Mukams". Quarterly Statement - Palestine Exploration Fund. 9 (3): 89–103. doi:10.1179/peq.1822.214.171.124. Alone and separated from the family sepulchre, the little "dome of Rachel " stands between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The Kubbeh itself is modern, and has been repaired of late years. In 700 A.D. Arculphus saw only a pyramid, which was also visited by Benjamin of Tudela in1160 A.D., and perhaps by Sanuto in 1322 A.D. The site has been disputed on account of the expression (1 Sam. x. 2) " in the border of Benjamin," and there can be no doubt that the Kubbet Rahil never was on or very near this border. The Vulgate translation, however, seems perhaps to do away with this difficulty, and as Rachel’s tomb was only “a little way” from Ephrath, "which is Bethlehem" (Gen. xxxv. 16–19), and the tradition is of great antiquity, there is no very good reason for rejecting it.
- Bowman, 2015, p.34: "Jachintus’s mention of a Christian cemetery surrounding the tomb suggests that for Bethlehemites – exclusively Christian up until the late eighteenth century – the biblical site on the outskirts of the city was blessed by the presence of a nurturing saint likely to help those buried in her vicinity to achieve salvation. By the fifteenth century, according to the pilgrim Johannes Poloner, Muslims, most likely from surrounding Muslim villages, were being buried on the southern side of the shrine. Increasingly the cemetery surrounding the tomb became Muslim. In 1839, Mary Damer described bedouin burying a shaykh in the graveyard, while in 1853 James Finn wrote of witnessing Bethlehem Muslims “burying one of their dead near the spot." Philip Baldensperger, a resident of nearby Artas between 1856 and 1892, wrote of Rachel’s Tomb in his Immovable East that "a number of Bedawin, men and women, were assembled there for a funeral service, for the Bedawin of the desert of Judah all bury their dead near Rachel’s sanctuary as their forefathers the Israelites of old did around their sanctuaries." Christian burial in the Tomb’s vicinity had dropped off by the mid-nineteenth century”