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  • Writer's pictureRaz Tsafrir

Necropolis, the city of the dead

After the failed Jewish revolt against the Roman empire and the destruction of Jerusalem and the 2nd temple by Titus in 70 A.D, Jews were desperate. With no temple worship, no priests to follow and no place to stay, because the Romans pushed them out of Jerusalem, Jews fled and settled in the lower Galilee. Small communities started to form in the Galilee and around the Izrael Valley. Towns like Bet Shearim, Tsipori, Usha, Arbel, Hukuk, Shefaram, Tiberius started to flourish again. Synagogues were built, this time not only for schooling purposes but also as a place of worship, a replacement for the destroyed temple. Since there was no temple, Jews could not Fulfill the commandments of coming to pray in Jerusalem 3 times a year. The 24 families of the priests kept some sort of connection with Jerusalem and spent a week there, twice a year.

In 132 A.D following Hadrian Caesar decision to build a temple for Afrodita on the ruins of the temple, Jews rebelled again, led by the most famous Jewish warrior of all times - Bar Kochva. It took the Romans 3 years to kill the rebels and regain control of the land of Israel. More than 500,000 Jews were killed, Jerusalem was rename to Ilya Capitolina, and Israel was renamed to Palestine. In a small village in the Galilee a new leader was born.His name was Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi but everybody called him "Rebi". He became the spiritual, religions and political leader of the Jews, and headed the 'Sanhedrin' - the Jewish "supreme court".

Rebi lived and worked in Bet Shearim, and moved to Tsipori when he became old. He signed the "Mishna" in 200 A.D, whihc became the 2nd most important book in the Jewish library after the bible. When he died in 220 A.D he asked to be buried in his hometown of Bet Shearim.

His burial site soon became the most sought-after burial place for Jews all around the world. Bet Shearim became Necropolis, the city of the dead. Thousands of Jews were buried there between the 3rd and 7th centuries, making is the largest burial site in the country. All where buried in Sarcophagus which were stored in caves. Hundreds of them are on display in Nacropolis, a UNESCO Heritage site. Here are some of the sites you can see when visiting the place:

Burial cave in Necropolis.

The largest Menorah chiseled in stone found in Israel.

An amazing Sarcophagus with The four attributes of Christianity: eagle, lion, bull and Adam chiseled on it.

Burial cave. The red light gives it a mystical look.

Sarcophagus in Necropolis.

We visit Necropolis n our 7 and 14 day tours.

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