By ;Vardah Littman
Photos by; Rimonah Traub
Ramat Rachel, (Rachel’s Heights) is a kibbutz located within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries.Overlooking Beit Lechem, Kever Rachel, and Herodion in the distance, the kibbutz lies within the Green Line.
Established in 1926, Kibbutz Ramat Rachel was razed to the groundonly three years later during the Arab riots of 1929. The settlers returned within a year to rebuild.
During the1948 war, many battles were fought over Ramat Rachel because of its strategic importance. It commands a panoramic view of the Bethlehem-Jerusalem Road, and whoever controls these heights has the
potential to prevent free movement of military forces and supplies through this southern gateway to Jerusalem.
At one point Ramat Rachel was cut off from the city by the Arab Legion in cooperation with Egyptian forces, but eventually, the Arabs were driven away.
In 1967 Ramat Rachel was once again the target of intensive artillery shelling from Jordanian positions.
Nowadays, the kibbutz features a hotel and banquet hall surrounded by gardens. The hotel also operates a convention center, tennis courts, and a large swimming pool. The kibbutz grows apples, cherries, peaches, plums, persimmons, kiwis, and nuts.
The kibbutz also features an archeology park with the remains of a massive palace and waterworks believed to date back to the period of the first Bais HaMikdash. The palace is thought to have been the summer home of the Kings of Yehudah.
However, the identity of the biblical Ramat Rachel is still an open question. Three possibilities have been proposed:
1. Beth Cherem-Jeremiah 6:1; the Raduck says that this was a tower built in a high vineyard in order to watch the vines. Whenever danger approached troches were lit in the tower. These firebrands could be seen from afar and therefore, warned people.
2. Netophah-Shmuel Bais 23:28. Dovid had thirty seven warriors .Maharai the Netophathite is mentioned among the thirty listed in this verse . .
The verses in Ezra 2:22 and Nechemyah 7:26; 12:28, also cite this name.
3. Temple of Baal-Melachim Bais 11:18; Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. She had been married to King Jehoram of Judah. After her son King Ahaziah was killed by Jehu, she decided she wanted to be sole ruler of the kingdom. In order to eliminate all opposition, Athaliah murdered all her own grandchildren. So that no one should suspect her, she poisoned them so that it would look like they died of a plague. They died a slow and painful death. Only Jehoash, a baby at the time, escaped. He was hidden in the Bais HaMigdash by his aunt, Jehosheba the wife of the Kohen Gadol Jehoiada. When he turned seven he was crowned king by Jehoiad the Kohen. Queen Athaliah was killed. At the time of the coronation of Jehoash the people went and tore down the Beit Habaal which had been Athalliah's place of worship.
The area may have been an administrative center during both the first and second Temple periods. Perhaps it served for tax collecting and storage. Many stone stamp impressions have been unearthed here.
When the Maccabees ruled, they built many coops to breed sacrificial doves in this area. The Hasmonean Dynasty also redirected the water in the area to sustain about 20 mikvahs. Ramat Rahel became a way station
where pilgrims could purchase doves for sacrifices and could immerse in the mikvahs to prepare for their entry into Jerusalem.
On the grounds of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, the environmental artist Ran Morin has constructed a number of installations using both dormant materials and plant elements. Ran Morin was born in Israel in 1958 and is best known for his creations that incorporate full-sized growing trees
You can reach Kibbutz Ramat Rachel by taking the No. 7 Egged busline.
Published in "The English Update" 12 Oct 2010. כט תשרי תשע"א
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Ramat Rachel - Archaeology