Palm Sunday pilgrims inside Holy Sepulchre
Throughout Bible lands there are numerous
"traditional" tombs of
various Biblical personages, sometimes several for one individual! In many
cases, there is no historical or archaeological evidence to back up the
identification. There are various
instances where there is strong, if not certain, evidence for locating the
site of a person, or persons, named in the Bible.
today, there are two sites claiming to be the location of the tomb of Jesus: the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Garden Tomb. The Garden Tomb was
identified as the tomb of Jesus only in the late 1800s and lacks
historical credibility. A long tradition going back to the first century,
however, maintains that Jesus' tomb is at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
in the Old City of Jerusalem.
In the 4th century, Constantine supposedly located the tomb site beneath a
second century Roman temple. He constructed a church over it. This church
has been restored and maintained over the centuries ever since. It is
today shared by six faiths: Latin Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenians,
Syrian, Copts and Ethiopians.
Holy Sepulchre Church,
Caiaphas the High Priest
Ossuary of Caiaphas the High
was high priest for 18 years, A.D. 18-36. He most likely gained the
position by marrying the daughter of Annas, head
of a powerful high-priestly clan (John 18:13).
is infamous as the leader of the conspiracy to crucify Jesus.
At a meeting of the religious leaders, Caiaphas
said, "It is better for you that one man die for the people than the whole
nation perish" (John 11:50).
He was referring to the possible intervention of the Roman
authorities, if Jesus' teaching should cause unrest. His words were
prophetic in that Jesus did die for the people, all the people of the
earth, as a sacrifice for sin.
After He was arrested, Jesus was taken to Caiaphas' house and detained
overnight. The guards mocked and beat Him (Luke
22:63-65). In the morning He was interrogated and further beaten.
Caiaphas asked Him, "Are you the Christ (Messiah),
the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," Jesus replied (Mark
14:61-62). Caiaphas then handed Jesus over to Pilate
to be tried.
Following Jesus' crucifixion,
continued to persecute the early church. He brought the apostles before
the religious leaders and said to them, "We gave you strict orders not to
teach in this Name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and
are determined to make us guilty of this man's (Jesus') blood." Peter and the
replied, "We must obey God rather then men" (Acts
The Caiaphas family tomb was accidentally discovered by workers
constructing a road in a park just south of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Archaeologists were hastily called to the scene. When they examined the
tomb they found 12 ossuaries (limestone bone boxes) containing the remains
of 63 individuals. The most beautifully decorated of the ossuaries was
inscribed with the name "Joseph son of (or, of the family of) Caiaphas."
That was the full name of the high priest who arrested Jesus, as
documented by Josephus (Antiquities 18: 2, 2; 4, 3). Inside were
the remains of a 60-year-old male, almost certainly those of the Caiaphas
of the New Testament. This remarkable discovery has, for the first time,
provided us with the physical remains of an individual named in the
James, brother of Jesus
discovered his ossuary (burial box)? Answer...
[Learn more more
A great politician and administrator, Augustus
ruled the Roman
empire from 27 B.C.-A.D. 14. It was Augustus who issued the census
decree that brought Mary
where Jesus was born (Luke 2:1-7).
Augustus erected for himself a grand mausoleum in Rome, on the east bank
of the Tiber River, one quarter mile northwest of the Roman Forum. The
remains exist today in the middle of the Piazza Augusto Imperatore.
It was 285 feet in diameter and 143 feet high, surmounted by a statue
of the emperor. His ashes were placed in an urn in the center, while those
of other members of the dynasty were place in urns in a corridor around a
central cylinder. Although some of the urns were found in place by
excavators, the ashes had long since disappeared.
Ceasar Augustus / Read the story of
Christ's birth ]
Tomb of the Patriarchs
The Bible says that Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah and Jacob were
buried in Hebron, in a
the Cave of Machpelah,
purchased by Abraham (Gen. 23).
Traditionally, this cave has been located below the Haram el-Khalil
("sacred precinct of the friend of the merciful One, God") in Hebron,
today a Muslim mosque. References as early as the Hellenistic period (2nd
century B.C.) testify that this is the authentic location of the burial place
of the Patriarchs. The cave was explored by the Augustine Canons in 1119,
at which time they claim to have found the bones of the Patriarchs.
Joseph, son of Jacob (grandson of
Has Joseph's original tomb been found? Answer...
more about Joseph]
Tombs of David and Solomon
Throughout the kingdom period, the kings of Judah were
buried within the city of
David. At the southern end of the City of David, south of the Old City
there are two monumental tunnel tombs which many scholars believe are the
tombs of David and Solomon.
Unfortunately, they were damaged by later quarrying, so no identifying
inscriptions have survived. In the same area are many Iron Age tombs,
possibly those of other kings of Judah.
One exception to the normal custom was the burial of Uzziah.
Since he was a leper, he
was not buried with the other kings, but "near them in a field for burial that
belonged to the kings, for people said, 'he had leprosy'" (2 Chr
Interestingly, an inscription was found on the Mount of
Olives in 1931 dating to the first century A.D. which reads, "Here
were brought the bones of Uzziah, King
of Judah – do not open." Evidently, because of his leprosy,
Uzziah's bones were removed from the field belonging to the kings and
transferred to yet a more remote location.Cyrus the Great
ruled the Persian
empire from 559-530 B.C. He is best known for his capture of Babylon in
539 B.C. Already in the 8th century B.C.
Isaiah predicted this defeat (
Cyrus was buried in a simple gabled stone tomb outside his capital of
Pasargadae in modern Iran. According to the historian Strabo, this
inscription once graced the structure, "Oh man, I am Cyrus, the son of
Cambyses, who founded the empire of Persia, and
was king of Asia. Grudge
me not therefore this monument" (Geography xv.3.7).