Archaeology news: Expert believes Israel’s founding father Jacob is waiting to be found

Jacob is a biblical hero, who despite his cunning and deceitful ways, has come to be known as one of Israel’s most important figures. According to the Bible, Jacob and his twin brother Esau were direct descendants of Abraham through their father Isaac. During his adventures outlined in the Old Testament, God granted Jacob the blessing of bountiful lands and offspring.

Scripture then states 10 of Jacob’s 13 children went on to establish the founding tribes of Israel.

Among them was his son Judah, from whose lineage King David and Joseph the carpenter are said to have been born.

And although these are Biblical fables, many experts believe Israel’s patriarchs were historical figures.

Abraham, for instance, is believed to be resting in the Cave of Patriarchs, a complex of caves and burial plots in the heart of Hebron, southern West Bank.

And it is in this cave that many experts believe Jacob was buried at the age of 147.

According to Tom Meyer, a professor of Bible studies at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, US, there is chance Jacob’s embalmed remains are still there waiting to be discovered.

He told “Archaeological insights have come to light that shed detailed information on how one of the most famous people in the Bible, Jacob, the founder of the children of Israel, was embalmed and mummified in Egypt.

“Though only two short verses are given describing the procedure in Genesis 50:2-3, we can piece together the procedure with thorough information.

“The Egyptian ‘physicians’ who oversaw Jacob’s preparations were specialists in the art of embalming.

Archaeological insights have come to light

Professor Tom Meyer, Shasta Bible College and Graduate School

“Just like today there are different levels of expense one can spend on a funeral, so in antiquity there were different processes of embalming, depending on the budget of the family of the deceased.”

Professor Meyer believes Jacob and his 11th son Joseph, were undoubtedly embalmed through the most expensive means.

He said: “According to James Freeman, a specialist on ancient near eastern customs, preparatory to the process of embalming, the brain was removed by means of a crooked wire inserted through the nose.

“Then an incision was then made in the left side of the abdomen with a stone knife.

“Through this incision, the intestines were withdrawn, with the exception of the heart and kidneys.”

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In some cases, the innards were stored in specially prepared canopic jars.

The body was then carefully washed externally with water, and with cedar oil on the inside.

Cavities, such as the head and abdomen, were filled with spices and the incisions were stitched up.

The entire body was then steeped in a fusion of nitre for 40 days, and once complete, it was wrapped in bandages of fine linen.

Professor Meyer said: “Layers of cloth, plastered with lime on the inside, were next placed on the body in a damped condition, fitting exactly to its shape.

“These layers were put on in sufficient numbers to make a thick case, which, when it was finished, was taken off until it became hardened when it was replaced, and sewed up at the back.

“It was painted and ornamented with various figures, and in many instances, was gilded.

“The part immediately over the face was made to resemble, as near as possible, the features of the deceased.”

The body was then transferred into another case, likely made of sycamore or cedarwood.

And in some cases, another wooden case or stone sarcophagus was made.

Professor Meyer said: “Knowledge of the customs and mannerisms of the ancient near east greatly aids us in understanding more about the world of the Bible.

“It is quite probable that the mummy of the famous Biblical patriarch Jacob is buried along with his ancestors Abraham and Isaac in the burial chambers underneath the modern-day mosque in Hebron just waiting to be discovered.”

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