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Tomb of Benei Hezir

The Tomb of Benei Hezir dates to the Hasmonean period, and is hewn entirely inside the cliff is and the oldest of four monumental rock-cut tombs in the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem.

A Hebrew inscription above the cave indicates that a family of priests from Bnei Hazir are buried in the cave.

“This is the grave and the Nefesh of Eliezer Hania Yoazar and Yehuda Shimon Yochanan sons of Yosef son of Oved Yosef and Elazar sons of Hania, Kohanim of the Hezir family.”

The tomb’s inscription shows that the cave was used by several generations of the Benei Hezir family.

In the Hebrew Bible there are two mentions of men with the name of Hezir.

One was the founder of the 17th priestly division (1 Chron. 24:15); the other one was among the leaders who set their seal to the covenant with Nehemiah (Neh. 10:20).

It is not certain if there is a relation between the family buried in the Tomb of Benei Hezir and the biblical Hezirs.

The inscription mentions a nefesh, which means soul in Hebrew but was meant burial monument.

It has been proposed that the Tomb of Zechariah, is actually this nefesh.

Another option is that the additional façade to the north of the Doric dystilos-in-antis was the original nefesh.

Having a nefesh in front of a tomb was popular in the Second Temple Period among the rich.

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