Ramat Rachel

Ramat Rachel
רָמַת רָחֵל
Ramat Rachel
Coordinates: 31°44′23.97″N 35°13′8.37″E / 31.7399917°N 35.2189917°E / 31.7399917; 35.2189917Coordinates: 31°44′23.97″N 35°13′8.37″E / 31.7399917°N 35.2189917°E / 31.7399917; 35.2189917
District Jerusalem
Council Mateh Yehuda
Affiliation Kibbutz Movement
Founded 1926
Founded by Jerusalem Brigade of Gdud HaAvoda
Population (2015)[1] 467
Website www.ramatrachel.co.il

Ramat Rachel (Hebrew: רָמַת רָחֵל, lit. Rachel's Heights) is a kibbutz in central Israel. An enclave within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries and overlooking Bethlehem and Rachel's Tomb (for which the kibbutz is named), it falls under the jurisdiction of Mateh Yehuda Regional Council. In 2015 it had a population of 467.

According to archaeologists, Ramat Rachel "replaced Jerusalem as the economic and political hub of the southern highlands" in ancient times.[2]


The kibbutz was established in 1926 by members of the Gdud HaAvoda labor brigade. Their goal was to settle in Jerusalem and earn their livelihood from manual labor, working in such trades as stonecutting, housing construction and haulage.[3] After living in a temporary camp in Jerusalem, a group of ten pioneers settled on a stony plot of land on an 803-metre high hill south of the city. The kibbutz was destroyed by the Arabs in the riots of 1929. Hundreds of Arabs attacked the training farm and burned it to the ground.[4] The settlers returned to the site a year later. According to a census conducted in 1931 by the British Mandate authorities, Ramat Rachel had a population of 131, in 45 houses.[5] During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War it was cut off from the city.[6] In 1967 it was the target of intensive artillery shelling from Jordanian positions. As the borders of Jerusalem were expanded southward, the kibbutz was surrounded from all sides by the city's municipal borders. In 1990, the kibbutz had a population of 140 adults and 150 children.[7]


The kibbutz economy is based on hi-tech, tourism and agriculture. Data Detection Technologies, established in 2002, provides advanced counting and packaging solutions for the seed, pharmaceutical and diamond industries based on electro-optic technologies. Data counters are uniquely appropriate for items that are sold by units and not by weight. In the seed industry, prior to the advent of data seed counters, packaging was accomplished by weight. With the advent of seed counters, items are packaged in units as they are sold.[8]

Hotel Mitzpeh Rachel is the only kibbutz hotel in Jerusalem. The hotel, surrounded by gardens, has 108 rooms with a panoramic view of Bethlehem, the Judean Desert and Herodion. The hotel also operates a convention center, tennis courts and a large swimming pool.[9]

The kibbutz grows cherries, oranges, nectarines, grapefruit, olives, persimmons, figs, pomelos and tangerines.

Archaeological findings

Archaeological garden showing Israelite column capitals.

The first scientific exploration of the site, known in Arabic as Khirbet es-Sallah, was conducted by Benjamin Mazar and Moshe Stekelis in 1930–1931. In a series of digs in 1959–1962, Yohanan Aharoni tentatively identified it as the biblical Beit Hakerem (Jeremiah 6:1), one of the places from which flaming warning signals were sent to Jerusalem at the end of the First Temple period.[10] Yigael Yadin dated the palace excavated by Aharoni to the reign of Athaliah and identified it as the "House of Baal" recorded in 2 Kings 11:18.

One of many important artifacts discovered at Ramat Rachel are numerous stamp impressions. Among these are LMLK seal impressions found on broken jar handles.[11] Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay, who excavated the site in 1984, says the ancient name of the site may have been MMST, one of four enigmatic words that appear on the handles.[12] However, more handles with HBRN (Hebron) and ZYF (Ziph) inscriptions have been found at Ramat Rahel than MMST.[13]

Excavations resumed in 2004 under the direction of Tel Aviv University archeologists Oded Lipschits and Manfred Oeming. According to Lipschits, the site was a palace or administrative center with a water works system "unparalleled in Eretz Israel."[14][15] Lipschits says agricultural produce was collected there as a source of government tax revenue.[16]

In July 2008, archeologists discovered a cooking pot from the 1st century CE containing 15 large gold coins. The pot was found under the floor of a columbarium.[17]

Sculptures and environmental art

Sculpture of Rachel
Olive columns sculpture

A grove of 200 olive trees planted on the outskirts of the kibbutz leads up to the Olive Columns, three 33-foot high pedestals topped by live olive trees, the work of Israeli artist Ran Morin.[18]

In the hotel garden is a sculpture of the biblical matriarch Rachel, who personifies the nation. In the Book of Jeremiah, Rachel is depicted as a woman of large proportions, protecting two children and surveying the horizon as though waiting for others.

See also


  1. "List of localities, in Alphabetical order" (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  2. In the Valley of the King: Jerusalem's Rural Hinterland in the 8th-4th centuries BCE
  3. "Kibbutz Ramat Rachel". Krr.co.il. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  4. "קיבוץ רמת רחל ענפים עסקיים". Krr.co.il. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  5. Mills, 1932, p. 42
  6. "Besiege / Yehuda Lapidut – The Battle For Ramat Rachel, Southern Gateway To Jerusalem". Daat.co.il. 1948-07-15. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  7. "Israel's Kibbutz Guesthouses". ISRAEL: NYTimes.com. 1990-05-20. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  8. "Seed Counting ,tablet counting, Filling & Packaging Equipment ,parts counting". Data-technologies.com. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  9. "Ramat Rachel Hotel". Krr.co.il. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  10. "Back To Ramat Rahel: What Do We Want To Find". Tau.ac.il. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  11. "LMLK-Seals from Ramat Rahel". Lmlk.com. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  12. Barkay, Gabriel (2006). "Royal Palace, Royal Portrait?". Biblical Archaeology Review. 32:5 (September/October): 34–44.
  13. Grena, G.M. (2004). LMLK--A Mystery Belonging to the King vol. 1. Redondo Beach, California: 4000 Years of Writing History. ISBN 0-9748786-0-X.
  14. http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1157913679297&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull. Retrieved February 4, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1154525918256&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull. Retrieved February 4, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. "Israeli researchers: Jerusalem's trendiest street built over biblical site". Haaretz.com. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  17. "J'lem Dig turns up gold coins from end of Second Temple period". Haaretz.com. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  18. "Ramat Rachel". Goisrael.com. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
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