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Jerusalem’s Massive Necropolis
News Bytes 10/11/2019 19 Comments

When Jesus called Lazarus out of a tomb (John 11:38-44), His friend might have emerged from an underground burial chamber. It would have likely included several spaces shared by only a few families. That was 2,000 years ago. This week, the clamor of heavy equipment faded briefly as Israeli workers paused to put a much larger burial project on display. It’s all intended to help overcome a looming shortage of gravesites for Jewish people in Jerusalem.

Row upon row of prospective tombs are being built underneath the holy city. There, the city’s dead jostle for space. 

The huge necropolis has 23,000 burial chambers. They line the walls and floor of a mile-long, underground labyrinth. It’s carved under the hillside beneath the city’s main Jewish cemetery, Givat Shaul, which is rapidly running out of room.

Dozens of graveyards in Israel have already closed their gates to new burials.

Chananya Shachor is the local director of Chevra Kadisha, the main group overseeing Jewish burials in Israel. The organization has invested about 300 million shekels ($86 million) in the project. Shachor explains: “According to our plan, after we finish the first part of 23,000 graves, probably we will have enough space to continue digging underground and we don’t know exactly the capacity that we will have at the end of the project. We know that we will continue, if people will accept this new method of burying, we will continue doing all the work underground.”

The current phase of the project will take four years to complete. But the first 8,000 graves will be ready for the end of October.

In the days of Jesus, family members would return and open a tomb to collect the bones of the deceased. They put those bones in an ossuary box to take up less space. No such bone collecting is expected in Jerusalem’s enormous burial chamber!

(The construction site of a massive underground cemetery under a mountain on the outskirts of Jerusalem AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

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Most recent comments

That's weird that they are

That's weird that they are running out of room. And that is a huge burial chamber!

Are people going to accept this?

I have to wonder if people are going to like this or not. Most people don't appreciate change of being forced to do things differently. Since they are running out of room, this may be one of the only options. Sounds like things similar to this are a big part of their culture, so maybe they'll accept it.

humm.......

Thats little strange. That's a little gross. I don't now mabey more people need to be cremated.

I don't agree

I don't think cremating is right. If God is going to raise our bodies on the last day, why reduce them to ash? (Not like God couldn't raise our bodies if they are in ashes) You can be cremated. It's not a sin, but as Christians I think we should bury our dead. In the days of the early church, one of the things that set them apart was that they buried their dead, unlike the pagans that cremated their dead. There is places where you can go where there in rows and rows of ancient boxes of ashes and then a few graves with crosses over them.

Well...

There are probably a lot of diseases in Israel, and they have a big population there, so I'm not really surprised they're doing this. Plenty of countries have run out of space at gravesites before. When the black plague struck London, there were STACKS of dead bodies at graveyards. So yeah, not really sanitary.

@ VAUGHN H

what's the difference of A christian being cremated or being killed in a burning building. on the Last day The Lord will still rase them Up. and what about those burned at the stake. It dose not matter what they do to a body. all it matters is ware the Spirit Gose . Dosent it say that The sea shall give up here Dead? And that ower bodies will tern to dust? So if your ashes are thrown into the sea then they will come back together on the Last day. I Don't care what happens to my body all I know is I'll be in Heaven and that's good enough for me!

ps

I am not saing people shoulden't bury there dead . Just that earthier way it dosen't matter to The Lord.

@Nadia A

Well, it's a statement of faith, a symbol of hope. It shows that you believe that you will be raised up. It sets you apart from the world, those who have no hope, and think that when you die, that's it. Jesus was buried, not cremated and he was raised up. I'm not saying you can't be cremated, you can. But I believe that it is best if you are buried.

@Vaughn H and Nadia A

I don't think it matters.

@ VAUGHN H

anywhey. it doesn't matter. when your dead your dead! you don't care! I don't think we should argue about Burial traditions. i'm just saying if you can't afforded a burial then cremation is not going to stop your body from arsing on the Last day. it's Just fine to be buried or cremated your going to turn to dust anywhey.

@Vaughn

When the Marytar Bladina was killed the Romans didn;t let here body be buried because they thought it would make the family not believe in the resurrection. But it dosen't matter. You can belive what uo like and l'll belive what i like. : )

OK

Agreed. I didn't mean to make it an argument, I was just saying what I thought.

Okkkk.....

23,000 is a lot of grave chambers! But it's also an interesting way of burying the bodies, I can only imagine how bad it will stink when all the bodies are down there!

Yikes!!

That is a lot of dead people! Wow

@ Vaugh

Argument was not the word I should have used it was more like a frendly debate. :-) I respect your views. :-) :-)

umm

I don't think God will raise a bodies i think he going to raise the souls and the soul won't burn away,

not gonna lie

kinda love this debate going on here, very spicy, debates are always fun no mater the topic, i am glade that y'all are having fun, voicing your toughs it is fun to see the other sides, seeing what other people think and believe.

Yes

And I respect yours.

@ Mackenna L

I respect yours. But I don't agree. : )

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