By Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
And Yakov brought Yitzhak to Hebron and Buried Him [There]
In this painting we see a hall very similar to Yitzhak’s Hall in Maarat Hamachpela in features such as the ceiling, the chandeliers, an d of course the monuments for the Patriarchs seen here. The fact that the Patriarchs and Matriarchs that are buried at Maarat Hamachpela are mentioned explicitly within the monuments here is a clear reference that indeed this painting’s main theme is Maarat Hamachpela.
The chandeliers each have four orange-like central “flames”, apparently alluding to the four masculine souls – “ a soul is like a fire”, I.e our Patriarchs, and to the left are yet another set of four flames corresponding to the four feminine figures of Maarat Hamchpela. This matter is significant since our Sages explain the name Kiryat Arba which refers to the four couples which are also hinted in the name Maarat Hamchpela, the doubled/coupled Cave.
We also see the Menora at the center, considered in the Talmud as a sign that the Shechina rests with Israel, and indeed our Sages say that the Shechina rests with our Patriarchs and Matriarchs of Hebron. We see the knobs of the Menora descending from four to three, two , and then one, which may hint to the gradual spelling of God’s Name Adnut. The Arizal says that this gradual spelling going from one letter to four hints to Kiryat Arba – the City of Four. It should also be noted that when the sequence of one to four are summed together they equal ten, a dominant number in Judaism/Kabbalah, hinting to the ten sefirot. The Menora has three throngs for its base, which may hint to the three Patriarchs.
One of the interesting matters of this painting is that it seems that it depicts an internal hall, while at the bottom of the painting it seems that a village, outside, is depicted. This village may hint to Zion, as many of Nachshon’ paintings hint to Jerusalem/Zion in this way.. Indeed Zion is considered a synonym for Hebron in the teachings of the Arizal, who makes a connection between Zion and Hebron, while the term Jerusalem refers to Jerusalem itself.