Tomb of Benei Hezir

The Tomb of Benei Hezir (Hebrew: קבר בני חזיר), previously known as the Tomb of Saint James, is the oldest of four monumental rock-cut tombs that stand in the Kidron Valley, adjacent to the Tomb of Zechariah and a few meters from the Tomb of Absalom. It dates to the period of the Second Temple. It is a complex of burial caves. The tomb was originally accessed from a single rock-cut stairwell which descends to the tomb from the north. At a later period an additional entrance was created by quarrying a tunnel from the courtyard of the monument known as "the Tomb of Zechariah". This is also the contemporary entrance to the burial complex.

 The inscription listing who are berried here Detail of the surviving (southern) half of the loggia 1870 photo by Felix Bonfils showing the Tomb of Benei Hezir to the left of the Tomb of Zechariah.

The tomb dates to the second century BCE, the Hellenistic period and the time of the Hasmonean monarchy in Jewish history. Architecturally the so-called Tomb of Zechariah postdates the complex, and the Tomb of Absalom is considered to have been erected even later. The tomb is effectively a burial cave dug into the cliff. It contains a Hebrew inscription, which makes it clear that this was the burial site of a priestly family called Benei Hezir, lit. "sons [descendants] of Hezir". The inscription reads:

זה הקבר והנפש שלאלעזר חניה יועזר יהודה שמעון יוחנן בני יוסף בן עובד יוסף ואלעזר בני חניה כהנים מבני חזיר — This is the grave and the Nefesh (burial monument) of Eliezer Hania Yoazar Yehuda Shimon Yochanan Benei (sons of) Yosef Ben (son of) Oved Yosef and Elazar Benei (sons of) Hania, Kohanim of the Hezir family.

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