KEVER YOSEF IN ANCIENT TIMES
Aside from the resting place of our 3 Fathers and 4 Mothers, Kever Yosef is the only burial site described in detail in Scriptures.
Kever Yosef is situated in the portion of the field bought by Jacob, facing the city of Shechem.
During the British mandate, the hill site was excavated. The wall surrounding Shechem was dated to 4,000 years back. Some amazing remnants of the Canaanite and the Hebrew periods were uncovered.
Kever Yosef, in the portion of the field, is located about one hundred meters only, east of the remnants of the great east gate of the Canaanite city of Shechem, also called “the Face of the City”.
Yehoshua Bin Nun and the children of Israel lay Yosef to rest in the portion of the field the day they entered Eretz Israel. That very day, the 10th of Nissan of the year 2489, Yehoshua lead the ceremony of the Blessing and the Curse on Mount Grizim and Mount Eival.
For 700 years, until the destruction of the ten tribes, Yosef's descendants cherished and honored the Kever, as it is written “and it was the inheritance of the children of Yosef...”
Later, the Shomronim came up from Kuta in Babylon, and settled in Shechem and Mount Grizim.
The Shomronim took upon themselves the observance of the Torah. They live there till this day, and observe the Hebrew tradition at Kever Yosef.
From the year 1300 till 1900 of the common era, there has been a constant Jewish presence in Shechem.
Until about 100 years ago, the main way to Jerusalem from the Galilee passed close to Kever Yosef.
All Jewish pilgrims used to stop and worship at Kever Yosef.
For the last 2000 years, there has been uninterrupted documentation of Kever Yosef.
KEVER YOSEF IN PRESENT TIME
In 1894, the Ottoman sultan built the present tomb at Kever Yosef, and this, with his own personal money. In 1900, the few surrounding rooms were added, in the honor of the half Jubilee of the sultan. In 1906, the Jewish presence in Shechem dwindled.
In 1957, the site of Kever Yosef was recorded as sacred by the Jordanians authorities. In 1967, the IDF recovered Kever Yosef in the Six Day War, and Jews were able to come back to visit the site.
In 1984, the yeshiva “Od Yosef Chai” opened its doors at the site. In 1994, the Oslo accords promised free access to the Kever, as well as keeping the learning and prayer services running. But, in 1996, during the Western Wall Tunnel riots, Kever Yosef was burnt and six Israeli soldiers were killed nearby.
In 2000, the second intifada broke out. Kever Yosef was abandoned, burnt and utterly destroyed.
In 2004, under the supervision of the IDF, visits to Kever Yosef were renewed. The visits were planned and organized by “Shechem Echad”, “Yesod Olam”, “Lekdoshim asher Baaretz” and Rav Shalom Abergel z”l. In 2008, proper guarding of the site was arranged, and no more desecration occurred.
In 2010, Kever Yosef was renovated. The Tomb with its dome were built anew.
In 2013, Kever Yosef was visited by over 20,000 people.