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According to tradition that has been associated with the Holy Books Torah, Bible and Quran, the cave and adjoining field were purchased by Abraham as a burial plot.
The site of the Cave of the Patriarchs is located beneath a Saladin-era mosque, which had been converted from a large rectangular Herodian-era Judean structure.
Then the King, after providing new shrouds, caused the place to be closed once more".
 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.
 And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were in the Bible, and this is the first commercial transaction mentioned.
The next burial in the cave of Machpelah is that of Abraham, who lived "an hundred threescore and fifteen years" – 100 years unto the birth of Isaac, and threescore (60) more years unto the births of Esau and Jacob, with whom he spent his last 15 years.
Archæologists are not certain where the original entrance to the enclosure was located, or even if there was one.
Until the era of the Byzantine Empire, the interior of the enclosure remained exposed to the sky.