Khalil or Halil (Arabic: خليل ) means friend. It is a common male first name in the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and South Asia. It is also a common surname having origins in the Middle East (largely concentrated in Arabia).
Khalil is a common last name for those of Arab descent.
Hebron (Arabic: الخليل al-Ḫalīl; Hebrew: חֶבְרוֹן , Standard Hebrew: Ḥevron, Tiberian: Ḥeḇrôn), is located in the southern West Bank, 30 km (19 mi) south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters (3,050 ft) above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter. The city is most notable for containing the traditional burial site of the biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs and is therefore considered the second-holiest city in Judaism after Jerusalem. The city is also venerated by Muslims for its association with Abraham and was traditonally viewed as one of the "four holy cities of Islam."
Hebron is a busy hub of West Bank trade, responsible for roughly a third of the area's gross domestic product, largely due to the sale of marble from quarries. It is locally well-known for its grapes, figs, limestone, pottery workshops and glassblowing factories, and is the location of the major dairy product manufacturer, al-Junaidi. The old city of Hebron is characterized by narrow, winding streets, flat-roofed stone houses, and old bazaars. The city is home to Hebron University and the Palestine Polytechnic University.
The name "Hebron" traces back to two Semitic roots, which coalesce in the form ḥbr, having reflexes in Hebrew, Amorite and Arabic, and denoting a range of meanings from "colleague", "unite", "friend" or "to be noisy". In the proper name Hebron, the sense may be alliance. In Arabic, Ibrahim al-Khalil (إبراهيم الخليل) means "Abraham the friend", according to Islamic teaching signifying that, God chose Abraham as his friend.
Hebron was originally a Canaanite royal city before it became one of the principal centers of the Tribe of Judah and one of the six traditional cities of refuge.The earliest references to Hebron are found in the Hebrew Bible, where the city is shown to change from being under Hittite control during the time of Abraham (Gen. 23) to falling under Canaanite ownership five hundred years later, during the time of the Israelite conquest of Canaan (Joshua 10:5,6). Archaeological excavations reveal traces of strong fortifications dated to the Early Bronze Age. The city was destroyed in a conflagration, and resettled in the late Middle Bronze Age. It is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as being the site of Abraham's purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs from the Hittites. In settling here, Abraham made his first covenant, an alliance with two local Amorite clans who became his ba’alei brit or masters of the covenant. The Abrahamic traditions associated with Hebron are nomadic, and may also reflect a Kenite element, since the nomadic Kenites are said to have long occupied the city, and Heber is the name for a Kenite clan. Hebron is also mentioned there as being formerly called Kirjath-arba, or "city of four", possibly referring to the four pairs or couples who were buried there (see above) or four hamlets, or four hills, before being conquered by Caleb and the IsraelitesLater, the town itself, with some contiguous pasture land, was granted to the Levites of the clan of Kohath, while the fields of the city, as well as its surrounding villages were assigned to Caleb. King David reigned from Hebron for over seven years. Initially as a vassal of the Philistines and anointed by the men of Judah, while he gradually extended his authority over a wider area, until he was able to incorporate the remnants of Saul’s kingdom with the capture of Jerusalem, where he was subsequently anointed king of the Kingdom of Israel. Hebron continued to constitute an important local economic centre, given its strategic position along trading routes, but, as is shown by the discovery of seals with the inscription lmlk Hebron (to the king. Hebron), it remained administratively and politically dependent on Jerusalem.
After the destruction of the First Temple, most of the Jewish inhabitants of Hebron were exiled, and according to the conventional view, their place was taken by Edomites in about 587 BCE. Some Jews appear to have lived there after the return from the Babylonian exile, however. This Idumean town was in turn destroyed by Judah Maccabee in 167 BCE.Herod the Great built the wall which still surrounds the Cave of the Patriarchs. During the first war against the Romans, Hebron was conquered by Simon Bar Giora, a Sicarii leader, and burnt down by Vespasian's officer Cerealis. After the defeat of Simon bar Kokhba in 135 CE, innumerable Jewish captives were sold into slavery at Hebron's Terebinth slave-market. Eventually it became part of the Byzantine Empire. Byzantine emperor Justinian I erected a Christian church over the Cave of Machpelah in the 6th century CE which was later destroyed by the Sassanid general Shahrbaraz in 614 when Khosrau II's armies besieged and took Jerusalem.
Hebron was one of the last cities of Palestine to fall to the Islamic invasion in the 7th century. The Rashidun Caliphate established rule over Hebron without resistance in 638, and converted the Byzantine church at the site of Abraham's tomb into a mosque. Trade greatly expanded, in particular with Bedouins in the Negev and the population to the east of the Dead Sea. The Jerusalem geographer al-Muqaddasi, writing in 985 described the town as:
Habra (Hebron) is the village of Abraham al-Khalil (the Friend of God)...Within it is a strong fortress...being of enormous squared stones. In the middle of this stands a dome of stone, built in Islamic times, over the sepulchre of Abraham. The tomb of Isaac lies forward, in the main building of the mosque, the tomb of Jacob to the rear; facing each prophet lies his wife. The enclosure has been converted into a mosque, and built around it are rest houses for the pilgrims, so that they adjoin the main edifice on all sides. A small water conduit has been conducted to them. All the countryside around this town for about half a stage has villages in every direction, with vineyards and grounds producing grapes and apples called Jabal Nahra...being fruit of unsurpassed excellence...Much of this fruit is dried, and sent to Egypt. In Hebron is a public guest house continuously open, with a cook, a baker and servants in regular attendance. These offer a dish of lentils and olive oil to every poor person who arrives, and it is set before the rich, too, should they wish to partake. Most men express the opinion this is a continuation of the guest house of Abraham, however, it is, in fact from the bequest of [the sahaba (companion) of the prophet Muhammad] Tamim-al Dari and others.... The Amir of Khurasan...has assigned to this charity one thousand dirhams yearly, ...al-Shar al-Adil bestowed on it a substantial bequest. At present time I do not know in all the realm of al-Islam any house of hospitality and charity more excellent than this one.
Tamim al-Dari, before converting to Islam, lived in southern Palestine. The prophet Muhammad arranged for Hebron, Beit Einun and surrounding villages to be a part of al-Dari's domain; this was implemented during Umar's reign as caliph. According to the arrangement, al-Dari and his descendants were only permitted to tax the residents for their land and the waqf of the Ibrahimi Mosque was entrusted to them.
The custom, known as the 'table of Abraham' (simāt al-khalil), was similar to the one established by the Fatimids, and in Hebron's version, it found its most famous expression. The Persian traveller Nasir-i-Khusraw who visited Hebron in 1047 records in his Safarnama that
"... this Sanctuary has belonging to it very many villages that provide revenues for pious purposes. At one of these villages is a spring, where water flows out from under a stone, but in no great abundance; and it is conducted by a channel, cut in the ground, to a place outside the town (of Hebron), where they have constructed a covered tank for collecting the water...The Sanctuary (Mashad), stands on the southern border of the town....it is enclosed by four walls. The Mihrab (or niche) and the Maksurah (or enclosed space for Friday-prayers) stand in the width of the building (at the south end). In the Maksurah are many fine Mihrabs. He further recorded that "They grow at Hebron for the most part barley, wheat being rare, but olives are in abundance. The [visitors] are given bread and olives. There are very many mills here, worked by oxen and mules, that all day long grind the flour, and further, there are slave-girls who, during the whole day are baking bread. The loaves are [about three pounds] and to every persons who arrives they give daily a loaf of bread, and a dish of lentils cooked in olive-oil, also some raisins....there are some days when as many as five hundred pilgrims arrive, to each of whom this hospitality is offered."
The Caliphate lasted in the area, which was predominantly populated by peasants of various Christian persuasions, until 1099, when the Christian Crusader Godfrey de Bouillon took Hebron and renamed it "Castellion Saint Abraham".He then gave Hebron to Gerard of Avesnes as the fief of Saint Abraham. Gerard of Avesnes was a knight from Hainault held hostage at Arsuf, north of Jaffa, who had been wounded by Godfrey's own forces during the siege of the port, and later returned by the Muslims to Godfrey as a token of good will. As a Frankish garrison of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, soon governed by Raymon, Prince of Galilee, its defence was precarious, being 'little more than an island in a Moslem ocean'. The Crusaders converted the mosque and the synagogue into a church and expelled Jews from living there. In 1106, an Egyptian campaign thrust into southern Palestine and almost succeeded in wresting back Hebron in 1107 from the crusaders from Baldwin I of Jerusalem, who personally led the counter-charge to beat the Muslim forces off.
In the year 1113 during the reign of Baldwin II of Jerusalem, then, according to Ali of Herat (writing in 1173), a certain part over the cave of Abraham had given way, and "a number of Franks had made their entrance therein". And they discovered "(the bodies) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", "their shrouds having fallen to pieces, lying propped up against a wall...Then the King, after providing new shrouds, caused the place to be closed once more". Similar information is given in Ibn at Athir's Chronicle under the year 1119; "In this year was opened the tomb of Abraham, and those of his two sons Isaac and Jacob ...Many people saw the Patriarch. Their limbs had nowise been disturbed, and beside them were placed lamps of gold and of silver." The Damascene nobleman and historian Ibn al-Qalanisi in his chronicle also alludes at this time to the discovery of relics purported to be those of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, a discovery which excited eager curiosity among all three communities in Palestine, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian.
Towards the end of the period of Crusader rule, in 1166 Maimonides visited Hebron, which he apparently thought lay east of Jerusalem, and wrote,
'On Sunday, 9 Marheshvan (17 October), I left Jerusalem for Hebron to kiss the tombs of my ancestors in the Cave. On that day, I stood in the cave and prayed, praise be to God, (in gratitude) for everything'.
In 1167 the episcopal see of Hebron was created along with that of Kerak and Sebastia (the tomb of John the Baptist).
In 1170, Benjamin of Tudela visited the city, which he called by its Frankish name, St.Abram de Bron. He reported:
Here there is the great church called St. Abram, and this was a Jewish place of worship at the time of the Mohammedan rule, but the Gentiles have erected there six tombs, respectively called those of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah. The custodians tell the pilgrims that these are the tombs of the Patriarchs, for which information the pilgrims give them money. If a Jew comes, however, and gives a special reward, the custodian of the cave opens unto him a gate of iron, which was constructed by our forefathers, and then he is able to descend below by means of steps, holding a lighted candle in his hand. He then reaches a cave, in which nothing is to be found, and a cave beyond, which is likewise empty, but when he reaches the third cave behold there are six sepulchres, those of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, respectively facing those of Sarah, Rebekah and Leah.
The Kurdish Muslim Saladin took Hebron in 1187, and changed the name of the city back to Al-Khalil. A Kurdish quarter still existed in the town during the early period of Ottoman rule. Richard the Lionheart subsequently took the city soon after. Richard of Cornwall, brought from England to settle the dangerous feuding between Templars and Hospitallers, whose rivalry imperiled the treaty guaranteeing regional stability stipulated with the Egyptian Sultan As-Salih Ayyub, managed to impose peace on the area. But soon after his departure, feuding broke out and in 1241 the Templars mounted a damaging raid on what was, by now, Muslim Hebron, in violation of agreements.
In 1260, Sultan Baibars established Mamluk rule. The minarets were built onto the structure of the Cave of Machpelah/Ibrahami Mosque at that time. Six years later, while on pilgrimage to Hebron, Baibars promulgated an edict forbidding Christians and Jews from entering the sanctuary, and the climate became less tolerant of Jews and Christians than it had been under the prior Ayyubid rule. The edict for the exclusion of Christians and Jews was not strictly enforced until the middle of the 14 Century and by 1490 not even Muslims were permitted to enter the underground caverns.
The mill at Artas was built in 1307 where the profits from its income were dedicated to the Hospital in Hebron.
Many visitors wrote about Hebron over the next two centuries, among them Nachmanides (1270), Ishtori HaParchi (1322),and Rabbi Meshulam from Volterra (1481). HaParchi in 1322 does not record any Jews in Hebron. Other minute descriptions of Hebron were recorded in Stephen von Gumpenberg’s Journal (1449), Felix Fabri (1483) and by Mejr ed-Din It was in this period, also, that the Mamluk Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa'it Bay revived the old custom of the Hebron table of Abraham, and exported it as a model for his own madrasa in Medina.This became an immense charitable establishment near the Haram, distributing daily some 1,200 loaves of bread to travellers of all faiths.
The expansion the Ottoman Empire along the southern Mediterranean coast under sultan Selim I coincided with the Reyes Católicos (Catholic Monarchs) establishing Inquisition commissions. The fear engendered during the Inquisitions caused a migration of Conversos, (Marranos and Moriscos) and Sephardi Jews into Ottoman provinces, ending the centuries of the Iberian convivencia. The migrants initially settled in Constantinople, Salonika, Sarajevo, Sofia and Anatolia and could now freely travel throughout the territories that had fallen under Turkish administration enabling the sparse Jewish population of Hebron to grow. With the Ottoman occupation of the Holy Land, a slow influx of Jews performing aliyah took place. By 1523, a Karaite community, consisting of 10 families, is registered as living in Hebron. In 1540 Rabbi Malkiel Ashkenazi bought a courtyard (El Cortijo) and established the Sephardi Abraham Avinu Synagogue. This structure was restored in 1738 and enlarged in 1864, but the community was small. Decades later, it was still difficult to form a minyan, or quorum of ten, for prayer.The congregation also suffered from heavy debts, almost quadrupling from 1717 to 1729. However, in 1807, a 5-dunam (5,000 m²) plot was purchased, where Hebron's wholesale market stands today.
During the Ottoman period, the dilapidated state of the patriarchs' tombs was restored to a semblance of sumptuous dignity. Ali Bey, one of the few foreigners to gain access, reported in 1807 that,
'all the sepulchres of the patriarchs are covered with rich carpets of green silk, magnificently embroidered with gold; those of the wives are red, embroidered in like manner. The sultans of Constantinople furnish these carpets, which are renewed from time to time. Ali Bey counted nine, one over the other, upon the sepulchre of Abraham.'
Hebron also became known throughout the Arab world for its glass production, and the industry is mentioned in the books of 19th century Western travellers to Palestine. For example, Ulrich Jasper Seetzen noted during his travels in Palestine in 1808-09 that 150 persons were employed in the glass industry in Hebron,while later, in 1844, Robert Sears wrote that Hebron's population of 400 Arab families "manufactured glass lamps, which are exported to Egypt. Provisions are abundant, and there is a considerable number of shops."
Early 19th century travellers also remarked on Hebron's flourishing agriculture. Apart from glassware, it was a major exporter of dibsé, grape sugar, from the famous Dabookeh grapestock characteristic of Hebron. Northern Hebron in the mid-19th century (1850's)
In 1823, the Lubavitcher Hasidic movement established a community in Hebron.
An estimated 750 Muslims from Hebron had been drafted as soldiers, and some 500 of them were killed. In response Qasim al-Ahmad, nahiya (clan leader) of Jamma'in near Nablus, raised the area now known as the West bank in the Palestinian Arab revolt of 1834. Hebron, headed by its nazir Abd ar-Rahman Amr, took part in the rebellion and suffered badly in Ibrahim Pasha's campaign to crush the uprising. The town was invested and when the defences of the town fell on 4 August it was sacked by Ibrahim Pasha's army. Most of the Muslim population managed to flee beforehand to the hills. The Jews however remained, and during the general pillage of the town five of them were killed.
In 1835, Mr Fisk, an American missionary, visited Hebron. He estimated that there about 400 Arab and 120 Jewish families; the Jewish population having significantly dropped since the 1834 rebellion.
In 1838, Hebron had an estimated 1,500 taxable Muslim households, in addition to some 240 Jews, 41 of whom were tax-payers. 200 Jews and one Christian household were under 'European protections'. The total population was estimated at 10,000. At the time the population of Hebron was given according to the number of taxpayers, i.e., male heads of households who owned even a very small shop or piece of land.
On July 25, 1834 Ibrahim Pasha's Arab army attacked the Jews of Hebron.
When the Government of Ibrahim Pasha fell in 1841, the local clan-head Abd ar-Rahman Amr once again resumed the reins of power as the Sheik of Hebron. Due to his extortionate demands for cash from the local population, most of the Jewish population fled to Jerusalem. In 1846 the Ottoman Governor-in-chief of Jerusalem (serasker), Kıbrıslı Mehmed Emin Pasha, waged a campaign to subdue rebellious sheiks in the Hebron area, and while doing so, allowed his troops to sack the town. Though it was widely rumoured that he secretly protected Abd ar-Rahman, the latter was deported together with other local leaders (such as Muslih al-'Azza of Bayt Jibrin), but he managed to return to the area in 1848. By 1850, Hebron had grown to the point where it was considered a large village or small town.The Jewish population consisted of 60 Sephardi families and a 30-year old Ashkenazi community of 50 families.
In 1855, the newly appointed Ottoman pasha ("governor") of the sanjak ("district") of Jerusalem, Kamil Pasha, attempted to subdue the rebellion in the Hebron region. Kamil and his army marched towards Hebron in July 1855, with representatives from the English, French and other Western consulates as witnesses. After crushing all opposition, Kamil appointed Salama Amr, the brother and strong rival of Abd al Rachman, as nazir of the Hebron region. After this relative quiet reigned in the town for the next 4 years.Hungarian Jews of the Karlin Hasidic court settled in another part of the city in 1866. Arab-Jewish relations were good, and Alter Rivlin, who spoke Arabic and Syrian-Aramaic, was appointed Jewish representative to the city council. From 1874 the Hebron district as part of the Sanjak of Jerusalem was administered directly from Istanbul.
Late in the 19th century the production of Hebron glass declined due to competition from imported European glass-ware, however, the products of Hebron continued to be sold, particularly among the poorer populace and travelling Jewish traders from the city. At the World Fair of 1873 in Vienna, Hebron was represented with glass ornaments. A report from the French consul in 1886 suggests that glass-making remained an important source of income for Hebron: Four factories were making 60,000 francs yearly.
The Jewish community was under French protection until 1914. Hebron was highly conservative in its religious outlook, with a strong tradition of hostility to Jews.