The Tomb of Yossef Hatzadik is located in a very difficult place in terms of security – just southeast of the city of Nablus and the near the Balata refugee camp.
Joseph’s burial story, as told in the books of Genesis, Exodus and Joshua is unique. Joseph asked that when the People of Israel will be redeemed, hundreds of years later, his bones would be buried in Israel. According to the Midrash it was Moshe himself who carried the coffin during the wandering in the desert. Ultimately Joseph was buried in Shchem which his father, Yaakov Avinu, bequeathed to him, in addition to the inheritance of his sons Ephraim and Manasseh.
The identification of the tomb is very ancient. Early visitors in the Holy Land as far back as the 4th century identified the tomb near Shchem as the grave of Joseph and this tradition continues to this day.
As a result, the tomb was perceived as sacred for Christians and Muslims as well as Jews. After the area was captured during the Six Day War the government decided to leave the management of the place to the Muslim family who ruled there before. In 1982 the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva was established in the compound. Already during the first intifada and many times since the compound was violently attacked. In 1996 six soldiers who tried to protect the compound were murdered. Often the place has been completely desecrated, including arson, trash thrown into the compouns and painting the dome in green.
According to the Oslo Agreements the compound and the road leading to it are considered an Israeli enclave deep inside Palestinian-controlled territory.
Together with the Maarat Hamachpela and Mount Moriah, this plot is the only place in Israel about which it is told in the Bible that they were purchased with money.