These pictures, showing the Biblical shrine of Oholiav in Lebanon, are a further reminder that ‘ Arab’ lands are full of Jewish history. (As with many such sites, this shrine was apparently venerated by Muslims as well as Jews). Oholiav’s shrine was recently the subject of a fascinating thread on the blog Shalom-Salaam. If any readers have any recollections of a pilgrimage to this shrine (at Lag La’Omer) or any other Lebanese holy sites, Point of No Return would be glad to post them.
The pictures show what remains of the shrine (bottom) after it was destroyed by fighting and (top) how the site would look if it were rebuilt.
Oholiav’s shrine at Sojod (Soujud) in southern Lebanon is the presumed burial site for a minor, but significant, biblical character referred to in Exodus. Oholiav (“tent-builder” in Hebrew) was said to have been a carpenter and a builder of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Posters on Shalom-Salaam suggest that the IDF demolished the site. Others point out that the area was already hotly-contested between the South Lebanon Liberation Army (SLA) and Hezbollah and the shrine could have been destroyed, and the village abandoned before the Israeli withdrawal in 2000.
An Israeli poster points out that Sojod is associated with Hadi, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s son, who was killed there in 1997 at the age of 18. ” There were, if Hebrew discussion forums are to be believed, many dreadful battles there”, he writes. ” The two helicopters that crashed in Israel, also in 1997, killing 73 Israeli soldiers on board, was bound for Sojod. There was also, last September, another helicopter story. Shot down this time, and by Hezbollah, over Sojod: a Lebanese Army helicopter in an embarrassing incident that cost its pilot his life. However you look at it Sojod saw a lot of action besides prostration on shrines.”
The Jewish Theological Seminary librarian has this information on the shrine:
According to an article by Zvi Ilan “Towards a History of the Jewish Community in Lebanon in Modern Times” [the article is in Hebrew] in a journal called Kardom (March 1983) vol 26-27, p. 134-144: In Ottoman times Soujud was one of the most important sites of pilgrimage for Jews in southern Lebanon, being, according to tradition, the tomb of Oholiab Ben Ahisamakh. He was a Biblical figure mentioned in Exodus 31:6, 35:34, 36:1-2, and 38:23; he was described as a skilled artist and craftsman (engraver and embroiderer), appointed by God, to help Bezalel construct the Tabernacle.
Additional documentation connecting Sujud with the biblical Oholiab is from a website about the nearby village of Mlikh http://www.mlikh.com/history.html#_ftn29, which cites Dr. Estee Dvorjetski, of the University of Haifa [email protected] as verifying the connection between Sujud and Oholiab Ben Ahisamakh.
You may have noted that various sources have spelled the site differently: Sajad, Soujud, Sijud. We are assuming that these differences are due to differences in local dialect, and the passage of time.We have not found reference to Sajad or Soujud in current gazetteers or maps, but we have found a location called Sijud (about 22 km north of el-Mutallah ) : map 16 in Atlas of the Historical Geography of the Holy Land, edited by George Adam Smith (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1915). Nineteenth century travelers to the Holy Land, who have chronicled their journeys, have also mentioned this place: Edward Robinson and Eli Smith, in Later Biblical Researches in Palestine and the Adjacent Regions: A Journal of Travels in the Year 1852 (Boston, Crocker & Brewster, 1856), p. 44 mention a wely called Neby Sijud [neby means prophet in both Hebrew and Arabic].
William M. Thomson, a missionary, mentioned that local Jews sometimes make pilgrimages to the shrine of Sijud; now  the location is the tomb of a Moslem saint (The Land and the Book, or Biblical Illustrations Drawn from the Manners and Customs, the Scenes and Scenery of the Holy Land, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1886, p. 168)
We have read many such travelers chronicles, and these two excerpts are quite typical.
A contemporary explanation of the term “wely” [also spelled weli] can be found in Karl Baedeker’s Palestine and Syria: Handbook for Travelers (1906). In short, it is the tomb of a saint, or holy man, held in veneration by the local population. “In Syria, almost every village has its weli, venerated alike by Moslems, Christians and Jews.” p. lxxiv. [At the time this was published, Syria referred to what is now Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel, as well as Syria].
Other Biblical figures reportedly buried in Lebanon are Job (Ayyub to Muslims). Job has a tomb in the Druze Shouf Mountains of Lebanon, but other tombs are claimed for him in Oman, Yemen and Turkey.
The tomb of Zebulun is located in Sidon, Lebanon. Towards the end of the month of Iyyar, Jews from all corners of Palestine would make a pilgrimage to this tomb. Zebulun was the sixth son of Jacob and Leah and the Prince of the Israelite tribe of Zebulun.
The tomb of the prophet Zephania is located more to the south closer to the Lebanon-Israel border. It is said to be atop an inaccessible mountain. It can be seen from afar but cannot be reached.
The tomb of Job in the Druze Chouf District, Lebanon. Another tradition locates it at Salalah, Oman