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These wheel shaped stones were used in the time of Jesus to discourage grave robbers and allow loved ones to enter to leave customary
precious objects with the deceased in the tomb . The stone was usually located on a slope. A wedge was needed to open it
before the tomb was entered. The stone rolled down upon an inclined track, stones
often weighed as much as a ton. Tomb robbing was not unusual in ancient times.
Striking evidence of this was unearthed in Palestine in the form of an ancient
decree. Written in Greek and dating from about the time of Jesus, it makes tomb robbing a crime punishable by death.
Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great
earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back
the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning,
and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and
became like dead men.
But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know
that you seek Jesus who was crucified. "He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the
Lord lay. "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the
dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him.
Behold, I have told you." (NKJ)
Ironically, the ancient Herod-family tomb in Jerusalem was used to shelter the living during the Arab-Israeli wars in 1948 and 1967.