Israeli archeologists have uncovered a 1st century cave, which served as a tomb to a family of disciples of Jesus Christ.
The burial cave, carved in the mountainside off the Kidron Valley, contained several coffins, with names engraved on their sides, as well as signs of the cross. These inscriptions identified the cave as the burial vault of the Barsabas family. This family is well known to us, since several of its members are mentioned in the book of Acts. As reported in the Jerusalem Christian Review, December 2000 online edition, the coffins remained buried for nearly 2000 years.
Eminent Jerusalem Historian, Prof. Ory N. Mazar, states that "at least some members of this family were among the very first disciples of Christ."
One of the coffins bore the name "Mary, daughter of Simon." Likely one of the several women named Mary in the New Testament, her father's casket was found nearby bearing four crosses and the name "Shimon Bar-Saba", the Hebrew version of "Simon Barsabas". Another family member, Joseph Barsabas, was nominated, at Peter's request, (Acts 1:23) by the 120 disciples who assembled in Jerusalem after the ascension of Jesus, to become the twelfth member of the "witnesses" who led the church.
Since the death of Judas Iscariot left a void in the number of disciples, Peter explained to the assembly that as "required by scriptures [and] to guide Jesus' faithful" (Acts 1:16), the position must be filled. Joseph Barsabas was one of two who "had accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, to the day that He was received up from us. One of these must become a witness with us to His resurrection." (Acts 1:22)
Peter instructed the disciples that the replacement "witness" must have followed Jesus from the beginning of His ministry, until His ascension to heaven. Joseph Barsabas fulfilled this requirement and was one of two put forth for consideration.
The other candidate, Matthias, was finally chosen. Interestingly, he also may have been a member of the same family. In fact, one of the other coffins in the same cave carries the name "M'T'I'", Hebrew for "Matthias". This could be the tomb of the twelfth disciple after Judas. Another Son of Saba was Judah Barsabas. In Acts (15: 22 & 27) he is mentioned as one who accompanied Paul, Barnabas and Silas on their evangelical mission to Antioch.
Prof. Mazar adds: "the impact of these fascinating discoveries is multiplied when we consider the additional evidence found in the tomb such as coins and artifacts, that clearly show the tomb was hermetically sealed less than a decade after the crucifixion of Christ. This is years before any part of the New Testament was written, proving that the Scriptures are consistent with the archeological evidence." Further details can be found online at the Bramalea Alliance Church site.