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Oaks of Mamre, Hebron

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Oaks of Mamre, Hebron
Place of Covenant

 

Location

 

1. Located within Hebron, Mamre is set in the Judean Mountains about 20 miles (32 km.) south of Jerusalem.

 

2. It stands 3,000 feet (914 m.) above sea level, making it the highest city in Israel.

 

3. While there have been tensions in the past between Israelis and Arabs, the Oaks of Mamre are protected by Israeli forces, and around 250,000 tourists visit Hebron and this area annually. 

 

Historical Background

 

1. This site of Mamre, known as Ramet Haram Al-Khalil, which means "The Height of the Sanctuary of the Friend," was first excavated from 1926 to 1928.

2. There have been discovered 5 different layers of construction at this site:

 

1. Time of Abraham (2050 BC) Bronze Age pottery during the time of Abraham was discovered at this site which confirms that it was inhabited during the time of Abraham.

 

2. Time of the Kingdom of Israel (1000-586 BC)

 

3. Time of Herod the Great/Early Roman Period (63 BC to 70 AD)

 

4. Time of Constantine & the Byzantine Period (324-638 AD)

 

5. Time of Islamic Period (638 AD and beyond

 

3. The evidence that this is the place where Abraham met with God is extremely strong. With this being the case, this site is holy ground because God was here and met face to face with Abraham.

 

Places of Interest

 

1. Abraham's Altar

 

2. Hole in the Bedrock 1 (Oak Tree Location)

 

3. Hole in the Bedrock 2 (Oak Tree Location)

In the rocky terrain of the Middle East, trees will grow up through bedrock if they have sufficient water. This is evidenced by the large holes found at this site. A nearby spring at the site would have provided all the water these great trees would have needed to grow and flourish in the rocky soil at this site.

 

4. Spring

5. Channel

This was used in pagan times for draining the blood from the altar.

 

5. Kingdom of Israel Structures

There were unearthed two square structures with a passage between them. These are believed to be part of a gate leading into a walled structure around this site. This evidence gives further weight that this site was holy and commemorated.

 

6. Roman Wall Construction from Herod the Great

 

7. Byzantine Basilica Building

 

8. Islamic Building Walls

 

Mamre in the Bible (Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant)

 

1. God's covenant with Abraham (Abram) begins with a call to leave his country and relatives and go to the land of Israel. The first part of the covenant included the land of Israel (Canaan), and that through Abraham all the families of the earth would be blessed.
Genesis 12:1-4: Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; 2 And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing; 3 And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” 4 So Abram went away as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 

 

2. Abraham obeyed God and went to the land of Israel, known at that time as Canaan.
Genesis 12:5-9: Abram took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the people which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; so they came to the land of Canaan. 6 Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanites were in the land at that time. 

 

3. God confirms His covenant with Abraham that He would give all the land of Israel.
Genesis 12:7-8: And the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. 8 Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. 

 

4. From Bethel, Abraham traveled south to the Negev area, then lived in Egypt for a while.
Genesis 12:9-10: Then Abram journeyed on, continuing toward the Negev. 10 Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a time, because the famine was severe in the land.

 

5. When the famine was over, Abraham moved back to the Negev.  After Lot and Abraham separated, because of the size of their herds of livestock, Abraham settled and lived in the place called, "The Oaks of Mamre."  This would be where Abraham first established his dwelling place in Israel. The Negev is the southern area of Israel.
Genesis 13:1: So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him.

Genesis 13:18: Then Abram moved his tent and came and lived by the oaks (great trees) of Mamre, which are in Hebron; and there he built an altar to the Lord. 

 

6. It was at the oaks, or great trees of Mamre, that God's covenant with Abraham, which would affect the entire world, would be carried out. It's an amazing and unique event that is the most important covenant in the Bible. The covenant established that all humanity would be saved by grace through faith.
Genesis 15:1-6: After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Abram also said, “Since You have given me no son, one who has been born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He credited it to him as righteousness

God reaffirms this truth in the New Testament in Galatians 3:6-11:  Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. 7 Therefore, recognize that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. 10 For all who are of works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all the things written in the book of the Law, to do them.” 11 Now, that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “the righteous one will live by faith.”

 

7. God ratifies the covenant with Abraham at Mamre. 
Genesis 15:7-16: And He said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.” 8 But he said, “Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?” 9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. 11 And birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. 12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. 16 Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the wrongdoing of the Amorite is not yet complete.” 

 

8. Interestingly, instead of both parties walking through the midst of the dead animals, only God walks through them. In ancient times, walking through the animals ratified a covenant and meant that if any party broke the agreement, then they would wind up like the dead animals. Just God walked through the dead animal because the covenant was based upon God's faithfulness and not subject to mankind's efforts.
Genesis 15:17-21: Now it came about, when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, a smoking oven and a flaming torch appeared which passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 the land of the Kenite, the Kenizzite, the Kadmonite, 20 the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Girgashite, and the Jebusite.”

 

9. In an attempt to fulfill God's promise of having a son, Sarah's handmaiden, Hagar, gave birth to Ismael at the Oaks of Mamre.
Genesis 16:15-16: So Hagar bore a son to Abram; and Abram named his son, to whom Hagar gave birth, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.

 

10. God repeats and affirms His covenant with Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre and institutes circumcision as a mark of the covenant.
Genesis 17:1-10: Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless. 2 I will make My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall you be named Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land where you live as a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” 9 God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.

 

11. God appeared to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre in the form of three angels and confirmed the promise of a son from Abraham and Sarah.
Genesis 18:1-3: Now the Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 When he raised his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed down to the ground, 3 and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. 

 

12. From Mamre, God pronounced the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to Abraham because of their extreme wickedness.
Genesis 18:16-21: Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. 17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 since Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? 19 For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” 20 And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done entirely as the outcry, which has come to Me indicates; and if not, I will know.”

 

13. From Mamre, Abraham went to look down upon the Jordan Valley and witness the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding area.
Genesis 19:27-29: Now Abraham got up early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord; 28 and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the surrounding area; and behold, he saw the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. 29 So it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the surrounding area, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the destruction, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.

 

14. Later Abraham moved a little farther south and lived in Beersheba. It was here, twenty-five years after the initial promise to Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son, Isaac was born.
Genesis 21:1-2: Then the Lord took note of Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised. 2 So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham named his son who was born to him, the son whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. 

 
Faith Lesson from the Oaks of Mamre & Abraham

 

1. The Abrahamic Covenant establishes that every person is saved by grace through faith, regardless of whether they lived in the Old Testament period or the New Testament period and beyond.

 

2. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). In the Old Testament, faith was expressed by believing in God, and then later, when the Law was given at Mt. Sinai, by believing and obeying the sacrificial system. In the New Testament and beyond, faith is expressed in believing in Christ and obeying Him. 

 

3. What about us? Do we believe in Jesus and have we placed our faith in Him for our salvation?

 

4. Like Abraham, do we believe in the promises of God and the hope of eternal life in heaven with Him? 

 

5. Do we believe it's worth it to love and follow Christ?

 

6. Do we believe the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18)?

 

7. Do we believe that our light and momentary affliction is working in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17)?

 

8. Like Abraham, do we hold on to hope even though things aren't working out the way we think they should and hoped they would? 

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