|Subject: [Hangout-NYLXS] Jewish Archeology around Rosh Hashona
Elonei Mamre Archaeological Site and Herod's Walls
Ancient walls hearken back to a time when Hebron and its outskirts were
a major commercial center.
(PHOTO: Hebron spokesperson Noam Arnon at the Elonei Mamre archeological
Elonei Mamre is an ancient archaeological site in Hebron. The walls,
which still stand today, were part of a structure where Jews were sold
as slaves. For generations this site has been associated with the
Biblical Mamre, where Abraham and Sarah lived. However some researchers
believe another archaeological site in Hebron called Nimra, is the
actual site of Abraham's home. Because of the similarity of the names,
Khirbet Nimra, or the Ruin of Nimra, may be the original location. Full
excavations have not been conducted.
Since 1997, the site which today is referred to as Elonei Mamre has been
under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority as a result of the
Hebron Accords. Mostly inaccessible, tourists have a rare opportunities
to visit the ruins of what once was an important central location in the
Nearby is the Eshel Avraham, or Oak of Mamre, a tree which held great
religious significance for many. Today the tree is dry, bare and propped
up by iron beams. Nearby is a Russian church, the last vestige of
Christianity in Hebron.
In Genesis 13:18 it states, "And Abram moved his tent, and came and
dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built there
an altar unto HaShem." The word terebinth refers to a type of tree.
Mamre is later mentioned in Genesis 14:13 staying, "Abram the
Hebrew--now he dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre..." It is from here
that Abram "led forth his trained men, born in his house" to rescue his
nephew Lot from the hands of his kidnappers.
The site is later mentioned in Genesis 18:01, "And HaShem appeared unto
him by the terebinths of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat
of the day." It is here that the three angel came to deliver the news
that he and his wife Sarah were to have a child.
In modern Hebrew culture, the classic song Three Angels is about the
Biblical story with the lyrics referring to Elonei Mamre. The song is
performed by the 1960's group HaGashash HaHiver and composed by the
famous songwriters Yehonatan Geffen and Matti Caspi.
The site is also mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud as one of three sites
where a fair took place. Referred to as Botnah, the sages warned against
attending the fair due to idolatrous rituals that took place there,
performed by pre-Christian groups. The book Abodah Zarah: A Preliminary
Translation and Explanation Talmud of the Land of Israel translated by
Jacob Neusner, 1982 quotes the Jerusalem Talmud, Avodah Zarah 1:4, 39d
in the name of Rabbi Yohanan:
"They prohibited a fair only in the case of one of the character of that
at Botnah. As it has been taught along these same lines in a Tannaitic
tradition. There are three fairs, the fair at Gaza, the fair at Acre,
and the fair at Botnah, and the most debased of the lot of them is the
fair of Botnah."
Today, Eloni Mamre is an impressive ancient site, surrounded by a
massive low stone wall, measuring two-meters-high, 70-by-30-meters. The
location is near "Glass Junction" which was the main entrance to Hebron
and Kiryat Arba for many years until the Hebron Accords. The style and
construction of the walls are similar to that of the Tomb of Machpela
complex, and the remains of the walls of the Temple Mount and Western
Wall in Jerusalem. Researchers assume the walls of Mamre were also
built by King Herod the Great because they use the same Herodian masonry.
After the revolt of the Jewish leader Shimon Bar Kochba against the
Roman occupiers, (132–136 BCE), many Jews were captured by the Romans
and sold into slavery at this site.
(PHOTO: Hebron, including the Constantine church at Mamre cicled in red.
Reproduction of the Madaba Map discovered in Saint George Church in
Madaba, Jordan. Credit: Bernard Gagnon / Wiki Commons.)
Elonei Mamre is one of four holy sites that are currently inaccessible,
except in rare circumstances. Section 6 of the 1997 Hebron Accords reads
Paragraphs 2 and 3(a) of Article 32 of Appendix 1 to Annex III of the
Interim Agreement will be applicable to the following Holy Sites in Area
1. The Cave of Othniel Ben Knaz/El-Khalil;
2. Elonei Mamre/Haram Er-Rameh;
3. Eshel Avraham/Balotat Ibrahim; and
4. Maayan Sarah/Ein Sarah.
The Palestinian Police will be responsible for the protection of the
above Jewish Holy Sites. Without derogating from the above
responsibility of the Palestinian Police, visits to the above Holy Sites
by worshipers or other visitors shall be accompanied by a Joint Mobile
Unit, which will ensure free, unimpeded and secure access to the Holy
Sites, as well as their peaceful use.
Many travelers over the years have mentioned visiting the site, such as
Rabbi Petachia of Ratisbon. He passed away in 1217, leading scholars to
believe his travels took place sometime between 1170 and 1180.
The English translation of Travels of Petachia of Ratisbon was published
in London in 1856. The following is an excerpt:
"Among the oaks of Mamre, at a distance from there, dwelled an old man,
who was near death when Rabbi Petachia arrived there, and he told his
son to show Rabbi Petachia the tree under which the angels rested. He
also showed him a fine olive tree cleft into three parts with a stone in
the middle. They have a tradition that when the angels sat down the tree
was cleft into three parts each resting under one tree whilst sitting on
the stone . The fruits of the tree are very sweet. By the tree is the
well of Sarah; its waters are clear and sweet. By the well is the tent
of Sarah. Close by Mamre is a plain and on the other side there are
about a hundred cubits from the well of Sarah to the well of Abraham its
water is very agreeable. They also showed him a stone of twenty-eight
cubits, upon which Abraham, our father, was circumcised." Pages 65-67.
The medieval Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela (1130 - 1173) wrote:
"Beyond the field of Machpelah is the house of Abraham; there is a well
in front of the house, but out of reverence for the Patriarch Abraham no
one is allowed to build in the neighbourhood."
- The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela: Travels in the Middle Ages p.42
The 1537 book Yihus HaAvot also describes the oak of Abraham as a holy
site for the Jewish community. The 1866 book The Comparative Geography
of Palestine and the Sinaitic Peninsula by Carl Ritter translates some
of those references to the Oak of Mamre and the stone of Abraham's
circumcision. Page 300 states,
"The anonymous Jewish author of the Jichus ha-Abot [usually pronounced
Yichus HaAvot], written in 1537, seems to have taken the ground that
this place is correctly supposed to have been the site of Abraham's
tent. After describing the sepulchres of Hebron in which the patriarchs
were buried, he speaks of the place where Jesse the father of David was
interred, outside of the city, and passes to speak of the graves of
other Israelites to whom he wishes peace. He then goes on to say, that
in the neighbourhood of the city, between the vineyards, are the oaks of
Mamre, where Abraham pitched his tent, and the stone on which he sat
during the circumcision. This stone, which was regarded as a sacred
memorial of the covenant with the Jews (Gen. xvii. 8, 9, 23-27), was
visited three hundred years earlier (1210) by the Jewish pilgrim Samuel
bar Simson, who tells us that it was held in great reverence by the
Arabs, i.e. the Ishmaelites. Benjamin of Tudela visited the place in
1160, but his description is very indefinite."
For full article on the Oak on Mamre click here: Oak of Mamre: Is
Abraham's Oak Israel's Oldest Tree?
* Ancient Hebron Site, Closed to Jews Since 1999, Greets Visitors
* A Rare Visit Allonei Mamre (news article with numerous photos)
* Mamre and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (includes artistic reconstruction)
* Shavei Hevron page on Elonei Mamre (with photos)
* Mamre in Hebron by John Schou, M.D. (descibes PA takeover)
* Jewish Encyclopedia article on Abraham's Oak
* Jewish Group Finds Ancient Site of Abraham's Home Still Perserved
* The Sacred Tree: Tree Worship in Ancient Israel
* Full Length Hebrew article on Eshel Avraham and Elonei Mamre
* Byzantine Mamre (discusses if Nimra was actual Biblical Mamre)
* Looking for Mamre (maps and pictures, debates actual location)
* Excavations of Jebel Nimra
* Mamre: Archaeological Site in the Middle of Hebron
To arrange a guided tour of Hebron contact us:
United States contact info:
1760 Ocean Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230
In Israel contact the offices of the Jewish Community of Hebron at:
* Oak of Mamre: Is Abraham's Oak Israel's Oldest Tree?
* This Date in History: Harry Potter Killed on Road to Hebron
* Was the Now Violent Mahamra Clan of Yatta Once Jewish?
How Shimon Peres Helped Restore Hebron28.9.16
Hebron in the Zohar27.9.16
Adam and Eve in Hebron26.9.16
So many immigrant groups have swept through our town
that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological
proportions in the mind of the world - RI Safir 1998
DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002
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