Glimpses of Israel - Hebron

by Joseph Hunting

Hebron is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places on earth. In the book of Genesis it was also called Kiriath Arba and Mamre. The Bible records that Sarah died there and that Abraham purchased a field from Ephron the Hittite wherein was a suitable cave to bury Sarah. Also in this cave are buried Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebekah and Leah.

David was anointed King of Israel in Hebron after the death of Saul. He reigned there for seven years.

During the period of the second Temple, probably during the reign of Herod the Great, an imposing building was erected over the burial tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. The great stones which formed the lower courses of the building are evident in the structure standing today. Over the centuries the Crusaders and Byzantines added sections to the original building.

Hebron is located high in the Judean hill country approximately twenty miles south of Jerusalem and is populated by both Jews and Arabs, both claiming Abraham as their Patriarch.

It was the mountain claimed by Caleb as his inheritance for his faithfulness in wholly following the Lord. At that time Hebron was inhabited by giants, but undaunted Caleb declared: "Lo, this day I am fourscore and five years old ... Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said." (Joshua 14:10-12).

Much Biblical history has unfolded in and round Hebron. Nearby is the pool known as Birket es-Sultan (the pool of the Sultan), almost certainly the pool where David slew the murderers of Ish-bosheth, Saul's son. "And David commanded his young men and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them over the pool in Hebron." (2 Samuel 4:12).

Surrounding Hebron these days the hill district has vineyards and groves of fig and olive. Hebron itself is the most highly situated of all the towns of the land of Israel, being 2,800 feet above sea level.