Glimpses of Israel - Hebron, The West Bank

by Joseph Hunting

Hebron is first mentioned in Scripture under the name of Kiriat Arba and was originally the home of a family of giants called the Anakim. It was also called Mamre and it was here Abraham built an altar to the Lord and subsequently received the promise of the birth of Isaac, (Genesis 13:18 and chapter 18). Later both Isaac and Jacob lived at Hebron, and it was here all three patriarchs and Sarah were buried.

During the conquest of Canaan Joshua conquered Hebron and Caleb reminded him of a promise that Moses had made him forty years earlier. "And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely, the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God." (Joshua 14:9)

Forty is a number that signifies testing and Caleb was required to wait forty years before the promise made to him became a reality. Caleb's response to Joshua is surely an encouragement to all who would possess their possessions even in spite of insurmountable odds. "Now therefore, give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for you heard in that day how that the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so he the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said. And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance." (Joshua 14:12-13)

Centuries later David made his royal residence at Hebron for seven years prior to the capture of Jerusalem from the Jebusites.

A thousand years later the Romans stationed a garrison there and during the Turkish rule in Palestine a mosque was built over the site of the tomb of the Patriarchs. Hebron was the scene of a massacre of Jewish settlers in 1948 during the War of Independence and finally was recaptured by Israelis in the Six Day War of 1967. Oddly enough, the Jewish settlement in Hebron has been called by its original name, Kiriat Arba.