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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Mamre

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MAMRE. A name found several times in connexion with the history of Abraham. It occurs ( a ) in the expression ‘ terebinths of Mamre ’ in Genesis 13:18; Genesis 18:1 (both J [Note: Jahwist.] ), and Genesis 14:13 (from an independent source) with the addition of ‘the Amorite’; ( b ) in the expression ‘which is before Mamre,’ in descriptions of the cave of Machpelah, or of the field in which it was ( Genesis 23:17; Genesis 23:19; Genesis 25:9; Genesis 49:30; Genesis 50:13 ), and in Genesis 35:27 , where Mamre is mentioned as the place of Isaac’s death; ( c ) in Genesis 14:24 as the name of one of Abraham’s allies, in his expedition for the recovery of Lot. In ( b ) Mamre is an old name, either of Hebron or of a part of Hebron (cf. Genesis 23:19 , Genesis 35:27 ); in Genesis 14:13 it is the name of a local sheik or chief (cf. Genesis 14:24 ), the owner of the terebinths called after him; in Genesis 13:18; Genesis 18:1 it is not clear whether it is the name of a person or of a place. The ‘terebinths of Mamre’ are the spot at which Abraham pitched his tent in Hebron. The site is uncertain, though, if the present mosque, on the N.E. edge of Hebron, is really built over the cave of Machpelah, and if ‘before’ has its usual topographical sense of ‘east of,’ it will have been to the W. of this, and at no great distance from it (for the terebinths are described as being ‘in’ Hebron, Genesis 13:18 ). From Josephus’ time ( BJ , IV. ix. 7) to the present day, terebinths or oaks called by the name of Abraham have been shown at different spots near Hebron; but none has any real claim to mark the authentic site of the ancient ‘Mamre.’ The oak mentioned by Josephus was 6 stadia from the city; but he does not indicate in which direction it lay. Sozomen ( HE ii. 4), in speaking of the ‘Abraham’s Oak’ of Constantine’s day (2 miles N. of Hebron), states that it was regarded as sacred, and that an annual fair and feast was held beside it, at which sacrifices were offered, and libations and other offerings cast into a well close by. Cf. Oak.

S. R. Driver.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Mamre'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/m/mamre.html. 1909.

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