The Constantine church at Mamre appears on the Madaba Map.
|Location||Judea, West Bank|
|Founded||2600-2000 century BCE|
Mamre (//; Hebrew: מַמְרֵא), full Hebrew name Elonei Mamre ("Oaks/Terebinths of Mamre"), refers to a Canaanite cultic shrine dedicated to the supreme, sky god El of the ancient Canaanite religion. Talmudic sources refer to the site as Beth Ilanim or Botnah, where it was one of the three most important "fairs", or market places, in Judea. Mamre lies approximately half way between Halhul and Hebron, 4 kilometres north of the latter.
The exact site of Mamre, mention of which is made only in Book of Genesis, is not clear. Mamre may have been an Amorite, a tribal chieftain after whom a grove of trees was named. Genesis connected it with Hebron or a place nearby that city. It is persistently associated with the Cave of the Patriarchs. There is considerable confusion in the Biblical narrative concerning not only Mamre, but also Machpelah, Hebron and Kiryat Arba, all four of which are aligned repeatedly. In Genesis, Mamre is also identified with Hebron itself. The tradition of identifying the unwalled ruins of what Arabic tradition records called Rāmet el-Ḥalīl (Hill of the Friend), with the Old Testament Mamre goes back to the earliest Christian pilgrims in the 4th century CE.
Bronze age pottery shards found at the site may indicate that the cultic shrine was in use from 2600-2000 BCE, though there is no archaeological evidence for the site being occupied from the first half of the second millennium down to the end of the Iron Age. This Mamre, in one interpretation of the biblical account, was the site where Abraham pitched the tents for his camp, built an altar, and was brought divine tidings, in the guise of three angels, of Sarah's pregnancy, Another site, the Oak of Mamre located at Ḥirbet es-Sibte, two kilometres southwest of this Mamre, has been shown since the 19th century as the place where Abraham pitched his tents and saw the angels. Elsewhere it is called 'the Terebinths of Mamre the Amorite'. Mamre being the name of one of the three Amorite chiefs who joined forces with those of Abraham in pursuit of Chedorlaomer to save Lot. (Gen. 14:13,24)
The supposed discrepancy is often explained as reflecting the discordance between the different scribal traditions behind the composition of the Pentateuch, the former relating to the Yahwist, the latter to the Elohist recension, according to the documentary hypothesis of modern scholarship.
The Terebinth Tree
Josephus records a tradition according to which the terebinth at Mamre was as old as the world itself. The site was soaked in legend. Jews, Christians and Pagans made sacrifices on the site, burning animals, and the tree was considered immune to the flames of the sacrifices. Constantine, informed of these pagan practices, attempted without success to put an end to the festive rituals celebrated about the tree. See full article Oak of Mamre.
The ancient well, more than 5 m in diameter, is referred to as Abraham's Well. The 2 m thick stone wall enclosing area 60 m wide and 83 m long was constructed by Herod the Great, possibly as a cultic place of worship.
The Herodian structure was destroyed by Simon bar Kokhba's army, only to be rebuilt by the Roman emperor Hadrian. Hadrian revived the fair, which had long been an important one as it took place at an intersection forming the transport and communications nub of transport of the southern Judean mountains. This mercatus (Heb. yerid or shuq: Ancient Greek: πανήγυρις) or "fair, market" was one of the sites, according to a Jewish tradition conserved in Jerome, chosen by Hadrian to sell remnants of Bar Kochba's defeated army into slavery.
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.
Notwithstanding the rabbinic ban, by the time of Constantine the Great's reign the market had become an informal interdenominational festival, in addition to its functions as a trade fair, frequented by Christians, Jews and pagans. The cultic shrine was made over for Christian use after Eutropia, Constantine's mother-in-law, visited it and was scandalised by its pagan character. The drawing of the site after the excavation of the German scholar A E Mader from 1926-1928, shows the Basilica and stores furthest from the Haram Ramet el-Khalil, a well altar and tree, with the market place occupying the central enclosure. Constantine ordered the comes Acacius to destroy all pagan idols and banned the pagan practises. The enclosure was then consecrated, Constantine had the Basilica built, dedicated to Saint George and the enclosure of the Terebinth of Mamre roofed over, the foundations of which are still visible. The venerated tree was destroyed by Christian visitors taking souvenirs, leaving only a stump which survived down to the seventh century. Though the Basilica is no longer standing, it does appear on the Madaba Map.
The place is presently called the Terebinth, and is situated at the distance of fifteen stadia from Hebron, . . There every year a very famous festival is held in the summer time, by people of the neighbourhood as well as by the inhabitants of more distant parts of Palestine and by Phoenicians and Arabians. Very many go there for the sake of business, some to sell and some to buy. The feast is celebrated by a very big congregation of Jews, since they boast of Abraham as their forefather, of heathens since angels came there, of Christians since he who should be born from the Virgin for the salvation of humankind appeared there to that pious man. Everyone venerates this place according to his religion: some praying God the ruler of all, some calling upon the angels and offering libations of wine, burning incense or sacrificing an ox, a goat, a sheep or a cock... Constantine's mother in law (Euthropia), having gone there to fulfill a vow, gave notice of all this to the Emperor. So he wrote to the bishops of Palestine reproaching them for having forgot their mission and permitted such a most holy place to be defiled by those libations and sacrifices.'
Antoninus of Piacenza in his Itinerarium, an account of his journey to the Holy Land (ca.570 CE) comments on the basilica, with its four porticos, and an unroofed atrium. Both Christians and Jews worshipped there, separated by a small screen (cancellus). The Jewish worshippers would flock there to celebrate the deposition of Jacob and David on the day after the traditional date of Christ's birthday.
- Augustine Pagolu,The Religion of the Patriarchs, A&C Black, 1998 pp.59-60.
- Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Land of Our Fathers: The Roles of Ancestor Veneration in Biblical Land Claims, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2011 pp.51-52 :'Throughout Genesis, all these toponyms crowd the ancestral burial site, jostling for recognition. Though it is often assumed these were all essentially the same place, the aligning, glossing or renaming of locations is frequently suggestive of changing or competing claims to ownership.'
- Jericke p.4: Book of Genesis, 23:19;25:27.
- Detlef Jericke Abraham in Mamre: Historische und Exegetische Studien Zur Region Von Hebron Und Zu Genesis 11, 27-19, 38, BRILL, 2003 p.1.
- Taylor, Joan E. (1993) Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-814785-6 pp 86-95
- Genesis, 13:18
- Jericke p.2.
- Genesis 14:13
- David M. Gitlitz & Linda Kay Davidson ‘’Pilgrimage and the Jews’’ (Westport: CT: Praeger, 2006).
- Robert Alter, (tr.) Genesis, W.W.Norton & Co. āāNew York, London 1996 p.60
- Horne, Thomas Hartwell (1856) An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans & Roberts, p 63
- Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard (1998) Mercer Dictionary of the Bible Mercer University Press, ISBN 0-86554-373-9 p 543
- Haran, Menahem (1985) Temples and Temple-Service in Ancient Israel: An Inquiry Into Biblical Cult Phenomena and the Historical Setting of the Priestly School Eisenbrauns, ISBN 0-931464-18-8 p 53
- Menahem Haran,Temples and Temple-Service in Ancient Israel: An Inquiry Into Biblical Cult Phenomena and the Historical Setting of the Priestly School, Eisenbrauns, 1985 p.53. The third, Priestly recension excludes any such attachment of Abraham to the Terebinth cult.
- William Adler, The Kingdom of Edessa and the Creation of a Christian Aristocracy,’ in Natalie B. Dohrmann, Annette Yoshiko Reed (eds.) Jews, Christians, and the Roman Empire: The Poetics of Power in Late Antiquity, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013 pp.43-62 p.57
- Jericke, Detlef (2003) Abraham in Mamre: Historische und exegetische Studien zur Region von Hebron BRILL, ISBN 90-04-12939-1
- Letellier, Robert Ignatius (1995) Day in Mamre, Night in Sodom: Abraham and Lot in Genesis 18 and 19 BRILL, ISBN 90-04-10250-7
- Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome (2008) The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 Oxford University Press US, ISBN 0-19-923666-6 p 370
- Robinson, Edward (1856) Biblical Researches in Palestine, 1838-52: A Journal of Travels in the Year 1838 pp 215-216
- Safrai, Zeev (1994) The Economy of Roman Palestine, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-10243-X p 254
- Rabbi Yohanan in the Avodah Zarah, 1:4,39d, Neusner, Jacob (1982). Abodah Zarah: A Preliminary Translation and Explanation. University of Chicago Press., pp. 29-30
- Rozenfeld, Ben Tsiyon (2005). Markets And Marketing in Roman Palestine. BRILL. ISBN 90-04-14049-2. p. 63
- Safrai, Zeev (1994) The Economy of Roman Palestine, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-10243-X p 249
- Netzer, Ehud and Laureys-Chachy, Rachel (2006) The Architecture of Herod, the Great Builder Mohr Siebeck, ISBN 3-16-148570-X p 231
- Life of Constantine By Eusebius, Translated by Averil Cameron, Stuart George Hall Oxford University Press, (1999) ISBN 0-19-814917-4 p 301
- Fergusson, James (2004) Tree and Serpent Worship Or Illustrations of Mythology and Arts in India: In the 1st and 4th Century After Christ Asian Educational Services, ISBN 81-206-1236-1 p 7
- Stanley, Arthur Penrhyn (1856) Sinai and Palestine, in Connection with Their History J. Murray, p 142
- Frazer, James George (2003) Folklore in the Old Testament Studies in Comparative Religion Legend and Law: Studies in Comparative Religion, Legend, and Law Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 0-7661-3238-2 p 336
- Andrew S. Jacobs, Remains of the Jews: The Holy Land and Christian Empire in Late Antiquity, Stanford University Press, 2004 p.130.
- Adamnanus, De Locis Sanctis, 11, 11. 6, CCSL 175, 211.
- Franciscan cyberspot Arbo, also the Terebinth. The Oak of Mambre - (Ramat al- Khalil)
- Pringle,1998, p. 203
- Adamnanus, De Locis Sanctis
- Alter, Robert (tr.) Genesis, W.W.Norton & Co. New York, London 1996
- Eusebius Life of Constantine, Translated by Averil Cameron, Stuart George Hall Oxford University Press, (1999) ISBN 0-19-814917-4
- Fergusson, James (2004) Tree and Serpent Worship Or Illustrations of Mythology and Arts in India: In the 1st and 4th Century After Christ Asian Educational Services, ISBN 81-206-1236-1
- Frazer, James George (2003) Folklore in the Old Testament Studies in Comparative Religion Legend and Law: Studies in Comparative Religion, Legend, and Law Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 0-7661-3238-2
- Haran, Menahem (1985) Temples and Temple-Service in Ancient Israel: An Inquiry Into Biblical Cult Phenomena and the Historical Setting of the Priestly School Eisenbrauns, ISBN 0-931464-18-8
- Horne, Thomas Hartwell (1856) An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans & Roberts
- Jericke, Detlef (2003) Abraham in Mamre: Historische und exegetische Studien zur Region von Hebron unhistorische und exegetische Studien zur Region von Hebr BRILL, ISBN 90-04-12939-1
- Letellier, Robert Ignatius (1995) Day in Mamre, Night in Sodom: Abraham and Lot in Genesis 18 and 19 BRILL, ISBN 90-04-10250-7
- Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome (2008) The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 Oxford University Press US, ISBN 0-19-923666-6
- Netzer, Ehud and Laureys-Chachy, Rachel (2006) The Architecture of Herod, the Great Builder Mohr Siebeck, ISBN 3-16-148570-X
- Pringle, Denys (1998). The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: L-Z (exluding Tyre) II. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0 521 39037 0.
- Rosenfield,Ben-Zion; Joseph Menirav, Chava Cassel,Markets and Marketing in Roman Palestine, Brill, 2005 ISBN 90-04-14049-2
- Safrai, Zeev (1994) The Economy of Roman Palestine, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-10243-X
- Stanley, Arthur Penrhyn (1856) Sinai and Palestine, in Connection with Their History J. Murray,
- Taylor, Joan E. (1993) Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-814785-6
- Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard (1998) Mercer Dictionary of the Bible Mercer University Press, ISBN 0-86554-373-9
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament By Andrew Louth, Thomas C. Oden, Marco Conti Published by InterVarsity Press ISBN 0-8308-1472-8, pp60–66