(Mamʹre) [strength, vigorous].
1. An Amorite chieftain who, along with his brothers Aner and Eshcol, supported Abraham in defeating King Chedorlaomer and his allies. The basis for their support was evidently the confederacy into which they entered with Abraham.—Gen. 14:13, 24.
2. A place generally identified with Ramet el-Khalil, lying about one and two-thirds miles (2.7 kilometers) N of Hebron, but thought by some to be farther to the W, in harmony with Genesis 23:17. It was the principal place of residence for Abraham and, at least for a time, for Isaac. In the nearby cave of Machpelah, they, their wives, and Jacob and Leah were eventually buried. (Gen. 13:18; 35:27; 49:29-33; 50:13) The area is well-watered with numerous springs. There was a grove of big trees in Mamre in Abraham’s time, and here he built an altar to Jehovah. (Gen. 13:18) Under one of such trees he entertained the angels prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Gen. 18:1-8) Here, too, Jehovah’s promise was made to him of a son by Sarah. (Gen. 18:9-19) From a point near Mamre it was possible for Abraham to see all the way down to Sodom and there behold the thick smoke billowing up as a result of the fiery destruction of that area.—Gen. 19:27-29.
In the area presently identified with Mamre large trees (usually oaks) have received historical attention from Josephus’ time down to the present day. Over the centuries shrines have been set up, usually in connection with an ancient tree presumed to be the one under which Abraham spoke with the angels. Herod the Great built a stone wall around such a traditional site. After his mother-in-law visited the area in the fourth century B.C.E., Emperor Constantine had a basilica erected there. Thereafter the Muslim conquerors also venerated the area.