Al-Khalil, as Hebron is called in Arabic, means “The Friend of God”. In ancient times it was known as Mamre and Kirjath Arba “The town of four” because of its position on four hills. Situated at an altitude of 3000 feet, Hebron has been continuously settled for at least 5000 years. The outstanding sight of Hebron is undoubtedly The Sanctuary of Abraham (Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi), or Tomb of the Patriarchs, a heavy rectangular building that encloses the Cave of Machphelah; where the Patriarchs Abraham “Ibrahim Al-Khalil”, Isaac “Is’haq”, Jacob (pbut) and their wives are buried, and the place of David’s anointment (pbuh), thus regarded as holy by Muslims, Christians and Jews alike..
The Old Town
The ancient and traditional town of Hebron is considered to be one of the oldest towns in Palestine, and indeed has some claim to being among the oldest continuously inhabited places anywhere. The souq (bazaar) with its arched roofs and maze of alleys is worth exploring. The shops and stalls sell everything from pottery, olivewood and glass to fresh and dried fruits. The grapes produced here are converted into jam and a kind of molasses, and the traditional crafts of glass and pottery making and tanning have been adapted to small-scale factory production.
After separating from his nephew Lot (pbuh), Abraham (pbuh) came to Mamre where he pitched his tent. Here, He received the three angels who announced to him that his wife Sara would have a son. Abraham (pbuh) went to rescue Lot (pbuh) from Mamre, and there, lie pleaded for Sodom and Gomorrah. Excavations at the site found remains of different Herodion, Byzantine, and Muslim buildings.
Oak of Abraham
2 km west of Hebron is the Oak of Abraham, which marks the legendary site where Abraham (pbuh) pitched his tent. Until recently, visiting pilgrims used to remove pieces of the trunk for good luck but now the Russian Orthodox Church (owners of the site and the monastery nearby) wrap the trunk with steel braces for protection.
Halhoul Village sits on a hill to left of the road, less than 5 km from Hebron. The beauty of the countryside testifies to the fertility and productivity of the soil here; abundant vineyards dot the area, producing the delicious and distinctive-tasting grapes for which Hebron is famous. Just outside the village is the mosque of Nabi Yonus, which, according to Muslim tradition, is built over the grave of the prophet Jonnah (pbuh).