Genesis 13:18, The Patriarchs of Israel

Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.

//We have three great patriarchs in the history of Israel:

[1] Abraham, who came from the land of Ur, is the first and greatest. He was later identified with a shrine in Hebron, what is now Palestine.

[2] Isaac is the son of Abraham, the second of the Jewish patriarchs, and is identified with a shrine at Beersheba, southwest of Jerusalem.

[3] Jacob, the son of Isaac and the third patriarch was identified with a shrine at Bethel. When kingdom of Israel later split in two (separating the south from the north), Bethel would belong to the northern half.

We have no historical evidence at all for these three men. No way to know if they ever really existed. Thus, the identification with three shrines in three different locations opens up the possibility that the “patriarchs” were not related at all, but were three Canaanites, leaders or holy men, whose shrines and stories later became intertwined when Israel invaded and conquered the land. The purpose in incorporating these shrines and writing them into the Israelite history was then probably to justify the conquest of Canaan by claiming divine right to the land; that God had promised the land to the forefathers of Israel hundreds of years beforehand.


  1. Anonymous

    My brother, if you really believe that these three had no connection than none of the Bible is true. If it is not true that God blessed Abraham with Isaac in his old age, just as God promised that he would and that because of Abraham, Christ is the heir to the promise that God gave to Abraham, then all we have believed has been a lie. It is amazing, we shrug at the beliefs of athiests, but what about us?

  2. Hi, thanks for commenting! I confess that in general my personal beliefs are immaterial to my posts. As I say, it “opens up the possibility,” which is as far as I am able to speculate.

    My posts are rarely about belief…indeed, I am not very good at believing. I do not think our individual beliefs should be cause for division, or should inhibit our search for truth. It seems Christian to me to humbly admit we do not always know which portions of the Bible are literally true and which are not.

Leave a Reply to Lee Harmon Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>