27. The Oak of Mamre.


In one remarkable instance the Jews, the Christians, and the pagan Arabs united in religious feelings. This was in their reverence for the Oak of Mamre, where the angels appeared to Abraham: for Abraham’s sake the Jews held the place holy; the Arabs for the angels’; the Christians, because, in their ignorance of their own scriptures, they affimed, that the Son of God had accompanied those angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. An annual fair was held there, and every 45man sacrified after the manner of his country; nor was the meeting ever disgraced by any act of intemperance or indecency. Nothing had been done to injure the venerable antiquity of the place. There was nothing but the well which Abraham had dug, and the buildings which he had inhabited, beside the oak. These remains were destroyed by order of Constantine, in abhorrence of the impious toleration exhibited there! A church was built upon the spot, and Mamre, so interesting to the poet, the philosopher, and the pious man, became a mere den of superstition.

Sozomen, l 2. c. 3.


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