Dead wood being removed from Oak of Mamre to make room for new trees growing from same root

Hebron, West Bank, February 11, 2019

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Russian specialists are working on removing dead wood from the ancient Oak of Mamre in the city of Hebron on the West Bank of the Jordan River to allow for the growth of two young shoots that sprouted from the same roots several years ago, reports the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The holy tree, where Abraham entertained the Lord in the form of three angels in Genesis 18, is located at the Mission’s compound in honor of the Holy Forefathers of Christ in Hebron.

The Oak withered in 1996 from time and age and construction carried out around it in the 1970s, and from that time was believed to be completely lifeless, until two new trees sprouted the next year from the dried-up oak that still had life in its roots underground. Today, the dilapidated tree is gradually giving way to the new shoots with the help of Russian specialists who began their preservation work several years ago.

The withered part of the tree collapsed yesterday, leading to speculations online that the tree was completely dead, which is a sign of the end of the world according to one tradition. Tradition also views the tree as a depiction of the sacred history—the withered part of the holy Oak representing the Old Covenant and the green part of the tree representing the New Covenant of grace. The appearance of new life in the tree in 1997 gave believers new hope that the world is again being pardoned.

All the collected parts of the ancient tree will soon be available for pilgrims in the Church of the Holy Forefathers.

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