Oak of Moreh

MOREH, OAK OF (Heb. אֵלֹ֣ון מוֹרֶ֑ה; KJV incorrectly: “Plain of Moreh”), mentioned in Genesis 12:6 as a place near Shechem where Abraham camped on arriving in Canaan from Haran. There God revealed Himself to Abraham with the promise to give Canaan to his descendants, whereupon Abraham responded by building his first altar to the Lord in Canaan. The name “Oak” or “Terebinth of Moreh,” may also be tr. “the teacher’s” or “the Diviners’ Oak.” It must have been a “holy” tree, and the place an old Canaanite sanctuary. Although it is difficult to understand Abraham’s motives for visiting this place, there is no reason to suggest that Abraham recognized the sacred character of the place, and willfully adapted himself to it. The reference to the Oak of Moreh merely serves to indicate the place where Abraham camped, and built his own altar.

The “Diviners’ Oak” (Judg 9:37) may refer to the same place. Simons, however, questions the identity (Geographical..., p. 212, note 194.) It is, however, uncertain whether the allusions to “the oak” in Genesis 35:4 and Judges 9:6 are related to the place mentioned in Genesis 12:6.

Bibliography

D. Baly, The Geography of the Bible, (1957); J. Simons, Geographical and Topographical Texts of the Old Testament (1959).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

It seems probable that the place here intended may be the same as that mentioned in De 11:30 (’elone moreh, "terebinths of Moreh," the King James Version "plains," the Revised Version (British and American) "oaks," the Revised Version margin "terebinths"). Both are defined as near to Shechem. The position cannot be identified today. The tree or trees were evidently a place of resort for those who wished to consult a moreh. See Hill of Moreh. To this day in Palestine trees are often regarded with a certain religious awe as the habitation of spirits. Isolated terebinths receive much veneration. The present writer has often seen such trees with multitudinous rags of all colors attached to them by the peasantry as evidence of their homage.

See MEONENIM.