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Abraham in Canaan

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Abraham in Canaan

Abrahamic Covenant

The Abrahamic Covenant is from the book of Genesis and begins with chapter 12 as God calls upon Abraham to go the land of Canaan where he promises to “make of him a great nation,” a blessing unto to mankind through his descendants all families of the world shall be blessed.

Click the pulsing & numbered icon for event summary.

Abraham in Canaan


God calls Terah’s son Abram to “Leave your country… and go to the land I will show you.” God establishes a covenant agreement with Abram to give his family the ‘promised land’ of Canaan. In c.1855BC, Abram and his nephew Lot set out for Canaan, about 400 miles / 640km away, with their tents and flocks.

Genesis 12:1-5



Abram arrives in Canaan and builds an altar by the sacred tree of Moreh at Shechem. Shechem lay in a valley between Mount Ebal (to the north) and Mount Gerizim (to the south).



Abram moves to the hill country between Bethel and Ai. He prays to the LORD and builds an altar here, then moves south towards the Negev Desert.


Egypt Nile Delta

Driven by drought and famine in the land of Canaan in c.1853BC, Abram and his wife Sarai journey along the Way of Shur to the well-watered lands of the Nile Delta in Egypt. Sarai claims to be Abram’s sister rather than his wife and is accepted into the harem of the Egyptian Pharaoh – probably Pharaoh Khety IV. Abram receives sheep, cattle and servants in return. But the deception is uncovered and Abram and Sarai are forced to flee.



Abram and Sarai return from Egypt to the hill country near Bethel. The herdsmen quarrel because of insufficient pasture in this dry land. Abram and Lot decide to separate.



Abraham (Abram) and Lot part company.


Judaean Hill Country

Abram stays in the land of Canaan and settles in the Judaean hill country near Bethel. The grazing here is poorer, but Abram stays within the land where God’s blessing was promised (see Gen 12:1-3). God renews his covenant promise to Abram: “All this land that you see I will give to you and your descendents for ever” (Genesis 13:15).



Abram moves to the great oaks of Mamre near Hebron and builds an altar there. Hebron (meaning ‘confederacy’), at 3043 ft / 927 m, was the highest town in the area.

Foundation – Google Earth | Geolocation Coordinates – Open Bible | Event Summary – The Bible Journey | Scripture Links – Bible Gateway

Scripture reference.

Genesis 12:1-5

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

Genesis 12:6-7

Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

Genesis 12: 8-9

From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.

Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

Genesis 12:10-20

Abram in Egypt

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

Genesis 13: 1-9

Abram and Lot Separate

13 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.

From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.

Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

Genesis 13:10-13

10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

Genesis 13:14-17

14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

Genesis 13:18

18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.

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Having fled for his life from Beersheba, Jacob settled down for the night at Luz. While asleep, he dreamed of a ladder - or stairway - leading up to heaven, with angels going up and down. In his dream, the LORD renewed his covenant promise to give the land of Canaan to Jacob and his descendants. God also promised that “all the families of the earth will be blessed” through Jacob’s offspring (Genesis 28:14). Jacob was awestruck and declared “This place ... is surely the house of God” (Genesis 28:17). He set up a stone pillar as an altar and re-named the place Bethel (‘Beth-el’ means ‘House of God’).

The site of Bethel is now occupied by the Palestinian West Bank village of Beitin, on the outskirts of Al-Bireh, 3 miles / 5 km to the northeast of RamallahBeitin was a prosperous town during Roman times, and still contains the remains of a Byzantine monastery built to commemorate Jacob’s dream. An ancient tower now marks the spot where it is believed Jacob had his vision of the ladder leading up to heaven and where, earlier, Abraham built an altar on his journey south from Shechem to the Negev Desert (see Genesis 12:8-9).

Source: The Bible Journey


Haran is one of the oldest cities on earth that is still inhabited today. Founded by settlers migrating west from Mesopotamia in the 18th century BC, the city was at its peak during the Hittite Empire, based on Central Anatolia in the 12th century BC. It was already centuries old when the Hittites fought Ramesses II of Egypt at the Battle of Kadesh in 939 BC.

Modern travellers to Harran (Haran), near Altinbaşak in eastern Turkey, can sense the antiquity of the settlement when they encounter its decaying walls, the ruins of the ancient 11th century citadel, and the remains of the Old Mosque. Haran is famous for its unique beehive-shaped mudbrick houses that originated in the 3rd century BC and which have been rebuilt in the same style many times during the intervening centuries.

Traditional bee-hive shaped houses at Harran  (Glumik)


A city in the south end of the valley of Eshcol, about midway between Jerusalem and Beersheba, from which it is distant about 20 miles in a straight line. It was built "seven years before Zoan in Egypt" ( Genesis 13:18Numbers 13:22 ). It still exists under the same name and is one of the most ancient cities in the world. Its earlier name was Kirjath-arba ( Genesis 23:2Joshua 14:1515:3 ). But "Hebron would appear to have been the original name of the city, and it was not till after Abraham's stay there that it received the name Kirjath-arba, who [i.e., Arba] was not the founder but the conqueror of the city, having led thither the tribe of the Anakim, to which he belonged. It retained this name till it came into the possession of Caleb when the Israelites restored the original name Hebron" (Keil, Com.).

The name of this city does not occur in any of the prophets or in the New Testament. It is found about forty times in the Old. It was the favorite home of Abraham. Here he pitched his tent under the oaks of Mamre, by which name it came afterward to be known; and here Sarah died, and was buried in the cave of Machpelah ( Genesis 23:17-20 ), which he bought from Ephron the Hittite. From this place, the patriarch departed for Egypt by way of Beersheba ( 37:1446:1 ). It was taken by Joshua and given to Caleb ( Joshua 10:36 Joshua 10:3712:1014:13 ). It became a Levitical city and a city of refuge ( 20:721:11 ). When David became king of Judah this was his royal residence, and he resided here for seven and a half years ( 2 Samuel 5:5 ), and here he was anointed as king over all Israel ( 2 Samuel 2:1-4 2 Samuel 2:111 Kings 2:11 ). It became the residence also of the rebellious Absalom ( 2 Samuel 15:10 ), who probably expected to find his chief support in the tribe of Judah, now called el-Khulil.In one part of the modern city is a great mosque, which is built over the grave of Machpelah.

One of the largest oaks in Palestine is found in the valley of Eshcol, about 3 miles north of the town. It is supposed by some to be the tree under which Abraham pitched his tent, and is called "Abraham's oak."

Source: The Bible Journey


The site of Shechem lies within modern-day Nablus (the largest city in Samaria founded by the Roman Emperor Titus in 72AD). The city is located on the only east-west pass through the Central Highlands, at the head of the Wadi Farah leading down to the Jordan crossing at Adam (Damia Bridge).

Shechem was an important Canaanite religious center. Abram built an altar there to commemorate his meeting with God (see Genesis 12:6) while, later, his grandson Jacob also built an altar here, and buried his wife Rachel’s household gods under the sacred oak tree (see Genesis 35:1-4).  Shechem continued to be an important religious centre after the conquest of Canaan under Joshua. At the end of the campaign, Joshua addressed all the people at Shechem and urged them to be faithful to the LORD their God (see Joshua 24:1). He renewed the covenant with God and set up a large sacred stone at Shechem to act as a witness (see Joshua 24:25-27).

In 1404 BC, Joshua died at Shechem, and the mummified body of Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph (which had been brought from Egypt) was laid to rest at Shechem (where he had lived as a young man – see Joshua 24:32 & Genesis 37:12). When the people of Israel turned to Baal after the death of Gideon in c.1170 BC, they worshipped at the great fortress-temple of Baal-berith here at Shechem (see Judges 8:33).

At Tel Balata, to the east of the centre of Nablus, modern visitors can explore the remnants of the Canaanite city of Shechem. The ruins include two gateways, extensive enclosure walls and revetments, and remains of the temple of Baal-berith – known as Migdol Shechem (the 'Tower of Shechem') - which was burnt down by Abimelech in c.1168 BC, with the inhabitants of Shechem inside - see Judges 9:46-49). 

Half a mile / 1 km north east of Tel Balata is the traditional site of the Tomb of Joseph, covered by a small white-domed Ottoman building. Half a mile / 1 km south of Joseph’s Tomb is the site of Jacob’s Well (see John 4:6), now enclosed within a Greek Orthodox Monastery.

Source: The Bible Journey