Deborah: Parashat Re’eh

You must destroy all the sites at which the nations you are to dispossess worshiped their gods, whether on lofty mountains and on hills or under any luxuriant tree” Deut. 12:2

I have wondered for a long time about the patriarchs’ association with sacred trees. Given the prohibitions against worshiping under “luxuriant trees” it seems odd that it was acceptable for Abraham to raise up an altar at the Canaanite Tree of Moreh (Gen. 12:6). Abraham also camped at the terebinths (a type of oak) of Mamre (Gen. 18:1) another Canaanite cultic shrine where he was visited by three angels. Later Jacob buried earrings of idols under the oak near Shechem (Gen. 35:4; also known as the Tree of Moreh). I must mention Deborah, the judge and prophet who, from under a tree, presided over an large administrative area. What is the importance of these trees? Read more…

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