In Parshat Vayera (Breisheet 18:1) we see that Avraham was living in Elonei Mamre (the Oaks of Mamre):
God appeared to him in Elonei Mamre and he was sitting at the door of the tent in the heat of the day.
Where is Elonei Mamre?
We have already encountered Elonei Mamre earlier in Avraham’s journeys in Parshat Lech Lecha (Breisheet 13:18):
Avram set up his tent, and he came and settled in Elonei Mamre, in Hevron…
Radak explains that Elonei Mamre is within the borders of Hevron.
Where would Elonei Mamre be located today?
Elonei Mamre is associated with Ramat El Halil, around 3 kilometers from Hevron, on the way to Jerusalem. The Jews call the spot Ohel Avraham, Avraham’s Tent. In the Mishna (Maaser Sheni 5:2) it was called Eilat Avraham, “Eilat to the South” (not to be confused with the city of Eilat as we know it today in the south of Israel).
In Breisheet 18:2, Avraham lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold three men were standing near him. He saw them and ran from the door of the tent to greet them and he bowed down to the earth.
Rashi explains that the men were actually angels and why three were needed:
One angel’s task was to foretell to Sara that she will give birth. One had the job to overturn Sdom. And one (Refael) was there to heal Avraham after his Brit Mila (circumcision).
Avraham prepares food for them and then they ask where Sarah is and inform Avraham that by next year Sarah will give birth to a son.
In verse 16, the “men” continue on their journey:
The men stood up from where they were, and they gazed upon Sdom. Avraham went with them to send them on their way.
Rashbam explains that two of the angels go to Sdom (Breisheet 19:1) “The two angels came to Sdom in the evening.” The third, most important angel remained with Avraham and spoke to him.
Where was this lookout place where they gazed upon Sdom?
Nebi Yakin is located next to the settlement, Maale Haver. It is also called Mitzpe Shloshet HaMalachim, (the lookout point of the three angels) since this is thought to be the spot where Avraham stood with the three angels and gazed upon Sdom.
From that vantage point, one can look to the south and see the settlement of Har Hevron. When looking east, one can see the northern and southern parts of Midbar Yehuda (the Judean desert).
You don’t actually see Sdom from that spot, but you see the direction of Sdom, the mountains of what eventually became Amon and Moav.
This is the spot where Avraham was told that Sdom would be destroyed and where Avraham tried to convince God not to destroy the cities. Once that it was clear that there weren’t even ten righteous people who merited the cities being saved, the conversation was over (Breisheet 18:33):
God departed when He finished speaking to Avraham, and Avraham returned to his place.
Sfrono explains that Avraham left the place where he had escorted the angels and spoke to God and he went back home (to Elonei Mamre) .
Last year, I had the honor of visiting Mitzpe Shloshet HaMalachim. It was amazing to be in that spot, looking over towards Sdom and understand where Avraham was standing when this story unfolded.
The more that we travel around Israel, the more we understand our deep roots in the Land and why it must never be taken for granted.
May the three angels come back to visit us during this difficult time in Israel- one to heal those who are sick and injured, one to remind us that we must continue to bring life and joy into the world and one to destroy evil and save the people who have been taken hostage.