The volunteers from the Excellence Center visited al-Maskubeiah Monastery or “Ibrahim’s Oak” (now in Hebron). The Oak is 4,500- 5,000 years old and according to scripture, Abraham was approached by angels while he was resting under the oak and they announced to him that he would have a son, Issac.
The Finnish volunteer, Tarita, stated that it was “interesting to see a Christian church in middle of Hebron that was well maintained.” Moreover, another volunteer from the United States, Damir, asserted that it is important for the volunteers to visit the historic and religious sites in Palestine and learn about their history and significance.
As the legend goes, Abraham was sitting in his tent when three strangers approached. After he had prepared them a meal and washed their feet, the three men revealed themselves to be angels and told Abraham that his wife would give birth to a son. The moral of the story is to always offer kindness to strangers because one never knows when they will be angels.
In the 19th century, the Russian Orthodox Church bought the land around the tree and built a monastery (pictures below). They leased the land surrounding the area for 99 years but the lease long expired. The Russian Church and the Palestinians claiming the surrounding land (over 100 dunams) have been fighting a legal battle since the end of the lease. There has been no final judgment on this thus far.
There is also a small cemetery next to the church for the monks who have served at the church. The person holding, they key to the gate is a young Muslim man. His father before him served as the key holder for 40 years.
The Oak is fenced off because visitors would tear pieces from it. Another legend says that when the oak fully dies, the antichrist will come to the Earth. The tree is pretty much dead except for a root that sprouted a few years ago.