Abram built an alter to YHWH near a spot in southern Israel known as the Terebinth Trees of Mamre. In Genesis 13:18 we read the final verse of this chapter where Abram moved to Mamre in Hebron. Abram had just left Egypt with Lot in tow. Their possessions were great, and a dispute broke out as the two family’s herdsman squabbled over who got the choicest of pastures. They decide to part ways. Lot moved to Sodom and Abram set up camp in Mamre. It was in Mamre that Abram got the news that Chedorlaomer and his cohorts had attacked Sodom and the kings that were with him and seized Lot and his possessions and took them away captive. Abram pursued them with several of his friends and eventually caught up with them near Damascus and killed Chedorlaomer and freed Lot.
Now Mamre was the site in the modern day city of Hebron that had a shrine dedicated to the Canaanite sky god El. Depicted to the right (click for larger image) is the Canaanite supreme deity El on top between two lions. Abram seems to be surrounded by false gods at every turn he makes. Needless to say, He chose to set up his tents in Mamre and dwell with the people of Hebron. This El is the Ugarit word for god, and the word used throughout the region when refering to the supreme god. It is no wonder then that the Hebrew word Elohim which is used throughout the scriptures to refer to God comes from this word El. Even the word YHWH spoken Jehovah or Yahweh in English derives it’s origin from these earlier Canaanite words.
What’s the difference between the Canaanite god and YHWH then? Good question. The difference is in the monothiestic beliefs of Abram among other things. You see Abram was called specifically out of Ur and had to withdraw from the culture he knew to follow God who declared that He alone is God and there is none else beside him. The Canaanite sky god El was the father of many lesser gods that were worshipped equally in a pantheon similar to the gods of the Greeks or Romans.
Abram’s God was the only living God who spoke and desired communion with His chosen people. Why? Because in the beginning when there was nothing; God existed. He created the world as we know it and every rule or law we discover was known by God before man’s discovery. It was God’s desire to be in fellowship with the creation he made. Why is YHWH more powerful than the pantheon of gods through out the history of mankind? Because He is and He is the I Am.