If you plan to travel to Israel to film a production relating to the Old Testament then Biblical Productions can provide you with a range of pre-production and production services in Israel that are second to none.
Whether you are planning a documentary or re-enactment, we can assist you in getting the best shots. As part of our service, we provide a range of stories and ideas. Below we give you the story of Abraham and some filming and location tips.
The Life of Abraham
Abraham is the father of the three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. In Abraham’s time, people worshipped idols and his father’s trade was selling these statues. Abraham, however, developed a faith in just one God, a revolutionary idea at the time. He is famed in the Jewish Midrash (Torah interpretation) for smashing his father’s idols in a fit of rage. His original name was Abram and he started life as a shepherd in the town of Ur in Mesopotamia, which is in modern-day Iraq. His father moved the family to Haram. After the death of his father, God spoke to Abraham, who was 75 years old at that time. He was directed to the land of Canaan and took with him his wife, Sarah, and his nephew, Lot. Lot later moved to Sodom because there was not enough grazing land for both their flocks.
At the beginning of Genesis, when God asks Abram to leave his home, he makes him several promises; ‘I will make you 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 the peoples of the earth will be bless through you.’ Genesis 12:1-3. Abram is rewarded for his blind faith and obedience with a change of name to Abraham, meaning ’father of the people’.
Abraham settled in Mamre, near Hebron where he continued to tend his herd. During this period he rose up against invaders of Canaan, defeating four kings and being greeted on his triumphant return by Malachi Tzedek, the king of Salem and ‘Priest of the God of the Most High’.
The Birth and Binding of Isaac
When it became evident that Sarah could not conceive she gave her blessing for Abraham to have her maid, Hagar, as a wife. Hagar gave birth to Ishmael. In affirmation of his covenant with God, Abraham circumcised himself as well as the males in his household. He was later visited by three angels who announced that within a year Sarah would give birth. Their premonition proved accurate and Sarah gave birth to Isaac when Abraham was 100 years old. Sarah then urged Abraham to banish Hagar and Ishmael, making Isaac his sole heir.
Having been given the blessing of a much cherished but unexpected child with Sarah, Abraham was given a true test of faith. He is instructed by God to sacrifice Isaac. This is a confusing demand because God had previously promised that Abraham’s descendants would come through Isaac. Abraham however, proves himself to have total faith in God and duly takes his son up Mountain Moriah and binds him, ready for sacrifice. At the very last minute, God intervenes, sparing Isaac’s life and telling Abraham to instead sacrifice a ram. God’s promise to Abraham is then repeated. Abraham is remembered for his discovery and promotion of monotheism and for his total and complete great faith in God.
Film Locations Relating to the Story
The following locations would enhance any documentary or re-enactment that you film in Israel. These places offer authenticity and atmosphere. Biblical Productions can pass on our filming tips – advising you of the best time to film, the best shooting locations and ensuring you have the permits required for access.
- Filming Cave of the Patriarch Hebron – this is Abraham’s final resting place. He purchased it as a burial place for his wife Sarah, as detailed in Genesis. It was subsequently used as the burial place for all the patriarchs and three of the matriarchs:
- Filming Hebron Town – This was one of the first places where Abraham lived after arriving in Canaan and is a town with a long Jewish tradition. One great filming spot is ‘Abraham’s Oak’, which is the dramatic trunk of an ancient oak tree estimated to be nearly 5000 years old. Legend has it that this is the spot Abraham first pitched his tent and was promised a son with his wife Sarah.
- Filming Mount Moriah is the spot where Abraham was tested by God and was instructed to sacrifice Isaac. This dramatic episode of Abraham’s life would surely be central to your production in Israel.
- Filming Malki-Tzedek’s grave at Tabor Mountain – Malki-Tzedek was the king of Shalem and a Cohen (priest) of El Elyon. It is recorded that Abraham was loyal to him and paid tithes to him.
- Filming Nablus – You can obtain authentic footage of scenery that hasn’t changed for thousands of years and would represent the biblical landscape well.
- Filming Abraham’s Well in Beer Sheva – This site is significant in Abraham’s story as it symbolized his intention to put down roots in Beer Sheva. The well itself is a joy to film, with grooves worn into the stone where ropes have been used to pull the water up from the spring over thousands of years. Authentic sites like this could never be created on a film set or at other locations.
- Filming Abraham’s Tree (Eshel Avram) – Genesis 21:33: ‘And Abraham planted an Eshel in Be’er Sheva, and he called there by the Name of God the eternal God world’. Some say the ancient conifer tree close to the well is Abraham’s tree.
- Filming Sodom next to the Dead Sea – Lot, Abraham’s nephew, settled here with his wife. This location is famed as the place Lot’s wife looked back toward Sodom, having been warned not to, and turned into a pillar of salt. There is a pillar of salt still standing in the area today which, legend has it, is Lot’s wife.
- Filming in the Church of Valley of the Cross – This contains a painting depicting the scene of the angels informing Abraham that he was to father a child with Sara. Christian tradition has it that the angels left their staffs behind and these were later transformed into three trees. Wood from these trees is said to have made Jesus’ cross.
- Filming Bedouin tents – The best way to recreate the dwellings used in Biblical times is to film Bedouin tents. The use of animal skins, the structure and the decor of these tents is all reminiscent of the way biblical characters would have lived.
- Filming The West Bank – The Judean Hills provide dramatic shots of undulating hills and are an accurate portrayal of the area at the time of Genesis. Much of the rural scenery here has remained untouched since biblical times.
- Filming The Galilee – The Land of Canaan can be well represented by Galilee, especially in March. The lush green scenery, mountainous terrain and wonderful variety of flowers and trees provide a beautiful back for your documentary.
Film permits and Pre Production
All these locations need film permits which need to be arranged before your shoot. Biblical Productions can organize these for you, cutting through the bureaucracy and dealing with any queries in Hebrew. Our intervention will save you time, effort and hassle. Just give us your list of filming locations in Israel and we can advise you about the cost and timescales for obtaining permits at each filming location.
As obtaining permits, finding specific locations and setting up your production don’t always run smoothly we encourage you to use Biblical Productions as your fixer in Israel. In particular, if you only have a couple of days to shoot several locations we recommend hiring a local field producer to accomplish everything in a short time.