“He built there an altar to G‑d Who appeared to him.”

-Lech Lecha 12:7

“He built there an altar to G‑d and called on the Name of G‑d” (ibid. 12:8). “He dwelled in the plains of Mamre which are in Hebron, and he built there an altar to G‑d.”

-ibid. 13:18

In the course of our parshah Abraham built three altars. The first was in Shechem, in gratitude for the tidings that he would have children and that they would be given the Land of Israel. The second one he built near Ai, as an intercession for his descendants. The third he built in Hebron, for the actual possession of the Land of Israel. The Midrash notes that he built it in Hebron because that is where all the elders of Israel entered into a covenant with King David and anointed him King over Israel.

In this context, the three altars allude to three stages in the worship of G‑d and three corresponding eras in Jewish history: the times of the first and second Beit Hamikdash, and the time of the third Beit Hamikdash that will be with the coming of Moshiach.

Abraham already built an altar that relates to the times of Moshiach, the royal descendant and successor of King David. This fact offers a moral for us, for the deeds and events of the Patriarchs are indications for their descendants.

We too, at our present level, must already be conscious of the ultimate service of G‑d that will be in the third Beit Hamikdash. This consciousness generates an ever greater desire and anticipation of the Messianic redemption.

That itself will hasten its realization in our days, when we shall enter a new covenant with King David, as it is said: “My servant David will be king over them. . . and My servant David will be Prince over them forever” (Ezekiel 37:24-25).