The importance of Hebron, and its survival in spite of successive political changes can be traced to the Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim al-Khalil, or Abraham the friend), the forefather of all the prophets. Abraham settled in the city and influenced its development, to such an extent that the city was named after him at the beginning of Islamic rule.
It is still known as “Khalil Al-Rahman”, or the friend of God, a name usually abridged to Al Khalil. Prior to this name, the city was given several other appellations the significance of which is not clear.
At different times in history, Hebron was called “Kiryat Arba”; or the village of four, possibly referring to a federation of four tribes or four hills, then it was called “Habra” and “Hebron”, which probably derive from verb “Habar”, meaning "to be joined, coupled, befriended”, in reference to Abraham the friend. This name persisted until the dawn of Islam, and was mentioned in a letter sent by the Prophet Mohamad to Tamim Al Dari and his tribe. It was progressively replaced by “Khalil Al Rahman”. Hebron was chosen by the Prophet Abraham as a burial place for his wife Sarah, and later for himself, his son Isaac, his grandson Jacob and their wives. At the end of the first century B.C. their tombs were surrounded by a towering wall which has resisted the effects of time, war and destruction and stands tell this day.