by: Nathan Williams, Director of Marketing and Communications
Israel is a diverse land with striking landscapes that captivate and inspire. No tour of Israel is complete without visiting at least one—and perhaps even all—of the famous mountains of Israel. Let’s travel north from the center of the country to discover the unique story that each mountain has to tell.
Better known as the Temple Mount or Har HaBayit (literally “the mount of the House”), Mount Moriah lies between the Kidron and Hinnom valleys inJerusalem. Its importance to Jews and Christians cannot be denied, as it is here that the First and Second Temples once stood. In fact, in Jewish tradition, Mount Moriah’s history predates even the Temples. It was to this mount that Abraham took his son Isaac to be sacrificed (Gen. 22) and some say it was where Jacob laid down his head and dreamt of the ladder into the heavens (Gen. 28:10–18). Furthermore, it is said that this is where the foundation stone of the world is located, and it is precisely on this foundation stone that the Holy of Holies once stood.
Just east of Mount Moriah lies the Mount of Olives, which takes its name from the fact that olive groves once covered this mountainside. Ancient olive groves can still be found in churchyards of the impressive churches found there today. This is a place of great importance in the story of Yeshua (Jesus). Here, in the Garden of Gethsemane, is where He spent His last moments of freedom before His crucifixion, and according to the prophets, it is the place where the Messiah will first step foot upon His return. Zechariah 2–4 declares that this is the place where the resurrection will begin, a fact that has made it a popular burial site since ancient times. The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives is the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world, and it is still in use today.
In ancient times, Shechem (modern day Nablus), which lies in the valley between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, was strategically positioned on the route know as the Way of the Patriarchs—named for being the exact route used by the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Mounts Gerizim and Ebal play a central role in the entry of the ancient Israelites into the Promised Land. This is the location where the Lord instructed the Twelve Tribes to divide into two groups and pronounce the blessings and curses. Six tribes stood on Mount Gerizim to pronounce the blessings of the covenant onto the people. The other six tribes stood on Mount Ebal to pronounce the curses of disobeying the covenant (Deut. 27). In Joshua 8, we find the fulfillment of this ceremony.
At an elevation of 1,886 feet (575 m.), Mount Tabor rises like a dome from the mostly flat Jezreel Valley. Mount Tabor’s considerable height over the surrounding area made it a strategic location for many strongholds in ancient times. In the eras of the Canaanites, Israelites and Romans, it was contested high ground that gave the conquering force an added advantage over their enemies. In the Second Temple period, a beacon was placed on Mount Tabor to inform the northern cities of the commencement of Jewish holy days. In the Byzantine era and later, the tradition that Mount Tabor was the place of Jesus’ (Yeshua’) transfiguration became more prominent. As a result, Christians and Muslims over the centuries battled over the holy sites built atop the mount.
Last, but definitely not least, is the highest peak in Israel: Mount Hermon, which lies at the northernmost point of the Golan Heights. Wedged between Lebanon and Syria, Mount Hermon is a strategic military asset but also a popular tourist attraction. Israel’s only ski resort is found on the upper slopes of Mount Hermon in the winter, and in the warmer months, the cable car takes visitors to the summit to enjoy the breathtaking views of northern Israel.
There are many more mountains to write about, too many for just one article. When the borders reopen and we can all travel again, we invite you to join us in Israel so that you can discover them all.
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