Hiking the Galilee and the Golan Heights

Mount Tabor Hike – (The Story of Deborah the prophet)

Climb on the famous Mount Tabor (Mountain of Transfiguration).  Mount tabor is mentioned 7 times in the old testament and was the setting for the biblical story of Deborah the prophet. Years later it was the location where Jesus transfigured with bright rays of light to his apostles.

Hike Metrics
Hike Description
Distance6.0 Km
Short versions3.0 Km
Climb300 m
(Short version almost Flat)
LevelModearte
BestDec - April
PossibleAll Year
LocationGoogle-Maps-icon-2020
/ Start PointGoogle-Maps-icon-2020

Biblical References –
Old Testament:

Joshua 19:22 - The border of the 3 tribes
Text:”And the coast reacheth to  Tabor , and Shahazimah, and Bethshemesh; and the outgoings of their border were at Jordan: sixteen cities with their villages”.
Explanation: Tabor is clearly a town connected with Mount Tabor on the Zebulun border and shared with Zebulun (see Judges 4:6; Judges 4:14; Judges 8:18; 1 Chronicles 6:77). Shahazumah is unknown. Beth-shemesh (‘house of the sun (or of Shemesh)’) was a popular name for towns related to sun worship. This one may have been shared with Naphtali being on the Issachar-Naphtali border (Joshua 19:38). These sixteen cities with their villages delineate the inheritance of Issachar.(Pett  Peter)
Judges 4 - Battle of Deborah the prophet with the Canaanite (battle of Mount Tabor)
Text:
Verse 6:
“And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward  mount Tabor , and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?”
Verse 12: “And they showed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to  mount Tabor “.
Verse 14:: “And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from  mount Tabor , and ten thousand men after him”.
Explanation: Mount Tabor – “Mount Tabor,” says Maundrell, “stands by itself, about two or three furlongs within the plains of Esdraelon. It has a plain area at the top, both fertile and delicious of an oval figure, extending about one furlong in breadth, and two in length. The prospect from the top is beautiful: on the N.W. is the Mediterranean; and all around you have the spacious plains of Esdraelon and Galilee, which present you with a view of many places famous for the resort and miracles of the Son of God. At the bottom of Tabor, westward, stands Daberah, a small village, supposed to have taken its name from Deborah. Near this valley is the brook Kishon. During the rainy season, all the water that falls on the eastern side of the mountain, or upon the rising ground to the southward, empties itself into it, in a number of torrents: at which conjuncture it overflows its banks, acquires a wonderful rapidity, and carries all before it. It might be at such a time as this when the stars are said to fight against Sisera, Judges 5:20, Judges 5:21, by bringing an abundance of rain, whereby the Kishon became so high and rapid as to sweep away the host of Sisera, in attempting to ford it.” See Maundrell and Shaw. This mountain is very difficult of ascent; it took Mr. Maundrell nearly an hour to reach the top; this, with its grand area on the summit, made a very proper place for the rendezvous of Barak’s army. Antiochus used it for the same purpose in his wars; and Josephus appears to have fortified it; and Placidus, one of Vespasian’s generals, was sent to reduce it. See more in Calmet. (Clarke, Adam)
Judges 8:18 - Zebah and Zalmunna
Text:”Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men were they whom ye slew at  Tabor ? And they answered, As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king”.
Explanation: were the two kings who led the vast host of the Midianites who invaded the land of Israel, and over whom Gideon gained a great and decisive victory (Judges 8). Zebah and Zalmunna had succeeded in escaping across the Jordan River with a remnant of the Midianite host, but were overtaken at Karkor, probably in the Hauran, and routed by Gideon. The kings were taken alive and brought back across the Jordan; and confessing that they had personally taken part in the killing of Gideon’s brothers, they were put to death. (Wikipedia)
1 Samuel 10:3 - Samuel tells Saul of another sign to confirm what God has done.
Text:“Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the  plain of Tabor , and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine.”
Explanation: It should be “the oak or terebinth”” of Tabor” (Judges 4:11 note). It has been ingeniously conjectured that “Tabor” is either a different form of “Deborah,” or a corruption of it, and that the “oak,” or “terebinth of Tabor,” is the same as “Allon-bachuth,” the oak under which Deborah was buried, and which lay “beneath Bethel” Genesis 35:8. The terebinth, where the three men came upon Saul, must have been at some point previous to that where the road leading northward from Jerusalem branches; when they reached that point they would go on with their offerings to Bethel, he would pursue his journey to Gibeah. (Barnes, Albert)
1 Chronicles 6:77 - The cities and common lands of the Levites.
Text:“Unto the rest of the children of Merari were given out of the tribe of Zebulun, Rimmon with her suburbs,  Tabor  with her suburbs:””.
Explanation: That is, the children of Israel, as it is expressed 1 Chronicles 6:64, gave to the residue of the Kohathites the following cities, part out of Ephraim, and part out of the half-tribe of Manasseh. As to the names of these cities, divers of them differ from those mentioned as given to them Joshua 21:15. Nor is it strange that the names of places should be changed in so many hundreds of years as had intervened between Joshua and this time. And as to the cities themselves, it is further to be observed, that they were dispersed among all the tribes, partly that Jacob’s prophecy might be fulfilled concerning the scattering of the tribe of Levi, Genesis 49:7; and partly that every tribe might have teachers among them by whom they might be directed in, and quickened to, the observation of God’s laws, upon which their safety and happiness wholly depended.. (Benson)
Jeremiah 46:18 – Nebuchadnezzaris compared to Tabor and Carmel mountains.
Text:“As I live, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts, Surely as  Tabor  is among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, so shall he come.”
Explanation: Nebuchadnezzar in his high-towering greatness is compared to two of the most conspicuous mountains of Palestine, Tabor rising in solitary greatness 1,350 feet above the plain, Carmel 1,805 feet above the sea. (Eliot’s)
Josiah 5:1 - Tabor is the well-known mountain that is taken as the representative of the region west of the Jordan.
Text:“Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment is toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon  Tabor 
Explanation: House of the king refers to his following on both sides of the Jordan—Mizpah on the east side, in Gilead, and Tabor on the west. They are singled out as being military strongholds. (Eliot’s)

New Testament:

Matthew 17:1-13: Jesus is transfigured before Peter, James, and John on the mountain. (According to old traditions, Tabor is the holy mountain, and is called the mount of Transfiguration.)
Text:“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.”
Explanation: We now come to the amazing account of the transfiguration of Christ on the mountain. This dramatic event marks a major turning point in the gospel narratives, for Jesus was beginning to turn more and more to Jerusalem and the suffering and death that awaited Him there. But before all of that would take place, there was this glimpse of glory.(bible.org)

Our Hike starts at the “Tabor Terminal” (accessible also with public transport). This is the last point on the road that can be reached by bus. (After that the road becomes too narrow and only passenger cars are allowed).
For the short version continue by car all the way up the winding road to the upper parking location.

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Track description:
  • Start by following the  ‡Green‡ markers. (Also a part of the INT) up the mountain. The path is shady inside the forest.

Flower in Mount Tabor Hiking Trail

  • After about 0.5 Km the path reaches a dirt road. Turn left on the dirt road, and after a few minutes look out as the ‡Green‡ markers leave the dirt road to the right (2) and start to climb steeply through the forest.
  • After another 0.5 Km of a steep climb we reach a junction with a ‡Black‡ marked trail. Continue straight with the ‡Green‡ markers and after a few minutes the trail meets a paved road.
  • Ignore this road and continue a little further to meet another road. (3) which is the main entrance to mount Tabor church complex. (And the start of the short version of this hike)
  • Turn left and follow the road until the church of transfiguration.
  • Church of Transfiguration - Entrance
Church of the Transfiguration
The Church you see today, the Church of the Transfiguration, is fairly recent and was built by the Franciscans in 1924. In size it is one of the largest in the Holy Land. It was built on the ruins of an ancient (4th–6th century) Byzantine church and a 12th-century church of the Crusader Kingdom period. (Further reading) Opening Hours: Usually 08:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00.

Listen to Mathew Chapter 17 – The Transfiguration
  • After the visit to the church itself, make your way to the Right (south) balcony for a great view of the surrounding area. Standing in this spot we can understand why this location was an inspiration to praise god’s creation in Psalms 89:12 “ Tabor  and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.”
  • Retrace your steps back to point (3). Turn left and follow the path now marked ‡Black‡. This trail circles around the summit of mount Tabor and gives great views each time to a different direction.

Jezreel Valley - Sight of the battle of Deborah the Profit

  • The trail passes underneath pine trees and during later winter and early spring is full of wildflowers. Find an opening between the trees and look south to the Ksalot Valley 400 meters below. A great spot to relax and learn about one of the most famous biblical battles.
Battle of Mount Tabor
The Israelites marched to Mount Tabor. Their movements were reported to Sisera, who hastened to the Wadi Kishon, near Mount Tabor. However, a downpour had soaked the ground in the area, significantly slowing the Canaanite chariots in the ensuing mud. The chariots were now almost useless and, when Barak’s army attacked from Mount Tabor, the Canaanites faltered. (Further reading in Wikipedia)

Listen Judges 4 – Battle of Deborah the prophet with the Canaanite
  • Continue to encircle Mount Tabor on the ‡Black‡. marked trail with the views gradually changing from the south towards the east until a junction with a ‡Blue‡ marked trail. (4)
  • If you took the short version and your car is parked at the top of the mountain continue the full circle of the mountain with the  ‡Black‡ markers.
  • If you are taking the full version, turn right on the  ‡Blue‡ markers (Also the INT) and start the steep hike down from Mount Tabor. After about 800 m the trail crosses a wide dirt road and continues to descend.

Looking East from Mount Tabor

  • Don’t! continue with it. Turn left and walk on the unmarked dirt road for about 1.5 km unitil you reach again the ‡Green‡ markers (2). (Where we started the ascend in the beginning).
  • Follow the ‡Green‡  markers from the start of the hike for another 0.5 km until the trail-head. (1)

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