Another beautiful day in Galilee, and 6th day of touring! We visited Mount Tabor (where the Transfiguration of Jesus took place), had a traditional biblical lunch in the Nazareth village, stepped on the Brow of the Hill for a spectacular view overlooking the Jezreel Valley, visited a fruit store, and ended our day in our very comfortable accommodations at the Nof Ginosar Kibbutz Hotel.
Mount Tabor is located off of Highway 65 in Lower Galilee, at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley, 11 miles west of the Sea of Galilee, in Israel. Its summit is accessible by personal vehicle via Shibli’s access road. The peak itself is also traversed by the Israel National Trail. Nowadays reaching the top of the mountain itself does not demand great effort, but before circa 1,600 years ago one had to walk up no less than 4,340 stairs in order to arrive at the peak of the mountain.
Mount Tabor (where Christian tradition places the Transfiguration of Jesus) rises dome-like from the Plain of Jezreel. During the Transfiguration, Jesus began to radiate light and was seen conversing with Moses and Elijah. The scene is in the Synoptic Gospels, as well as alluded to in 2 Peter 1:16-18, but neither account identifies the “high mountain” of the scene by name.
It was the site of the battle between Barak and the army of Jabin, commanded by Sisera during the leadership of the Israelite judge Deborah in the mid 14th century B.C.E.. It is believed by many Christians to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus.
The mountain is mentioned for the first time in the Hebrew Bible, in Joshua 19:22, as border of three tribes: Zebulun, Issachar, and Naphtali. The mountain’s importance stems from its strategic control of the junction of the Galilee’s north-south route with the east-west highway of the Jezreel Valley. Deborah the Jewish prophetess summoned Barak of the tribe of Naphtali and gave him God’s command, “Go and draw toward Mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun” (Judges 4:6). Descending from the mountain, the Israelites attacked and vanquished Sisera and the Canaanites.
In the days of Second Temple, Mount Tabor was one of the mountain peaks on which it was the custom to light beacons in order to inform the northern villages of Jewish holy days and of beginnings of new months.
During a Hasmonean rebellion against the Roman Aulus Gabinius, Alexander of Judaea and his army of 31,000 Judeans, was defeated in battle near Mount Tabor. As many as 10,000 Jewish fighters were killed in the battle; Alexander himself was captured and executed. In 66 C.E. during the First Jewish-Roman War, the Galilean Jews retrenched on the mountain under the command of Josephus Flavius, whence they defended against the Roman assault. After the destruction of the second temple the Jewish settlement in Mount Tabor was renewed.
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as “the Arab capital of Israel,” the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. In the New Testament, the city is described as the childhood home of Jesus, and as such is a center of Christian pilgrimage, with many shrines commemorating biblical events.
We toured a re-created first-century Nazareth village and farm, and had an authentic biblical lunch prepared by our Nazareth Village friends.
Nazareth Village is an open-air museum that reconstructs and reenacts village life in Galilee in the time of Jesus.
The village features houses, terraced fields, wine and olive presses all built to resemble those that would have been in a Galilee village in the 1st century. Muslim and Christian living history enactors from nearby Nazareth dress in period costumes and show visitors how farm, domestic, and craft work was performed two thousand years ago.
In English translations of the New Testament, the phrase “Jesus of Nazareth” appears seventeen times where the Greek literally means “Jesus the Nazarene” or “Jesus the Nazoraean.” According to the Gospel of Luke, Nazareth was the home village of Joseph, Mary, and also the site of the Annunciation (when Mary was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would have Jesus as her son). In the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph and Mary resettled in Nazareth after fleeing to Egypt from their home in Bethlehem. The differences and possible contradictions between these two accounts of the nativity of Jesus are part of the Synoptic Problem. Nazareth was also where Jesus grew up from some point in his childhood.