Our 8th day of touring: we started our day with a breathtaking sunrise by the shores of the Sea of Galilee, visited Mount Carmel and Spring of Harod where we listened to a Bible talk at each location, and saw Herod the Great’s aqueduct along the beach.
Mount Carmel is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea towards the southeast. Archaeologists have discovered ancient wine and oil presses at various locations on Mount Carmel.
In ancient Canaanite culture, high places were frequently considered to be sacred, and Mount Carmel appears to have been no exception; Thutmose III lists a holy headland among his Canaanite territories, and if this equates to Carmel, as Egyptologists such as Maspero believe, then it would indicate that the mountain headland was considered sacred from at least the 15th century B.C.E.
Mount Carmel – Muhraqa Monastery
At the highest peak of Mount Carmel, at 480 m above sea level, a location known as “Keren Carmel” is the site of the Carmelite monastery. The monastery is named after the prophet Elijah, and is known also by the name Muhraqa (Monastery of Fire). According to the Carmelite tradition, this is where Elijah the prophet challenged the prophets of Baal. Next to the monastery there is a sculpture of the prophet Elijah, placed there in 1964 to replace the original sculpture, which was destroyed in 1948. From the roof of the monastery, which is accessible to the public, there is a breathtaking view of the Jezreel Valley and the Gilboa and Galilee Mountains.
Mount Carmel – The Grotto of Elijah
In mainstream Jewish, Christian, and Islamic thought, Elijah is indelibly associated with the mountain, and he is regarded as having sometimes resided in a grotto on the mountain. Indeed, one name for Mount Carmel is Mount Saint Elias.
Mount Carmel – Jezreel Valley
The Jezreel Valley lies to the immediate northeast. The range forms a natural barrier in the landscape, just as the Jezreel Valley forms a natural passageway, and consequently the mountain range and the valley have had a large impact on migration and invasions through the Levant over time. The mountain formation is an admixture of limestone and flint, containing many caves, and covered in several volcanic rocks. The sloped side of the mountain is covered with luxuriant vegetation, including oak, pine, olive, and laurel trees.
Spring of Harod: (where Gideon chose his men)
The Spring of Harod flows from Gideon’s Cave. This is the place where Gidon gathered his men before fighting the Midianites. Judges 7:1 describes the scene, “Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.” It was here that Gideon administered the “water test” as a way of choosing the warriors for the coming battle (Judges 7:4-7).
4 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.
5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.
6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.
7 And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
Caesarea Maritima – Herod the Great's aqueduct
Between the years 22 B.C.E. and 9 B.C.E., Herod the Great created a magnificent city along the northwestern Mediterranean seacoast of Palestine and called it “Caesarea Maritima” after Caesar Augustus, his patron. The man-made harbor was a triumph of ancient engineering, the first large-scale harbor ever built in the open sea. It was engineered using the modern day technique of hydraulic concrete.
Next to the harbor, Herod built a huge temple to Augustus, facing out over the aqua blue water, creating a significant landmark for sailors to bring in their ships. There, a huge aqueduct brought water all the way from Mount Carmel, almost nine miles to the northeast. Remnants of this aqueduct still stand today.