mount tabor in the bible

Mount Tabor in the Bible

Mount Tabor in the Bible is in Galilee, on the eastern edge of the Jezreel Plain in northern Israel. Due to its isolated location and height of 588 meters, it is very distinctive and can be seen from afar. The peak is several hundred meters above the surrounding landscape and is still a destination for Greek Orthodox pilgrims and tourists today. In the second millennium BC, the Canaanites worshiped the god Baal there. And the mountain is also mentioned in the Old Testament. On Mount Tabor, in the 6th century AD, three churches were built; in the 9th century, even four churches are said to have stood here.

 In 55 BC BC, an army of 30,000 rebels led by Alexander, the son of the Hasmonean Aristobulus II, against the Roman rule on Mount Tabor was crushed by Aulus Gabinius, governor of the province of Syria. Christian tradition connects the transfiguration of the Lord with Tabor. According to the biblical account, Jesus appeared to his disciples in his divine form (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9). The light they saw is called the Tabor light.

Where is Mount Tabor located?

So, Mount Tabor in the Bible is located at the end of the Esdraelon plain about 20 km southwest of Lake Tiberias and 7 km southwest of Nazareth, as the crow flies. And stands alone on the plain (660 m high). Its strategic importance, the greenery that covers it, its singularity, and the glance that can be enjoyed from the summit of the surrounding region. It has always fascinated the traveler and the pilgrim and could not remain unknown in the chosen people’s history.

In ancient times pagan cults were practiced on Mount Tabor. One scholar, Hertzberg, claims that Tabor housed one of the oldest and most popular sanctuaries in pre-Israelite Palestine. On this mountain, the worship of the baals, gods of fertility and justice, was practiced. Other scholars think Mount Tabor was dedicated to the metal craftsman god, Tammuz.

The Old Testament mentions Mount Tabor several times. In the book of Joshua, he places sixteen cities in the territory of Issachar and specifies that the border touched the Tabor, which came to be at the point where the walls of the three tribes converged. 

As for other people, the mountain had a sacred character for the Jews. We think of Sinai, where God gave Moses the tablets of the law, and Horeb, where Elijah went up to experience God. And Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Indeed, Tabor imposed itself in the worship and mind of the Israelites as a particular place.

Tabor is mentioned in the book of Judges in the episode of the prophetess Deborah(Jg 4-5). Deborah urges Barak to rally the troops on the mountain against the Canaanite general Sìsara. On the Tabor, the Midianites’ leaders kill the Gideon brothers. We still find Mount Tabor mentioned in 1Sam 10.3. Samuel orders Saul, recently anointed king, to go to the ” Oak of Tabor ” in Bethel’s region. ” Even if some translations report Debora’s oaks referring to Jg 4,5.

What happened on Mount Tabor?

According to one of the many traditions, the meeting between the mythical Melchizedek and Abraham took place on Mount Tabor in the Bible. In the book of Genesis, it is reported that when Abraham ” was back. After the defeat of Chedorlaòmer and the kings with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in the valley of Save. That is the valley of the King. Meanwhile, Melchisedek, king of Salem, offered bread and wine: he was a priest of the Highest God and blessed Abram with these words: Blessed be Abram of the Highest God. Creator of Heaven and Earth, and blessed be the Highest God. Who has handed over your enemies ” (Gen 14: 17-20).

According to the Babylonian Talmud, Mount Tabor is taken to measure of greatness: “There was an animal so large that it did not fit into the ark; how big was it? It was as big as Tabor; and how big is Tabor? Forty parasangs (30Km) “. A Hebrew account refers to Deut. 33.19 about the sacrifices of justice maintains that Tabor is the mountain on which the Temple was to be built. By right, “were it not for an express revelation ordering to erect the sanctuary on Mount Moria ( Jerusalem).” Indeed, according to tradition, in future times, God will make the heavenly Jerusalem descend on these four mountains: Tabor, Hermon, Carmel, and Sinai.

mount tabor in the bible

Representation of Mount Tabor in the Bible

Battle of Hattin in the Bible

Around 1099 Benedictine monks settled on Mount Tabor. After the Battle of Hattin in 1187 and the Crusaders’ defeat, they were driven out by the Muslim Ayyubids. In 1241, Mount Tabor again came under the control of the Crusaders. They provided the summit plateau with a ring wall, some of which can still be seen today. Indeed, around 1263 AD, the chapels built by the Benedictines were destroyed by Sultan Baybars.

Today there are two churches, a monastery on Mount Tabor, and some remains of ancient and medieval fortifications. In the biblical tradition, Mount Tabor is the mountain of the world: Hebrew tabor means “navel (of the world).” Chris.” and associate the transfiguration of the Lord with him. Jesus appeared to his disciples in a divine form on the “ Mountain of Transfiguration ” (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9). 

Primary Takeaways

Numerous fortifications from the Middle Ages were named Tabor after the mountain, often sites of fortified churches. Cities in Europe were also named after this mountain. Also, in 1217 the town of Montabaur in Rhineland-Palatinate, and in 1423. At the time of the Hussite wars in Bohemia, Tábor was called a “settlement of the transfigured.” A Mont Thabor exists in the French Alps, south of Savoy, on the Rhône – Durance watershed. On its 3181-meter-high peak stands a chapel that, according to local tradition, dates back to the 11th century originates.


We find Mount Tabor mentioned in the prophet Jeremiah. He considers it, together with Carmel, a symbol of pre-eminence. In fact, in the prophecies against the nations, Jeremiah underlines the superiority of Nebuchadnezzar. Therefore, by comparing him to the two mountains: ” For my life – oracle of the king whose name is Lord of hosts. Therefore, someone like Tabor will come among the mountains, like Carmel by the sea ” (Jer 46.18). Indeed, in the Bible and other religions, the mountain evokes a mysterious presence of divinity. The god manifests himself on the mountain, and men love to worship the gods.

But, on Mount Tabor, the Christian tradition places the episode of the transfiguration of Jesus described in the synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This episode in the life of Jesus reveals to the disciples who he is.

Transfiguring himself, he shows his divinity, Luke in the Gospel says: “They saw his glory”(Lk 9:32). In the synoptic gospels, in the Acts of the Apostles, and the letters of St. Paul, glory (in Hebrew Kabod, in Greek Doxa ) indicates the radiant and also heavenly state of the Lord exalted at the moment of the Resurrection and Ascension. Also, the transfiguration at Tabor is a kind of anticipation.