Mount Tabor Attractions Har Tavor
Situation and characteristicsMount Tabor, which rises out of the Jezreel plain 21km/13mi northeast of Afula, is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament and is believed to have been the scene of Christ's Transfiguration.The summit of Mount Tabor can be reached on a signposted road which branches off the Afula- Tiberias road at the south end of Kefar Tavor and runs northwest. Another road which goes off the Afula-Tiberias road farther to the south also runs up to the summit by way of the Arab village of Dabburiya. The last few kilometers of the winding road to the summit are not suitable for buses and caravans.HistoryIn the second millennium B.C. there was a Canaanite shrine, a "high place", on Mount Tabor, as there was on other hills like Mount Carmel and Mount Hermon. The god worshipped here was Baal, whose cult spread in the second millennium, as a result of trading links, to the island of Rhodes, where he was worshipped on Mount Atabyrion (1,215m/3,986ft) under the name of Zeus Atabyrios. (Atabyrion was also the Greek name for Mount Tabor).In the time of the Judges (12th century B.C.) the prophetess Deborah and her general Barak mustered their forces on Mount Tabor before launching the victorious onslaught which annihilated Sisera, the king of Hazor's general, "and all his chariots and all his host" (Judges 4,12-16).The significance of Mount Tabor in the history of Christianity began in the fourth century, when it became identified with the "high mountain apart" into which Christ went with his disciples Peter, James and John "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" (Matthew 17; Mark 9,2-13; Luke 9,28-36). Jesus thus appeared to the disciples in his divine form, as the Christ and God's "beloved son". Together with the Resurrection, the Transfiguration became one of the central themes of the theology and iconography of the Eastern church. The appearance of the transfigured Christ in a glory of light also had a decisive influence on the mystical thought of Eastern monasticism: a form of mystical practice, still found on the "holy mountain" of Athos, which seeks through ascetic exercises to be blessed with the "uncreated light" of Mount Tabor and thus to achieve a mystical union with God.The first churches on Mount Tabor were built before 422, and in 553 it became the see of a bishop. From this period dates the large mosaic of the Transfiguration in St Catherine's Monastery on Sinai. There was further building on Mount Tabor, both as a place of pilgrimage and as a fortress, during the Crusader period. The fortress withstood an attack by Saladin in 1191 but was destroyed by Baibars in 1263. In 1631 the Druze emir Fakhr ed-Din granted the summit of the hill to the Franciscans, whose monastery still exists. In 1911 the Greek Orthodox, to whom the northern part of the summit plateau belonged, built a church dedicated to St Elias (Elijah). The large Franciscan church (designed by Antonio Barluzzi) was built in 1921-23.
The Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor contains three grottoes, one of which is the Grotto of Christ.
To the north and south of the Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor are walls belonging to older buildings. From the top of the walls there are views of much of the elliptical summit plateau with its remains of ancient buildings set in luxuriant gardens. Even more rewarding are the wider views of the hills of Nazareth to the west, the Jezreel plain and the hills of Samaria to the south, the Jordan rift valley and the hills of Jordan to the east and the green expanses of Galilee with the Horns of Hittim to the north.
Church of St Elias
On the summit of Mount Tabor the road divides. The road to the left leads to the Greek Orthodox northern part of the plateau and the church of St Elias (1911), built on the site of an earlier Crusader church. The courtyard, in which there is a deep open cistern, has ranges of cells along its north and east sides.
Kafr Kama, Israel
A few kilometers northeast of Mount Tabor is the village of Kafr Kama, established in 1880 by Circassian settlers. At that time many Circassians were leaving Russia because of their Muslim faith, and the Turkish authorities allowed them to settle in their Near Eastern territories, including Amman and Jerash (Gerasa) in what is now Jordan. In Israel, in addition to the village of Kafr Kama, there is another Circassian settlement in Upper Galilee, the village of Rihanya 13km/8mi north of Safed. In 1948 the Circassians sided with Israel, and they now serve in the Israeli army.