Mount Gilboa Har Gilboa
Situation and characteristicsMount Gilboa, an outlier of the hills of Samaria, bounds the Jezreel plain on the southeast. Rising to a height of 508m/1,667ft above sea level, its summit is 628m/2,060ft above the town of Bet Shean, which lies 120m/393ft below sea level.From the Afula-Bet Shean road a winding track runs up to the summit. The summit itself is a military area closed to the public, but there are good views on the way up.HistoryMount Gilboa was the scene of a tragic event in Jewish history. Here King Saul assembled his army for battle with the Philistines, who were encamped at Shunam, and consulted the witch of Endor. As the witch had foretold, the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines. Saul's sons Abinadab and Malchi-shua were killed; Saul, in despair, fell on his sword, and the victorious Philistines hung his body from the walls of Beth-shan (1 Samuel 31,1-12). David lamented over his death: "Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you..., for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away" (2 Samuel 1,21).
Gan HaShelosha National Park
The Gan HaShelosha National Park ("Park of the Three") lies under the north side of Mount Gilboa, between Bet Shean and Bet Alfa, (restaurant, picnic areas), with pools and natural waterfalls. The water of the falls was formerly used to drive a watermill. There is good swimming in the large pools above the falls.
Ma'ayan Harod National Park
10km/6mi southeast of Afula near the village of Gidona (founded 1949), at the foot of Mount Gilboa, is the Ma'ayan Harod National Park (camping site, youth hostel), with an artificial lake (swimming pool) surrounded by eucalyptus trees in which is the source of the river Harod. The spring at Harod is believed to be the "well of Harod" at which Gideon selected the three hundred men with whom he defeated the Midianites (Judges 7,5-7). In the Middle Ages this was the scene of another battle (1260), in which the Mameluke general Baibars won a decisive victory over the Mongols, who had advanced as far as Gaza, and drove them back into northern Syria. After this victory he became Sultan of Egypt and Syria.
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