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Bible Dictionaries

Smith's Bible Dictionary

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Tabor The Plain of
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Ta'bor. (a mound). Mount Tabor.

1. One of the most interesting and remarkable of the single mountains in Palestine. It rises abruptly from the northeastern arm of the plain of Esdraelon, and stands entirely insulated, except on the west, where a narrow ridge connects it with the hills of Nazareth. It presents to the eye, as seen from a distance, a beautiful appearance, being symmetrical in its proportions and rounded off like a hemisphere or the segment of a circle, yet varying somewhat as viewed from different directions.

The body of the mountain consists of the peculiar limestone of the country. It is now called Jebel-et-Tur. It lies about six or eight miles almost due east from Nazareth. The ascent is usually made on the west side, near the little village of Deburieh - probably the ancient Daberath, Joshua 19:12 - though it can be made with entire ease in other places. It requires three quarters of an hour or an hour to reach the to the top. The top of Tabor consists of an irregular platform, embracing a circuit of half an hour's walk, and commanding wide views of the subjacent plain from end to end.

Tabor does not occur in the New Testament, but it makes a prominent figure in the Old Testament. The book of Joshua, Joshua 19:22, mentions it as the boundary between Issachar and Zebulun, see Joshua 19:12. Barak, at the command of Deborah, assembled his forces on Tabor, and descended thence, with "ten thousand men after him," into the plain, and conquered Sisera on the banks of the Kishon. Judges 4:6-15. The brothers of Gideon, each of whom "resembled the children of a king," were murdered here, by Zebah and Zalmunna. Judges 8:18-19.

There are, at present, the ruins of a fortress round all the summit of Tabor. The Latin Christians have now an altar here, at which their priests from Nazareth, perform an annual mass. The Greeks also have a chapel, where, on certain festivals, they assemble for the celebration of religious rites.

The idea that our Saviour was transfigured on Tabor prevailed extensively among the early Christians, and still reappears, often, in popular religious works. It is impossible, however, to acquiesce in the correctness of this opinion. It can be proved from the Old Testament, and from later history, that a fortress or town existed on Tabor, from very early times, down to B.C. 53 or 50; and as Josephus says that he strengthened the fortifications there about A.D. 60, it is morally certain that Tabor must have been inhabited during the intervening period that is in the days of Christ. Tabor, therefore, could not have been the Mount of Transfiguration; See Hermon; for when it is said that Jesus took his disciples "up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them", Matthew 17:1-2, we must understand that he brought them to the summit of the mountain, where they were alone by themselves.

2. Tabor is mentioned in the lists of 1 Chronicles 6, as a city of the Merarite Levites, in the tribe of Zebulun. 1 Chronicles 6:77. The list of the towns of Zebulun. Joshua 19, contains the name of Chisloth-tabor. Joshua 19:12. It is, therefore, possible, either that Chisloth-tabor is abbreviated into Tabor by the chronicler, or that, by the time these later lists were compiled, the Merarites had established themselves on the sacred mountain, and that Tabor is Mount Tabor.

Bibliography Information
Smith, William, Dr. Entry for 'Tabor'. Smith's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​sbd/​t/tabor.html. 1901.
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