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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Tabor (1)

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TABOR ( MOUNT ). A mountain in the N.E. corner of the plain of Esdraelon, some 7 miles E. of Nazareth. Though only 1843 feet high, Tabor is, from its isolation and remarkable rounded shape, a most prominent object from great distances around; hence, though so very different in size from the great mountain mass of Hermon, it was yet associated with it ( Psalms 89:12 ). It was a king among the mountains ( Jeremiah 46:18 ). It is known to the Arabs as Jebel et-Tûr , lit. ‘the mountain of the mount,’ the same name as is applied to the Mount of Olives. From the summit of Tabor a magnificent outlook is obtained, especially to the W., over the great plain of Esdraelon to the mountains of Samaria and Carmel. It was on the borders of Zebulun and Issachar ( Joshua 19:12 ; Joshua 19:22 ); It was certainly an early sanctuary, i and probably the reference in Deuteronomy 33:18-19 is to this mountain. Here the forces under Deborah and Barak rallied to fight Sisera ( Judges 4:6 ; Judges 4:12 ). Whether the reference in Judges 8:18 is to this mountain is doubtful. In later history Tabor appears chiefly as a fortress. In the 3rd cent. b.c., Antiochus the Great captured the city Atabyrium which was upon Tabor, and afterwards fortified it. Between b.c. 105 and 78 the place was again in Jewish hands, but in b.c. 53 Gabinius here defeated Alexander, son of Aristobulus ii., who was in revolt. A hundred and ten years later Josephus fortified the hill against Vespasian, but after the Jewish soldiers had been defeated by the general Placidus, the place surrendered. During the Crusades it was for long in the hands of the Christians, but fell to the Muslems after the battle of Hattin, and was fortified in 1212 by the successor of Saladin a step which led to the inglorious and ineffectual 5th Crusade.

The tradition that Tabor was the scene of the Transfiguration goes back to the 3rd cent., but has little evidence in its favour. Although not directly recorded, the condition of the hill before and after would lead one to suppose that it was an inhabited site at the time of Christ, while the requirements of the Biblical narrative ( Mark 8:27 ; Mark 9:2-10 , Luke 9:28-36 ) suggest a site near Cæsarea Philippi, such, for example, as an isolated spur of Hermon.

Mount Tabor to-day is one of the best-wooded spots in W. Palestine, groves of oaks and terebinths not only covering the hillsides, but extending also over a considerable area of hill and valley to the N.; game abounds in the coverts. The Franciscans and the Greek Church have each erected a monastery-hospice on the summit, and extensive excavations have been made, particularly by members of the former order. The foundations of a great wall of circumvallation probably that of Josephus ( BJ IV. i. 8) have been followed, many ancient tombs have been cleared, and the remains of several churches of the 4th and of the 12th centuries have been unearthed.

E. W. G. Masterman.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Tabor (1)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/t/tabor-1.html. 1909.

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Sunday, February 23rd, 2020
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