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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
From the broad summit a view of surpassing interest and beauty rewards the climber's toil. Westward beyond the hills and the plain of Sharon with its coast line of yellow sand running from Jaffa to Carmel, stretch the blue waters of the Mediterranean. From Carmel to Gilboa, Little Hermon and Tabor, roll the fruitful breadths of Esdraelon: the uplands of Galilee, with Nazareth showing on the brow above the plain, rise away to the buttresses of Lebanon in the North. From the snowy peak of Hermon the eye ranges over the Jaulan and Mount Gilead to the Mountain of Bashan in the East, with the steep eastern wall of the Jordan valley in the foreground. The land of Moab is visible beyond the Dead Sea; and the heights around Jerusalem close the view on the South.
Round this splendid mountain, seen from afar on all sides, religious associations have gathered from old time. The Moslem Weley on the top - the usual white-domed sanctuary - where it is said the head of the Baptist is buried, is doubtless the modern representative of some ancient seat of worship. The ruins of a church show that Christians also came under the spell of the hill.
The slopes of Ebal toward Gerizim played their part in that memorable scene, when, having conquered the central region of Palestine, Joshua led the people hither, erected an altar of unhewn stones, wrote upon the stones - either engraving on the stone itself, or impressing on plaster placed there for the purpose - a copy of the law, and then, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded, placed half the tribes on the slope of Gerizim, and half on those of Ebal, and the ark with the priests and Levites in the center. Then with dramatic responses from the two divisions of the people, the blessings and the cursings of the law were read (Joshua 8:30; compare Deuteronomy 27:11 ). In all the future, therefore, this mountain, towering aloft in the very heart of the land, would remind beholders far and near of their people's covenant with God. It has sometimes been questioned if the reading of the law could be heard by the people in the way described. The formation of the sides of the valley at the narrowest part, and the acoustics, which have been tested more than once, leave no reasonable doubt as to the possibility.
The importance of the mountain from a military point of view is illustrated by the ruins of a massive fortress found on the summit.
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Ebal, Mount'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/e/ebal-mount.html. 1915.