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Tabor, Mount


A prominent landmark in southern Galilee. Rising on the northeast limit of the Plain of Esdraelon, Mt. Tabor (Heb., har tābôr; Gr., ρος Θαβώρ or ταβύριον; mod. Arabic, Jebel t-ōr) is located five and a half miles south-southeast of Nazareth, where the boundary lines of Issachar, Zebulon, and Nephthali met in former times. Although it rises only to 1,844 feet above sea level, its isolation from the surrounding hills and its steep sides give it an appearance impressive beyond its modest height (Jer 46.18).

Tabor has a long history of military significance. It was at Mt. Tabor that Barac assembled the 10,000 warriors from the northern tribes with which he defeated the forces of Sisara, the Canaanite leader (Jgs 4.1215). The brothers of gideon were killed at Tabor by Zebah and Zalmunna (Jgs 8.1819). In 218 b.c. Antiochus the Great conquered Tabor, as did Alexander Jannaeus in 100 b.c. In 57 b.c. Alexander, the son of Aristobolus, was defeated in battle at its foot by Gabinius, the commander of Pompey. In a.d. 67 Flavius josephus organized a vain resistance on its plateau against Placidus, the lieutenant of Vespasian.

Topped by a plateau 1,239 yards long and 411 yards wide, Tabor has been likened to an altar inviting to worship [cf. Ps 88 (89).13]. The reference in Hos 5.1 seems to indicate that in Israelite times there was a shrine to Yahweh there, and Dt 33.1819 has been interpreted in the same way. Tabor's special interest for Christians lies in the fact that it has been traditionally identified with the mountain of the transfiguration (Mk 9.17). This identification, however, is by no means certain; early tradition was not unanimous on the subject, although the identification was made as early as c. a.d. 150 in the Gospel according to the Hebrews.

Many churches have been built on Mt. Tabor in the course of the ages. The most impressive is the Basilica of the Transfiguration, completed in 1923.

Bibliography: Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963) 242324. c. kopp, The Holy Places of the Gospels, tr. r. walls (New York 1963) 242247. b. meistermann, Le Mont Thabor (Paris 1900).

[p. horvath]

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