“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” (Matthew 17:1-3).

Mount Tabor

Mount Tabor is located in the Lower Galilee of Israel at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley and is close to the Nazareth Mountains but consider a separate formation. Roughly 11 miles (18 km) west of the Sea of Galilee it stands at 1,886 ft. It is geological formation is known as a “monadnock” which is an isolated rock hill or small mountain that rises out of a virtually level surrounding plain. Mount Tabor rock formation is of granite and along with its dome like formation it is also known as a bornhardt. At the foot of Mount Tabor roads along crossed along the the Via Maris trade route from the the Jezreel Valley northward towards Damascus. Its prime location and unique formation made it a stragetic landmark throughout history in both trade and in wars.

The Church of the Transfiguration is a Franciscan Church located on the peak of Mount Tabor. The church contains three caverns belonging to the Crusader church. There are three chapels called tabernacles and one small altar. The three huts represent what Peter desired to build: one for Jesus (mosaic above the small alter), one for Moses and the other for Elijah. There is a chapel in each of the two towers at the western end of the church called the Chapel of Elijah and the Chapel of Moses. There is an Eastern Greek Orthodox sanctuary located on the northeast side of the Church of the Transfiguration called the Abbey of the Savior’s Mount of Metamorphosis).

Mount Tabor is referred in scripture in a glorious poetic-prophetic tense. “As surely as I live, says the King, whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, one is coming against Egypt who is as tall as Mount Tabor, or as Mount Carmel by the sea!” (Jeremiah 46:18). “The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours; everything in the world is yours—you created it all. You created north and south. Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon praise your name. Powerful is your arm! Strong is your hand! Your right hand is lifted high in glorious strength.” (Psalm 89:11-13).

The battle recorded in Judges 4 between Barak (under the leadership of Deborah the Judge) and Jabin commanded by Sisear was a victory but because of Barak’s disobedience to the Word of the Lord the victory for the sold the Sisera into the hand of a woman named Jael. “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand? And Barak said to her, If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go! So she said, I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, and Deborah went up with him. Now Heber the Kenite, of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, had separated himself from the Kenites and pitched his tent near the terebinth tree at Zaanaim, which is beside Kedesh. And they reported to Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. So Sisera gathered together all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth Hagoyim to the River Kishon. Then Deborah said to Barak, Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you? So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth Hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left. However, Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear. And when he had turned aside with her into the tent, she covered him with a blanket. Then he said to her, Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty. So she opened a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him. And he said to her, Stand at the door of the tent, and if any man comes and inquires of you, and says, Is there any man here?’ you shall say, No. Then Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went down into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. And then, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, Come, I will show you the man whom you seek. And when he went into her tent, there lay Sisera, dead with the peg in his temple.” (Judges 4:4-22).

Mount Tabor is the traditional site of Jesus’ transfiguration when He was transformed into “light”. “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him! And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and do not be afraid. When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36).

During the days of the Second Temple it was one of the mountains used to “light beacons”, the purpose was to inform the northern villages of Jewish Holy Days and the beginning of new months.