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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Tabor

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a mountain not far from Kadesh, in the tribe of Zebulun, and in the confines of Issachar and Naphtali. It has its name from its eminence, because it rises up in the midst of a wide champaign country, called the Valley of Jezreel, or the great plain. Maundrell tells us that the area at the top of this mountain is enclosed with trees, except to the south, from whence there is the most agreeable prospect in the world. Many have believed that our Lord's transfiguration took place on this mountain. This place is mentioned, 1 Samuel 10:3 . It is minutely described by both Pococke and Maundrell. The road from Nazareth lies for two hours between low hills; it then opens into the plain of Esdraelon. At about two or three furlongs within the plain, and six miles from Nazareth, rises this singular mount, which is almost entirely insulated, its figure representing a half sphere. "It is," says Pococke, "one of the finest hills I ever beheld, being a rich soil that produces excellent herbage, and is most beautifully adorned with groves and clumps of trees. The ascent is so easy, that we rode up the north side by a winding road. Some authors mention it as near four miles high, others as about two: the former may be true, as to the winding ascent up the hill. The top of it, about half a mile long, and near a quarter of a mile broad, is encompassed with a wall, which Josephus says was built in forty days: there was also a wall along the middle of it, which divided the south part, on which the city stood, from the north part, which is lower, and is called the meidan, or place, being probably used for exercises when there was a city here, which Josephus mentions by the name of Ataburion. Within the outer wall on the north side are several deep fosses, out of which, it is probable, the stones were dug to build the walls; and these fosses seem to have answered the end of cisterns, to preserve the rain water, and were also some defence to the city. There are likewise a great number of cisterns under ground for preserving the rain water. To the south, where the ascent was most easy, there are fosses cut on the outside, to render the access to the walls more difficult. Some of the gates, also, of the old city remain, as Bab-el-houah, ‘the gate of the winds,' to the west; and Bab-el-kubbe, ‘the arched gate,' a small one to the south. Antiochus, king of Syria, took the fortress on the top of this hill. Vespasian, also, got possession of it; and, after that, Josephus fortified it with strong walls. But what has made it more famous than any thing else is the common opinion, from the time of St. Jerom, that the transfiguration of our Saviour was on this mountain." Van Egmont and Heyman give the following account:

"This mountain, though somewhat rugged and difficult, we ascended on horseback, making several circuits round it, which took us up about three quarters of an hour. It is one of the highest in the whole country, being thirty stadia, or about four English miles, a circumstance that rendered it more famous. And it is the most beautiful I ever saw, with regard to verdure, being every where decorated with small oak trees, and the ground universally enamelled with a variety of plants and flowers, except on the south side, where it is not so fully covered with verdure. On this mountain are great numbers of red partridges, and some wild boars; and we were so fortunate as to see the Arabs hunting them. We left, but not without reluctancy, this delightful place, and found at the bottom of it a mean village, called Deboura, or Tabour, a name said to be derived from the celebrated Deborah mentioned in Judges."

Pococke notices this village, which stands on a rising ground at the foot of Mount Tabor westward; and the learned traveller thinks, that it may be the same as the Daberath, or Daberah mentioned in the book of Joshua, as on the borders of Zabulon and Issachar. "Any one," he adds, "who examines the fourth chapter of Judges, may see that this is probably the spot where Barak and Deborah met at Mount Tabor with their forces, and went to pursue Sisera; and on this account, it might have its name from that great prophetess, who then judged and governed Israel; for Josephus relates, that Deborah and Barak gathered the army together at this mountain."

"From the top of Tabor," says Maundrell, "you have a prospect which, if nothing else, will reward the labour of ascending it. It is impossible for man's eyes to behold a higher gratification of this nature. On the north- west you discern at a distance the Mediterranean, and all round you have the spacious and beautiful plains of Esdraelon and Galilee. Turning a little southward, you have in view the high mountains of Gilboa, fatal to Saul and his sons. Due east you discover the sea of Tiberias, distant about one day's journey. A few points to the north appears that which they call the mount of Beatitudes. Not far from this little hill is the city Saphet: it stands upon a very eminent and conspicuous mountain, and is seen far and near." Beyond this is seen a much higher mountain, capped with snow, a part of the chain of Antilibanus. To the south-west is Carmel, and on the south the hills of Samaria.


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Tabor'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/t/tabor.html. 1831-2.

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