Tent Pegs, Tents and Transfiguration: 5 Insightful Sites at Mount Tabor

Tent Pegs, Tents and Transfiguration

5 Insightful Sites at Mount Tabor

This strategically-located mountain is the setting of two biblical stories, one from the Old Testament and one from New Testament. 

3 of the 5 insights below you'll get when you visit Mount Tabor will give you a better understanding of how the ancient Israelites were able to defeat a strong enemy. 

The last 2 will transport you to the time of Jesus and to a significant event in his life.

1) Sit where the ancient Israelites encamped before a battle with the Canaanites.

One of the stories in the book of Judges is the story of Deborah, a female judge (or military leader) of Israel; Barak, the commander of the Israelite army; and Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army. In Judges 4:6b-7, the Lord commanded Barak to “‘Go and march to Mount Tabor and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun.’” Read more in Judges 4 about this fascinating story.

2) Take in a tremendous view of the Jezreel Valley.

Why is this important? The Jezreel Valley is home to seven passes, both north-south and east-west, which allow one to travel from Israel’s coast on the west to the mountains on the east. In ancient times, when kings and armies traveled from Mesopotamia to Egypt, they travel through the Jezreel Valley. 

Mount Tabor is located in Lower Galilee at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley. Judges 4:12-13 tells us that Sisera heard that the Israelites were at Mount Tabor so he and his men headed out. Through where would they have to travel? The Jezreel Valley. From their vantage point camping on Mount Tabor, the Israelites saw Sisera and his army approaching.

3) Imagine your chariot stuck in the mud.

Sisera met his demise at the hands of Jael, who put a tent peg through his temple!

As mentioned in insight 2 above, Sisera and his army had to pass through the Jezreel Valley. Judges 5:19 tells us that Sisera and the Canaanites gathered “at Taanach near the waters of Megiddo,” and from there headed toward Mount Tabor. The Kishon Stream also runs along this route. The significance? The Kishon is a poorly-drained streambed.

When it rains, it floods.

Judges 5:20 suggests that during the battle between the Canaanites and the Israelites the Kishon floods and became a torrent!

The Canaanites with their 900 chariots (Judges 4:13) were stuck in the mud and unable to fight from their chariots as was their custom. The Israelites, who were on foot, took advantage of this and according to Judges 4:15-17, “the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots” and all of the army perished by the sword, except Sisera who fled to the tent of Jael, where he thought he would be safe. He thought wrong.

Sisera met his demise at the hands of Jael, who put a tent peg through his temple (Judges 4:21)!

4) Gaze at Nazareth from the mountaintop. 

The city of Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, is located 9 kilometers or approximately 5-1/2 miles west of Mount Tabor. Thus, on a clear day, you will be able to see Nazareth from atop Mount Tabor.

5) Stand at the traditional site of the Transfiguration of Jesus.

The account of the Transfiguration of Jesus can be found in the Matthew 17:1-8. (See also Mark 9 and Luke 9). Jesus takes Peter, James and John with him “up on a high mountain.” Although the biblical text does not name the mountain which Jesus and his disciples ascended, Origen in the 3rd century A.D. identified Mount Tabor as the location. While they are on the mountain, Jesus is “transfigured before them: His face [shines] like the sun, and His garments [become] as white as light.” In his transfigured state, Jesus speaks with Moses and Elijah. Can you imagine the disciples at this point? Of course Peter is the only one who speaks, and what is his thought? To build tents for each one of them—one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah! Then the disciples hear the voice of God the Father from the clouds declaring: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

At this point no one speaks, but rather the disciples fall on their faces terrified. How will you feel when you stand at the place this happened? Choose an upcoming tour and find out for yourself!