Mount Hermon, majestic and imposing as it rises almost 10,000 ft above sea level to form a natural border with Israel, Syria and Lebanon. It boasts the only ski resort in Israel (careful which slope you ski down) although the season is somewhat short.
The view from the summit (accessible by cable car in the summer) is magnificent as one can look West toward Rome, one time center of the world (Mediterranean means just that “center of the
earth”); East toward Damascus and the silk route to the Orient: South toward Jerusalem and Africa, and North along the road to Europe that by necessity crosses this natural bridge connecting the three major continents.
Personally, I think, this makes a more likely place for the third temptation of Jesus where the Satan takes the Lord to “a high mountain” and shows him all the kingdoms of this world.(Mt. 4:8-9). Mount Hermon is also a likely candidate for the Transfiguration of the Lord.
Matthew tells us that Jesus and his disciples are in Caesarea, Philippi at the foot of Mount
Hermon and that a few days later Jesus takes Peter, James and John “up a high mountain” (Mt. 17:1-2)) where a cloud covers them (Mt.17:5) and he is transfigured before them. The high altitude on this mountain often results in low level clouds that cover the peak. The slopes of Mount Hermon host over 300 vineyards and although a late starter in the wine world, nonetheless offer some fine wines.
Visitors also find it interesting that there are below sea level olive groves, Mediterranean level olive groves and high level (Mt. Hermon) olives to taste. To the connoisseurs olives the difference in taste is distinguishable. The annual snow fall on Mount Hermon provides a significant amount of water for the River Jordan when it starts to melt in the Spring. Other sources of water on this mountain are at Tel Dan, Banias and Hasbani. Interesting, too, is that some EO groups choose to renew their baptismal vows at the source of the Jordan River, at Banias, rather than farther down - however full immersion is not an option.
EO groups returning from a visit to the GolanHeights are thrilled with their photos and impressed by the mountain, the view and all its history - as well as a visit to the Druze restaurant at Birkit Ram (high pool) for a Labane wrap (goat cheese, olive oil, tzataar on unleavened bread heated on
a hot stone).
Dr. Lee van Rensburg
Tiberias, Sea of Galilee