Mount Hermon

Mount Hermon

Hermon, Mount, Arabic Jabal Ash Shaykh [mountain of the chief] and Jebel-eth-Thelj [snowy mountain], on the Syria-Lebanon border. The highest of its three peaks (all of which are snow-covered in winter and spring) rises to 9,232 ft (2,814 m). Its seasonal snow melt is important to the headwater flow of the Jordan River. Mt. Hermon, a sacred landmark in ancient Palestine, is mentioned often in the Bible as Hermon, Sion, Senir, and Shenir. The name Baal-Hermon records the reverence in which it was held by the worshipers of Baal. The Romans also revered it, as did the Druze (there is a Druze shrine near Hasbayya). The ancient city of Caesarea Philippi was at its foot. Mt. Hermon is traditionally designated as the scene of the Transfiguration. Israel has possessed Mt. Hermon's southern and western slopes since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. They are used for winter skiing and as observation points for the Israeli military.

Mount Hermon (הר חרמון, Har Hermon, جبل الشيخ,جبل حرمون, Jabal el-Shaiykh, Jabal Haramon,"mountain of the chief" and "snowy mountain") is a mountain in the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. Its highest point is 2,814 m (9,230 feet) above sea level. This summit is on the border between Syria and Lebanon, and is under Syrian control. The southern slopes of Mount Hermon have been in Israeli control since the Six-Day War in 1967. This part of the mountain, as well as the Golan Heights, was unilaterally annexed by Israel in 1981.


The mountain is actually a cluster of mountains with three distinct summits, each about the same height. The Anti-Lebanon range extends for approximately 150 km (93 miles) in a northeast-southwest direction, running parallel to the Lebanon range on the west.

The Hermon range covers an area of about 1000 square km, of which about 70 km² are under Israeli control.

The mountain forms one of the greatest geographic resources of the area. Because of its height it captures a great deal of precipitation in a very dry area of the world. The Jurassic limestone is broken by faults and solution channels to form a karst topography.

Mount Hermon has seasonal snow which covers all three of its peaks for most of the year in winter and spring. Melt water from the snow-covered mountain's western and southern bases seeps into the rock channels and pores, feeding springs at the base of the mountain, which form streams and rivers. These merge to become the Jordan River. Additionally, the runoff facilitates fertile plant life below the snow line, where vineyards and pine, oak, and poplar trees are abundant.

The springs, and the mountain itself, are much contested by the nations of the area for the use of the water. It is important that the government that controls the mountain, as well as the springs below, realize their responsibility to guard against deforestation and pollution.

Mount Hermon is called the "gray-haired mountain," or the "mountain of snow." It is also called "the eyes of the nation" in Israel because its altitude makes it Israel's primary strategic early warning system.העיניים של המדינה

Biblical History

Mount Hermon was called Senir by the Amorites and Sirion by the Sidonians (; ; ; ). The mountain served as the northern boundary of the Promised Land and also was the northern limit of the conquest (, ).

The high places of Mount Hermon were apparently used by the Canaanites in Canaanite mythological rituals. They referred to the mountain as Mount Ba'al-Hermon (). It is also called "Mount Sion".

The Gospels tell of Jesus and his disciples journeying north from Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee to the city of Caesarea Philippi at the southern base of Mount Hermon (). There, Jesus revealed to them his purpose to build his Church and to go to Jerusalem to die and be resurrected ().

Mount Hermon was a possible site of the Transfiguration, where Jesus took three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John, up on a high mountain for prayer. Before their eyes, Jesus was transfigured. He became radiantly white and conversed with Moses and Elijah, who had appeared beside him. The disciples' amazement and fear were further increased, when a voice from Heaven exclaimed, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him!" (; ).

In the Book of Enoch, Mount Hermon is the place where the Grigori ("Watcher") class of fallen angels descended to Earth. They swore upon the mountain that they would take wives among the daughters of men and return (Book of Enoch/Chapter 06).

Contemporary Situation

Since 1981, the Israeli region has been governed under Golan Heights Law. Mount Hermon has Israel's only ski resort, including a wide range of ski trails at novice, intermediate, and expert levels. It also offers additional winter family activities such as sledding and Nordic skiing. Those who operate the Hermon Ski area live in the nearby Israeli moshav of Neve Ativ and the Druze town of Majdal Shams. The ski resort has a ski school, ski patrol, and several restaurants located at either the bottom or peak of the area.

The Israeli sector of the mountain is heavily patrolled by the Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Police, and the Israeli Security Forces maintain a strategic observation post for monitoring Syrian and Lebanese military activity near Mitzpe Shlagim ("Snow Lookout"), which is at an elevation of about 2,224 m (7,300 feet). Its adjacent peak, at 2,236 m, is the highest elevation in Israel.

The Syrian government recently unveiled plans to develop a multi-billion dollar ski resort on the slopes of the mountain.

Since 1996, a small Lebanese group, led by Michel Malik of Rashaya, have climbed to the top of Mount Hermon annually for the feast of Jesus' transfiguration on August 6. The group includes Christians of various denominations as well as Druze. In spite of its religious diversity, the group is Christ-centered, and most of its members participate in the Maronite mass celebrated on the mountaintop.

In 2005 the municipality of Rashaya constructed a road for jeeps that reaches an altitude of 2,400 m. There are mixed opinions about the environmental and cultural aspects of this road, as well as its utility and necessity. The municipality was also behind building a camping site and organizing trips to the top. For the past few years the climb to Mount Hermon has been receiving publicity due to newspaper articles and television news coverage. The 2006 climb was cancelled on account of war.

Israeli villages

In the Israeli slopes of the mountain there are three villages: Majdal Shams (Druze), Neve Ativ and Nimrod.

Lebanese villages

On the western Lebanese slopes of the mountain complex are the following villages: Rachaya Al Foukhar, Kfar Hamam, Chebaa, Kfar Chouba, Hebbariyeh, El Mari, Khalouat El Bayada and Majidiyeh.

External links

See also

Several places have taken their name from this mountain. These include:


  • Julien Aliquot, "Sanctuaries and villages on Mt Hermon during the Roman period," in The Variety of Local Religious Life in the Near East in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods. Ed. by T. Kaizer. (Leiden, Brill, 2008) (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, 164.

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