Glimpses of Israel - Mt Hermon

by Joseph Hunting

Mount Hermon lifts its lofty head 9,100 feet above sea level and marks the northern boundary of the land of Canaan captured by Joshua. In those days Hermon was inhabited by giants who reigned over this rugged area north of Galilee. (Joshua 12:4,5).

Hermon is usually snow-capped from four to six months of the year and is a winter playground for ski enthusiasts. The ascent to the summit of Hermon affords glorious views of the foothills and valleys of a countryside that hasn't changed over the centuries. The giant king Og, king of Bashan was vanquished here by the Israelites. Many centuries later the Romans built their outposts in this region, to be followed by other conquerors who left their monuments in stone ramparts, some of which still stand. We feel an eerie presence as we explore the massive ruins of the Nimrod castle built by the Crusaders and drink in one of the most spectacular views to be had in all Israel.

Apart from its awesome beauty Mount Hermon plays an important role in balancing the climate of Israel and providing much of its water. In summer it is instrumental in providing heavy dew that relieves the parched conditions in the lowlands. The Psalmist was aware of this important aspect of Hermon's effect on Israel's climatic condition. "As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended on the mountains of Zion ..." (Psalm 133:3).

The snows that fall upon Hermon thaw each spring and the run-off flows from several tributaries into the Jordan which in turn empties into the Sea of Galilee forming a vast natural reservoir for Israel's national water scheme. In ancient times the snow waters flooded the river as far down as Jericho. It is interesting to note that the river was in full flood when the Israelites crossed the Jordan after the waters parted for them. (Joshua chapter 3).

Much of Mount Hermon is limestone and the melting snow seeps into underground catchments. These in turn feed the many springs that perennially feed the Jordan.

Some Bible scholars believe that it was on Mount Hermon that Messiah revealed His glory. "And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, James and John, and leadeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow ..." (Mark 9:2-3).