Mount Tabor– sentinel of the Valleys.
It stands very high like a solitary faithful guardian where the beautiful Jezreal Valley and the lower Galilee meet. Its distinct perfect round form demands our attention.
Mount Tabor is an ancient Horst (a geological term for a mountain that pushed its way up above the cooling earth’s crust when the surface was first forming) that has determined the fate of empires in this area.
We read about this mountain in the Book of Joshua ( 19:22) as he leads the twelve tribesin the conquest of the Promised Land three thousand five hundred yearsago. This was determined to be the border between three tribes; Zebulen, Issachar and Naphtali.
We know that Joshua’s conquests were not complete, impressive though they were. The Bible tells us that Pagan peoples were allowed to remain in the land after submitting to Israelite rule and taxation. This concession is critiqued by the Bible. We can assume that they were not allowed to practice idol worship in public, though we know that some f hundred years later, the expulsion of the ten tribes from this northern part of the land, was partly because they sometimes did ape their heathen neighbors.. It was just this that the prophets beseeched the Jews to forfeit.
Mount tabor was supposed to witness the sound defeat of the northern tribes under the wheels of Cicero’s nine hundred iron chariots. Armed with farm implements, the Jews asked Devorah the judge to lead them. She summoned Barak ben Avinoam and instructed him to lead the Jewish force of irregulars and farmers against the Canaanite military machine. Mt Tabor was of Cesaro’s plan to squash the ragged Jewish resistance. But as the Psalms say, “Some with chariots and some with horses, but we, with the name of God”
And so it was.
The nine hundred chariots stormed down the mountain – but their wheels were abruptly stopped by the winter mud in the Kishon stream. Now the chariots were death traps.
It was a complete rout.
Cicero fled alone and sought refuge in the tent of Yael of the Kenizy tribe, an ally of the Canaanites . She beckoned him and promised to protect him from his pursuers. He asked for water . She gave him milk and when he was asleep she finished the tyrant off.
And the Jews enjoyed peace for another forty years.
In the waning years of the Maccabean dynasty, when it was Rome that was really calling the shots, Alexander the Macabee, a great grand son of those that defeated the Greeks, made one last attempt to secure independence. He gathered an army of 31,000 and fought a series of battles on and the foot of Mt Tabor. He lost 10,000 of his men, was captured and executed. There would be yet another two giant revolts against Rome before the Jews were sent into exile, to return only in the last century.
Meanwhile empires rose and fell at the foot of the lone round mountain.
The crusaders slugged it out with the Mamluks,The Mamlukswith the Mongols and Napoleon with the Ottoman Turks.
In 1799 Napoleon invaded Egypt. He wanted to cut off British shipping in the Mediterranean and win lots of glory. Was he less than Alexander or Caesar?
Shrewd politician that he was, he allowed a rumor to spread that he was interested in converting to Islam. All the dignitaries and military leaders of Egypt were invited to a banquet and there they were beheaded. The rest was easy.
He continued his conquests up the Sinai coast to Jafa ,and then Acco. There he was stopped by the British Turkish combined forces. However to secure his rear he sent his trusty general Kleber to head off Turkish reinforcements coming fast from Damascus. At the foot of Mount Tabor, fifteen hundred French troops formed two tight squares and fended off thirty five thousand Turks. The results were staggering. The French lost two dead and sixty wounded. The Turks lost six thousand and five hundred were captured. Sounds like the Six Day War!
When the Jewish Renaissance finally shrugged off the dust of exile, some of her children settled at the foot of the biblical mountain.. In 1901 Kfar Tabor was established by these determined pioneers. The few , cleared the way for the rest of the nation.
At first, they hired Arab Bedouins to guard their property from other Bedouin thieves but it was like having the cat guard the milk.
Finally for the first time since the Bar Kochba revolt nineteen hundred years earlier, these young revolutionaries founded the “Hashomer” – the “watch men”. Jews actually arned to protect Jews. They planted the seeds of the Israel Defense Forces of two generations later.
The Jewish reawakening had begun – and the solitary mountain was there to welcome them home.
In 1799, Napoleon conquered Egypt. Shrewd politician that he was, he spread a rumor that he was interested in converting to Islam. He honored the local political and military leadership for a banquet – and proceeded to beheaded them. The rest was simple.
Advancing along the Sinai coast he stormed the city of Jaffa and was finally stopped at he walls of Acco by a combined Turkish – British force. To protect his back from a large Turkish force bearing down from Damascus, he sent his trusted general Kleeber to meet the Turks at the foot of Mt Tabor. There his 1.500 men formed two tight squares and held of 35,000 Turks. The Turks retreated after losing 6,000 men and five hundred captured. The French lost two dead and sixty wounded. Sounds like the Six Day war!
In the First world war the British defeated the combined Turkish – German forces and put an end to Four hundred years of Ottoman rule in the land of Israel.
In 1901 a handful of young Zionist pioneers left the long exile and put down roots at the foot of the biblical mountain. At first they hired Bedouin Arabs to guard the fruits of their hard labor. However it was like having the cat guard the milk.Thus the first Jewish armed group since Bar Cochba, was formed. Hashomer – the watch men. They planted the seeds of the IDE for a later generation
Kfar Tabor struggled fought and prospered under the watchful gaze of the mountain of Deborah and Barak who would have been proud of them.