Often on the first day of a Christian Holy Land tour in Israel, you will find your way moving from the Tel Aviv area up the coast into Northern Israel. That first day many find themselves at one of the most known places in Israel from the time of the Bible, Mt. Carmel.
Mount Carmel is located in the in a range of mountains northwest Israel, with Haifa on it’s northeaster slope. It’s nearly 1800 feet above sea level. It’s beauty is noted through the ages, attracting religious attention, with even the Egyptians calling it a “holy mountain” as far back as 16 bc.
Mount Carmel in the Old Testament
Mount Carmel is mentioned several times in the Old Testament and is the setting for one of the most known stories of the Bible.
The book of Amos identifies it as a place where people who often hide out in its caves. Some are said to have been trying to hide form God himself. The book of Amos says:
“Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, from there I will search out and take them; and though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the sea-serpent, and it shall bite them.” -Amos 9:3
Other biblical verses that speak of Mount Carmel include its use as description for Solomon’s beloved:
Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel.
Your hair is like royal tapestry;
the king is held captive by its tresses. Song of Songs 7:5
If you visit Mount Carmel you will understand why he would use it for a description of her beauty. It would be quite the compliment to her!
The most known passage about Mount Carmel though is the famous story of Elijah and Ahab. In 1 Kings 18, the prophet Elijah challenged Ahab and his prophets of the false gods Baal and Asherah. He told them to meet him on Mount Carmel and each would have a bull for sacrifice on an unlit alter. Whichever alter is miraculously lit would be the true God.
Elijah allowed them the first effort at getting their diety to light the fire. For hours everyone waited as they called out and even cut themselves to get Baal to light the fire. Nothing happened. Famously, Elijah began to sarcastically taunt them. He humorously asked if perhaps he was going to the bathroom or was taking a nap.
Then Elijah took 12 stones to represent the 12 tribes of Israel and built the alter to the LORD. When it was completed, he even doused it in water and then Elijah called upon the LORD to answer him and fire flashed immediately from Heaven, proving to the Israelites that He was the one true God.
Mount Carmel Today
Mount Carmel is now home to a small monastery which provides a lovely outlook over the entire valley below. You can also utilize the gardens for teaching and study.
One of the views includes that of the Kishon brook, where the priests of Baal were all killed.
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