Mountains in the Bible

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Mountains in the Bible Map

The Bible states that God is the divine Creator of mountains (Amos 4:13) and made them so that he could be praised (Psalm 148:9). He causes them to tremble and shake (Isaiah 64:1, Nahum 1:5, Habakkuk 3:10), smoke (Psalm 104:32, 144:5), melt and crumble (Judges 5:5, Habakkuk 3:6, Micah 1:4), and be set on fire (Deuteronomy 32:22).

Mountains can help defend a city (Psalm 125:2) or provide a place of safety and refuge in times of trouble (Genesis 14:10, Judges 6:2, Matthew 24:16). While they, at times, have been locations where the true God of the Bible has been worshipped (Genesis 22:2, 5, Exodus 3:12), other times they have been places where false deities were honored (Deuteronomy 12:2, 2Chronicles 21:11).

Mountains, in Scripture, can take on several symbolic meanings depending on the context. They can symbolize difficulties and obstacles (Matthew 17:20), a righteous king who rules (Psalm 72:1 - 3) or nations of the world (Revelation 17:9). They can also be symbolic of God's kingdom ruling over the entire earth (Daniel 2:35, Isaiah 2:2), which will commence at Jesus' Second Coming.

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Division of Promised Land Map

Ararat

Mt. Ararat (not shown on map) is the place where Noah's Ark landed after the great flood (Genesis 8:4). The mountain, historically linked with Armenia, is today within the far eastern portion of Turkey due to treaties made in the first half of the twentieth century. According to the CIA Factbook, the mount is the highest point in Turkey at 5,166 meters (about 16,948 feet).

Carmel

Carmel is the place of the climactic battle between Elijah, representing the true God of Israel, and the false prophets of Baal and Asherah (1Kings 18). These pagan prophets were supported by Israel's evil King Ahab and his notorious wife Jezebel. After God, through Elijah, performed a tremendous miracle on the mount, those who led Israel into worshipping false deities were executed.

Ebal

Joshua was commanded, after he led the Israelites into Canaan (the land of promise), to place six of Israel's tribes on Mt. Ebal and six on Mt. Gerizim. The tribe of Levi, as well as the Ark of the Covenant, was to be located in the valley between the two mountains. Those on Gerizim were commanded to shout blessings on those who obey God's laws and those on Ebal were to pronounce curses on those who disobey. The people, after every curse, were commanded to say "Amen!" (Deuteronomy 11:29, 27:12 - 26, 28:1 - 68, Joshua 8:33).

Ephraim

Most KJV Old Testament passages that use the term "mount Ephraim" are actually referencing different locations within a range of mountains that run from Bethel to the valley of Jezreel (Easton's Illustrated Bible Dictionary). For example, the cities of Shamir (Judges 10:1), Shechem (Joshua 20:7, 1Kings 12:25), Timnathserah (Joshua 19:50), Ramah and Bethel (Judges 4:5) are stated to be built on the mount (meaning the general region).

It is in these mountains that Joshua, who led Israel into Canaan, and Eleazar, the second High Priest to serve Israel, are buried (Joshua 24:30, 33). Tola, a judge of Israel, is also buried in this elevated part of the country (Judges 10:1 - 2). Samuel the prophet was born in this mountainous area (1Samuel 1) and Deborah, a prophetess, judged Israel from this area (Judges 4:5).

Gerizim

In New Testament times Mt. Gerizim, located in Samaria, was considered holy by the Samaritans and a place they used for worship (John 4:20). Jesus visited the area when he went to Sychar (anciently called Shechem) and asked a woman to give him water from Jacob's Well. Their discussion ultimately led to many people in the area believing Christ was the Messiah (John 4:4 - 42). See also listing for Mt. Ebal above.

Gilboa

Mount Gilboa is the place where Israel's first human king, Saul, and his son Jonathan (who was David's closest friend), were killed while battling the Philistines (1Samuel 31:1 - 6).

Hor

Edom's Mount Hor is the place where Israel's first High Priest, Aaron, was divested of his priestly garments, died, and was buried (Numbers 20:23 - 29). He, as well as Moses, were not allowed to enter the Promised Land (Canaan) due to a sin they committed.

Moriah

Moriah is the mountain where God, in testing Abraham's faith, commanded that he sacrifice his only son Isaac (Genesis 22:1 - 18). It is where the angel of the Lord, who was about to destroy Jerusalem because of a sin committed by King David, was stopped due to God's mercy (1Chronicles 21). King Solomon selected this location on which to build God's magnificent temple (2Chronicles 3:1). It is one of Jerusalem's seven mountains.

Nebo

Although Moses was not allowed to enter the land promised to Israel, the Eternal allowed him to view it from the top of Mt. Nebo (Deuteronomy 32:49). After viewing Israel's inheritance, he dies on the mountain at the age of 120 (Deuteronomy 34:5 - 7). God himself buries his body in a location unknown to humans (but known to Satan). Scripture seems to indicate that references to Mt. Pisgah are synonymous with Nebo (Deuteronomy 34:1).

Olivet

The first Biblical mention of Olivet (Mount of Olives) occurs in 2Samuel 15:30 when King David, fleeing from his son Absalom, weeps as he ascends the hill. Old Testament prophecy states that the Lord, when he returns to earth the second time, will land at this location and split it in two (Zechariah 14:4). It is considered one of the seven mountains (hills) of Jerusalem.

In the New Testament, Olivet is the place where Christ wept over Jerusalem's impending destruction (Luke 19:37 - 44) and revealed to the disciples what will happen in the end time (Matthew 24 - 25). Jesus, after his last Passover, gave his disciples some final teachings as he led them to the Garden of Gethsemane, which lies at the foot of Olivet (Matthew 26:30 - 56).

Sinai (Horeb)

Old Testament references to Mt. Horeb are synonymous with Mt. Sinai (see 2Chronicles 5:10, Malachi 4:4). Sinai (not shown on map) is the place where Moses saw the miracle of a bush on fire but not consumed, and received his commission to free God's people from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 3 - 4). It is where God gave the children of Israel (and all humans) the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and other laws to follow. The prophet Elijah, fearing the fury of Israel's Queen Jezebel, fled to the mountain (1Kings 19:1 - 21). The likely location of Sinai is in the southern portion of today's Sinai Peninsula.

Tabor

Mt. Tabor is where the Israelite forces of Deborah and Barak defeated Sisera, who was the military commander of King Jabin's army (Judges 4 - 5). The victory freed the people from Jabin's twenty years of oppression. The Catholic Church believes that it was on Tabor that Christ was changed (commonly called "the transfiguration") into his glorified form in front of Peter, James and John (Matthew 17:1 - 9).

Zion (Sion)

Mt. Zion (Sion) was part of the original city of Jebus (renamed Jerusalem) conquered and ruled by King David. It is one of the seven mountains on which the city rests. David not only built his royal palace on the mount he is also buried in it (1Kings 2:10, Acts 2:29). In Scripture, Zion can refer to the city in its entirety (1Kings 8:1, Zechariah 9:13) or to the "heavenly Jerusalem" where Christians will reside (Hebrews 12:22 - 23, Revelation 14:1).

Other places

Please note that this is not a complete list of all Biblical mountains. Other mounts such as Bethel (Joshua 16:1), Esau (Obadiah 1:19), Gilead (Genesis 31:21), Hermon (Deuteronomy 3:8), Lebanon (Judges 3:3), Paran (Deuteronomy 33:2), Seir (Genesis 14:6) and still others are found in Scripture.

Additional Study Materials
Symbolism in Scripture
Map of Jerusalem's seven hills (mountains)
Kings of Israel and Judah

Primary Sources
AMG's Encyclopedia of Bible Facts
Wikipedia


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Mountains in the Bible