Top 5 Tour Sites Where Biblical Battles Were Fought
Among the most memorable passages in the Bible are those relating to military conflict. Often wrapped up in issues of political intrigue, clashes of cultures and prophetic visions, these battle narratives are compelling and epic. Some of israel's most compelling archeological sites are believed to be the very spots where landmark biblical battles occurred. Read on to learn about five of our favorites.
Few battles capture the imagination as much as the mismatch faceoff between young David and the Philistine warrior Goliath (1 Samuel 17), and few battlefields turn out to be as picturesque. The rolling green hills of Elah now house successful wineries, and the many caves in the area are reminiscent of the Cave of Adullam, where David later hid.
Also known as Tel Lachish, this site saw battle time and time again, thanks to its location and topography. As told in 2 Kings 18 and Isaiah 36, the Assyrian king Sennacherib destroyed the area, and then hundreds of years later, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon did the same. Here you will see a vast panorama and gain deeper understanding of the Judean commander’s fear when he could not see signal fires from Lachish (as found in the “Lachish letters”). Also take note of the excavations of the largest First Temple-era structure found to date.
Another site of many battles, both ancient and relatively recent, Megiddo is likely best known for the battle between good and evil that is yet to come, in the end of days (Revelation 16), known as "Armageddon" (presumed to be a transliteration of Har Megiddo). Not far from Afula, this location is also home to an impressive national park, with archeological finds from throughout antiquity. A museum depicting Megiddo’s history is situated atop the tel, and a stroll through the area will grant you a beautiful view of the Jezre'el Valley as well as the local arbor.
Mount Gilboa saw the battle that led to the deaths of King Saul and his sons, Jonathan, Abinadav, and Malkishua (1 Samuel 31). It is also considered the gateway between the Jezreel Valley and the Jordan Valley, so scenic views abound. Sites to see include the national parks of Ein Harod, the ancient synagogue mosaic of Beit Alpha and the extensive excavations at Beit Shean. If you can visit in March/April, you should be gratified to see the majestic purple Gilboa Iris that graces the Society for the Preservation of Nature as its logo.
As recounted in Judges 4, the prophetess Deborah won battle against the Canaanite general Sisera at Mount Tabor. The hill is now home to many structures worth visiting, including the Church of Transfiguration, based on the (disputed) opinion that Jesus’ transfiguration took place here.