The Hike the Bible series is currently covering points of interest along two hiking trails through Galilee, the 40-mile Jesus Trail and the 39-mile Gospel Trail. These two trails re-create possible routes Jesus likely traversed during His sojourns in Galilee.
After discussing the Galilean points of interest, this Hike the Bible series will continue with reviews of other major hiking trails in the Lands of the Bible.
Our virtual hike along the Jesus Trail from Nazareth toward Capernaum reaches the Arbel Cliffs today. We have covered about 29 miles so far. Arbel is not on the main Gospel Trail, because the hike up and down Arbel is too strenuous.
The Arbel Cliffs, while only 594 ft above sea level, tower strategically 1,275 ft above the Sea of Galilee and offer spectacular views such as the one at the right.
Much of Jesus’ ministry took place in the plain along the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum is along the shore in the far distance.
Arbel is not mentioned by name in the New Testament, although Jesus surely visited the mountain. It was likely the site for some of his all-night mountain prayer vigils.
However, Arbel is mentioned in the Old Testament.
Therefore, a tumult will arise among your people, and all your fortresses will be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed in pieces with their children. (Hosea 10:14)
Hosea may be referring to Assyria’s King Shalmaneser IV whose invasion and siege of Samaria led to Israel being carried into captivity in 722 BC. (2 Kings 17:1-6; 18:9-12) The atrocity Hosea mentions of dashing mothers and children to pieces likely occurred from the heights of the nearby Arbel Cliffs.
The Jesus Trail descends a steep trail down the Arbel Cliffs. Here is a picture showing the route with large metal staples for secure handholds.
Caves in the Arbel Cliffs have been used for centuries for domiciles, fortifications, and storage.
The Jewish historian Josephus mentions the use of these caves on several occasions.
Around 40 BC Herod the Great crushed a revolt in Galilee, first in Sephoris (Zippori) and then from caves in the cliff faces of Arbel.
The caves were very difficult to access from both above and below, and rebels took refuge in them. Eventually Herod lowered his bravest soldiers in large baskets down the cliffs from the top, and they slew the rebels and their families hiding in the caves. (See Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Book 1, Chap 16, paragraphs 4 & 5.)
Later around 66 AD Josephus himself used the caves in a revolt against the Romans. He fortified the caves and stored grain and arms in them. (See Josephus, The Life Of Flavius Josephus, paragraph 37.)
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the twelfth installment in the Hike the Bible series reviewing major hiking trails in the Lands of the Bible.
Read the prequels:
1. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail (with video)
2. Hike the Bible – Gospel Trail (with video)
3. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail vs. Gospel Trail
4. Hike the Bible – Nazareth
5. Hike the Bible – Zippori
6. Hike the Bible – Mash’had
7. Hike the Bible – Cana (with video)
8. Hike the Bible – Roman Road
9. Hike the Bible – Via Maris
10. Hike the Bible – Horns of Hattin
11. Hike the Bible – Sermon on the Mount
Read the sequel:
13. Hike the Bible – Magdala coming soon…
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3)
Wednesday April 25, 2012 A.D.
Read my April 2012 newspaper column:
Operation Geronimo and the Resurrection
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)