Mt. Hermon
Northern border marker of ancient Israel.

Mt. Hermon is the highest point of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, located at the southern end of that range. This beautiful mountain actual has three peaks, the highest being about 9200 feet (2800 meters) above sea level. It is approximately 20 miles (32 km) in length. As a highly visible point of reference on the northern boundary of Israel, it is frequently cited as such throughout scriptures and even in casual usage as a well-known place. One such example, of the later, comes from the Psalmist in chapter 42...

Psalms 42:5-6 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and 6 my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon - from Mount Mizar. (NIV)

The Hebrew word for Hermon appears in a plural form in this passage of Psalms, likely showing detailed knowledge of the plurality of peaks by the writer. The King James Version unnecessarily translates this plurality into a different word...

Psalms 42:6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. (KJV)

Mt. Hermon in early spring with snow cover and low clouds.

Snow cover remains on some portions of the mountain year round, with much of it being snow bound for many months of the year. The waters from the mountain (western slopes) are one of the primary sources of the Jordan River ultimately ending up in the Dead Sea.

Mt. Hermon seen from a mountain close to the Syrian border.
Former Syrian bunkers in foreground.

Following Israel's exodus from Egypt and return to the Promised Land, Mount Hermon was used as a northern boundary marker in the division of the land for tribes remaining east of the Jordan River.

Deuteronomy 3:8-13 So at that time we took from these two kings of the Amorites the territory east of the Jordan, from the Arnon Gorge as far as Mount Hermon. 9 (Hermon is called Sirion by the Sidonians; the Amorites call it Senir.) 10 We took all the towns on the plateau, and all Gilead, and all Bashan as far as Salecah and Edrei, towns of Og's kingdom in Bashan. 11(Only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaites. His bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide. It is still in Rabbah of the Ammonites.) 12 Of the land that we took over at that time, I gave the Reubenites and the Gadites the territory north of Aroer by the Arnon Gorge, including half the hill country of Gilead, together with its towns. 13 The rest of Gilead and also all of Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to the half tribe of Manasseh. (NIV)

Deuteronomy 4:41-49 Then Moses set aside three cities east of the Jordan, 42 to which anyone who had killed a person could flee if he had unintentionally killed his neighbor without malice aforethought. He could flee into one of these cities and save his life. 43 The cities were these: Bezer in the desert plateau, for the Reubenites; Ramoth in Gilead, for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, for the Manassites. 44 This is the law Moses set before the Israelites. 45 These are the stipulations, decrees and laws Moses gave them when they came out of Egypt 46 and were in the valley near Beth Peor east of the Jordan, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon and was defeated by Moses and the Israelites as they came out of Egypt. 47 They took possession of his land and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan. 48 This land extended from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge to Mount Siyon (that is, Hermon), 49 and included all the Arabah east of the Jordan, as far as the Sea of the Arabah, below the slopes of Pisgah. (NIV)

Accounts of the subsequent conquests of Joshua include numerous mentions of Mt. Hermon, again as a highly visible territorial point of reference (i.e. Joshua 11:3; 11:17; 12:1, 13:5). Hermon can be readily seen from the Sea of Galilee.

Joshua 13:8-13 The other half of Manasseh, the Reubenites and the Gadites had received the inheritance that Moses had given them east of the Jordan, as he, the servant of the Lord, had assigned it to them. 9 It extended from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the middle of the gorge, and included the whole plateau of Medeba as far as Dibon, 10 and all the towns of Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, out to the border of the Ammonites. 11 It also included Gilead, the territory of the people of Geshur and Maacah, all of Mount Hermon and all Bashan as far as Salecah- 12 that is, the whole kingdom of Og in Bashan, who had reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei and had survived as one of the last of the Rephaites. Moses had defeated them and taken over their land. 13 But the Israelites did not drive out the people of Geshur and Maacah, so they continue to live among the Israelites to this day. (Also 1 Chronicles 5:23) (NIV)

Mt. Hermon from a nearby Druze (alt. Druse) community on the Golan heights

The bible mentions a number of the alternate names then in use for Mt Hermon. Considering that it was bounded by numerous nations, each was likely to have their own naming.

Deuteronomy 3:9 (Hermon is called Sirion by the Sidonians; the Amorites call it Senir.)

Judges 3:1-6 These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan 2(he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): 3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. 4 They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord's commands, which he had given their forefathers through Moses. 5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 6 They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. (NIV)

1 Chronicles 5:23 The people of the half-tribe of Manasseh were numerous; they settled in the land from Bashan to Baal Hermon, that is, to Senir (Mount Hermon). (NIV)


In the Song of Solomon, one of the earlier names used by the Amorites ("Senir") was still being used in association with the name Hermon.

Song of Solomon 4:8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Descend from the crest of Amana, from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon, from the lions' dens and the mountain haunts of the leopards. (NIV)

While Mt Hermon was an important location to Israel, many of the former nations surrounding the mountain held it in reverence, religiously so. This is especially suggested by one of the previously cited names, "Baal Hermon", or the mountain of the Baal of Hermon. Hermon, itself, comes from root words meaning "sacred" or "devoted". The ancient Canaanites had altars on high places on its' slopes. In more modern times the Arab peoples surrounding still refer to the mountain by more than one name, including: Jebel el Thalj (Mountain of Snow) and Jebel el Sheikh (Mountain of the Chief or Elder).

Returning to the Psalms; especially take note of the second passage below and the feature that is associated with Hermon.

Psalms 89:11-13 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. 12 You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name. 13 Your arm is endued with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted. (NIV)

Psalms 133:1-3 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (NIV)

The snow remaining on Mt Hermon in the summer condenses water vapor providing for heavy dew in the areas surrounding the mountain - something highly welcomed during the parching summer heat.

Though Mt. Hermon was not mentioned by name in the New Testament, it is the likely site of one major recorded event - the transfiguration. The included description in the text concerning the location all are met in this prominent locale:

  1. In the region of Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13, Mark 8:27)

  2. A "high mountain" (Matthew 17:1, Mark 9:2)
  3. A mountain not needing a name as it would be known by all (Luke 9:28)

Much later tradition (i.e. Helena, mother of Constantine, 326 A.D.) identifies the "high mountain" as Mount Tabor, but this is highly improbable as it is quite a distance from Caesarea Philippi, and the text clearly places it in that region. Also Mount Tabor had a Roman encampment on it during this time according to Josephus (Wars 4.1.8). Tabor is not really a high mountain either at 1843 feet (562 meters).

Matthew 17:1-9 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't be afraid." 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, "Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead." (NIV) [See also Mark 9:2-9; Luke 9:28-37]


Mt. Hermon