This significant Israeli mountain is located in the Jezreel Valley, a large swath of land that stretches from Mount Carmel to Mount Tabor near Nazareth and Mount Gilboa and the Harod Valley further inland. A place of passage for travelers in ancient and modern times, it reminds us why Israel has always been a much a much battled territory, with fertile soil that also makes this area the country's breadbasket.
The beauty of Mount Gilboa is during the early spring when the wildflowers are in bloom – don’t miss the iris season if your Israel tour follows the winter rains. It is a location that has figured in many songs and poems, making it a wonderful place to visit on any kind of trip to Israel, whether a family journey, Jewish heritage tour or bar/bat mitzvah trip.
Mount Gilboa is known biblically from the Battle of Gilboa, fought between the Israelites and Philistines. The bloody battle ends with King Saul's defeat, suicide and death. David, who replaces Saul as King of Israel, laments his fallen king. Other citations include the Book of Judges, where the Haron Spring, located at the feet of Mount Gilboa, is mentioned.
Stand at the top of Mount Gilboa to enjoy a panoramic view of the Jezreel Valley. The fishponds in the valley below attract a variety of birds – from cormorants to pelicans, seagulls, storks and ducks. See the gorgeous, spring bloom of the purple Gilboa iris covering the mountain slopes. The Beit Shean valley below the mountain is covered with cotton fields, as befits Israel's largest cotton growing district. With no clouds to block the view, visitors can see as far as the snow-covered peak of the Golan Heights’ Mount Hermon.
Mount Gilboa Kibbutz Life
Despite the abundance of kibbutzim at the feet of Mount Gilboa, only two kibbutzim have made the mountain their home: Ma'ale Gilboa and Merav. Both are religious kibbutzim, founded in the 1960s by the religious kibbutz movement.
It was the religious kibbutz, such as Ma'ale Gilboa and Merav, that brought about the integration of farming and manual labor with Torah studies. The religious kibbutz settlers' vision was to introduce a new religious practice, which incorporated the Zionist ‘working of the land’ with Torah studies. Unlike the yeshiva ‘boys’ of the city, these settlers set a new standard for Jewish thought and practice.
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