While the area around Israel’s Mount Tabor once contained a lush oak forest, in the late 1800s Turkish rulers chopped down many of the trees to use for railway ties. Thankfully, in the 1940s, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) replanted this area, Beit Keshet, and it is once again a lovely destination among so many in the Holy Land.
Over the years Beit Keshet was returned to its natural state and is once again a flourishing woodland replete with magnificent trees and colorful wildflowers. A little over a decade ago, the JNF officially opened a delightful scenic route through the forest, complete with breathtaking lookout points and delectable woodsy paths.
Early on the route you reach a stupendous overlook named for Winston Churchill, a gift from the Jews of Britain. Then continue on, to a grove full of Canary pines, tall straight trees that resist forest fires. The British, who ruled Palestine at the time, planted this part of the denuded forest in 1926. Declaring Beit Keshet a Nature Reserve, they also added Jerusalem pine, Stone pine, and several species of oak and terebinth to the natural foliage.
Like many places in Israel, Mount Tabor is mentioned several times in the Bible.
A magnificent mountain, the fabulous Tabor, keeps popping into view. Gloriously green in winter and spring, Mount Tabor towers over the hills that surround it. Indeed, its beauty led a writer of Psalms to exclaim enthusiastically: “You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name.” [Psalms 89:12].
Mount Tabor is the traditional site of the Transfiguration, in which Jesus, Peter, James and John climbed a high mountain. “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” [Mark 9:2]. The other disciples waited at the foot of the mountain, perhaps where the Arab village of Daburia stands today. Daburia is identified with the biblical Daberath allotted to the Israelite tribe of Zebulun.