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Mount Gilboa

Set at the northeastern edge of Samaria, between Tel Jezreel and Beit She’an, Mount Gilboa towers high above the Jordan and Jezreel Valley. The mountain offers scenic rides, lookouts, and hikes and is soaked with natural beauty and dramatic biblical history.

History of Mount Gilboa

Mount Gilboa is first known in the bible as the battle site between the Israelites, led by Saul and the Philistines. Despite Samuel predicting his loss, Saul confronts the Philistines and is defeated. Saul chooses to fall on his sword and die, losing even some of his sons. When David hears of this in Ziklag, he laments over Saul’s death and curses the Gilboa mountains:

“Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew nor rain upon you, neither fields of choice fruits; for there the shield of the mighty was vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, anointed with oil” (2 Samuel 1:21)

Indeed, most of Mount Gilboa remained unforested until the 1950s. However, today, Mount Gilboa is covered with a meadow of pine trees that the Jewish National Fund initiated. It is also known for its spring blossom, forming carpets of wildflowers, and many outdoor activities. Its main attractions are –

Gilboa Scenic Road (Route 667)

This 17–mile drive along the mountain ridge includes several picnic stops, beautiful bike paths, hiking trails, and stunning lookouts.

Har Saul

A majestic viewpoint, some 1600 feet above the Beit-She’an valley, providing breathtaking panoramas of the Jezreel and Jordan valleys, the Lower Galilee, and the mountains of biblical Gilead. Opposite the hill is Givat Hamoreh, where the Philistines camped before the battle against Saul. According to the Book of Revelations, to the west are the plains of the Jezreel Valley, associated with Armageddon and the end of the world.

Mount Gilboa Iris Reserve

The fields around Mount Barkan are known for their beautiful iris flowers. Once an endangered species, they bloom in shades of purple in winter.

Mayan Harod

There is a spring at the foot of the Gilboa where Gideon tested his warriors’ alert (Judges 7). Centuries later, in 1260 CE, the Mamluks fought here against the Mongols, blocking their invasion into Israel and Egypt (battle of Ain Jalut). Today, the spring’s water is channeled to a public swimming pool, which the locals appreciate in the hot summer months.

A drive along Mount Gilboa can be combined with a day tour in the north.

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