Transfiguration, Mount of
|trans-fig-u-ra'-shun ((metamorphoomai), to be transformed)
RELATED: James, Jesus, John, Mount Hermon, Mount of Olives, Mount Tabor, Peter, Transfiguration (of Jesus), The
Easton's Bible Dictionary
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
trans-fig-u-ra'-shun (referred to as the "holy mount"
in 2 Peter 1:18):
Records of the Transfiguration are found in Matthew 17:1 ; Mark 9:2 ; Luke 9:28.
From these narratives we gather that Jesus went with His disciples from Bethsaida
to the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi, where Peter's memorable confession was
made. Some six or eight days later Jesus went up into a high mountain to pray,
taking with Him Peter, James and John. There He was transfigured before them.
Descending the next day, He healed a demoniac boy, and then passed through Galilee
1. Not Olivet or Tabor:
It is quite evident that the tradition placing the scene on the Mount of Olives
must be dismissed. Another tradition, dating from the 4th century, identifies
the mountain with Tabor. In the article on TABOR, MOUNT, reasons are stated for
rejecting this tradition. It was indeed possible in the time indicated to travel
from Caesarea Philippi to Tabor; but there is nothing to show why this journey
should have been undertaken; and, the mountain top being occupied by a town or
village, a suitable spot could not easily have been found.
2. Mt. Hermon:
In recent years the opinion has become general that the scene must be placed somewhere
on Mt. Hermon. It is near to Caesarea Philippi. It is the mountain paragraph excellence
in that district (Luke 9:28). It was easily possible in the time to make the journey
to Chasbeiyah and up the lofty steeps. The sacred associations of the mountain
might lend it special attractions (Stanley, S and the Priestly Code (P), 399).
This is supported by the transient comparison of the celestial splendor with the
snow, where alone it could be seen in Palestine (ibid., 400).
It seems to have been forgotten that Mt. Hermon lay beyond the boundaries of Palestine,
and that the district round its base was occupied by Gentiles (HJP, II, i, 133
f). The sacred associations of the mountain were entirely heathen, and could have
lent it no fitness for the purpose of Jesus; hos chion, "as snow," in Mark 9:3,
does not belong to the original text, and therefore lends no support to the identification.
It was evidently in pursuance of His ordinary custom that Jesus "went up into
the mountain to pray" (Luke 9:28). This is the only indication of His purpose.
It is not suggested that His object was to be transfigured. "As he was praying,"
the glory came. There is no hint that He had crossed the border of Palestine;
and it is not easy to see why in the circumstances He should have made this journey
and toilsome ascent in heathen territory. Next morning as usual He went down again,
and was met by a crowd that was plainly Jewish. The presence of "the scribes"
is sufficient proof of this (Mark 9:14). Where was such a crowd to come from in
this Gentile district? Matthew in effect says that the healing of the demoniac
took place in Galilee (Matthew 17:22). The case against Mt. Hermon seems not less
conclusive than that against Tabor.
3. Jebel Jermuk:
The present writer has ventured to suggest an identification which at least avoids
the difficulties that beset the above (Expository Times, XVIII, 333 f). Among
the mountains of Upper Galilee Jebel Jermuk is especially conspicuous, its shapely
form rising full 4,000 ft. above the sea. It is the highest mountain in Palestine
proper, and is quite fitly described as hupselon ("high"). It stands to the West
over against the Safed uplands, separated from them by a spacious valley, in the
bottom of which runs the tremendous gorge, Wady Leimun. It is by far the most
striking feature in all the Galilean landscape. The summit commands a magnificent
view, barred only to the Southwest by other mountains of the range. It rises from
the midst of a district which then supported a large population of Jews, with
such important Jewish centers as Kefr Bir`im, Gishcala, Meiron, etc., around its
base. Remote and lonely as it is, the summit was just such a place as Jesus might
have chosen for prayer. It was comparatively easy to reach, and might be comfortably
climbed in the evening. Then on His descent next day the crowd might easily assemble
from the country and the villages near by. How long our Lord stayed near Caesarea
Philippi after the conversation recorded in Matthew 16:21 we do not know. From
Banias to Gishcala, e.g. one could walk on foot without fatigue in a couple of
days. If a little time were spent in the Jewish villages passed on the way, the
six days, or Luke's "about eight days," are easily accounted for. From this place
to Capernaum He would "pass through Galilee" (Mark 9:30).
bible study, bible history, define, jesus, mount of transfiguration, mount hermon, mount of olives, mount tabor, transfiguration of jesus christ