Givat Yonah – Jonah’s Hill
Jonah’s Hill is situated on the on the holy Muslim site of Nebbi Yunes. The hill is in the northwest corner of Ashdod. The north side faces Nachal Lachish, the Port of Ashdod, Tel Ashdod and Tel Mor, the ancient anchorage on Nachal Lachish. The Mediterranean Sea is to the west. On a clear day you can see all the way to Ashkelon to the south. A park, a lighthouse and a water reservoir are all located on the hill overlooking the modern port of Ashdod. This out look is 53 meters above sea level. Not bad for a port on the Mediterranean.
Unfortunately, in the early 1960’s a group of Jerusalemites destroyed the tomb. They replaced it with a plaque that reads: Yona (Jonah) son of Amitai, Prophet.
Ashdod at the time of Jonah
Archaeologists have exposed the foundation of a large fortress from the First Temple period under the hill. Remains of massive walls more than one meter wide are said to date back to the late 8th century and early 7th century BCE. It is only logical to find a fortress overlooking the ancient city and anchorage. Givat Yona has always been considered a strategic site. That’s because the Via Maris – the ancient Way of the Sea – passed right below.
Tel Mor seems to have been an industrial centre for the manufacture of clothing dye in the Hellenist period. Tel Mor is located 7KM north-west of the ancient inland city of Ashdod.
During the Mandate
During the British Mandate (1922-1948), there was an observation point in order to detect the incoming arrival of illegal Jewish immigrants to Palestine.
Prophesy and Politics
But there is another name for this hill, Givat Yaffa, in honor of the wife of Oved Ben-Ami, the founder of modern Israeli Ashdod
The Crystal Glass
On the summit of the hill stands a lighthouse (Migdalor Ashdod) which shines out 27 kilometers into the sea. The lighthouse was constructed in the 1960s. In 1966 the crystal glass used to build the Ashdod lighthouse was taken from the historic Jaffa Lighthouse, which had to be shut down.
Traditions of Jonah’s Grave
- The 6th century Madaba Map in a Byzantine church in Madaba, Jordan indicates the Jonah’s Hill site in Greek as “Holy Jonah”. The is according to traditions that Jonah was buried here.
- Of course there are other traditions placing his grave in Mash’had in the Galilee near Gat Hefer.
- There is a mosque called Nebi Yunes is in the Palestinian West Bank town of Halhul.
- Another Jonah grave was in Jama Naballa Jonas near the city of Mosul, Iraq, however this was destroyed by ISIS on July 24, 2014.
- Last but not least, is Jonah’s grave near the city of Sarafand (Sarepta) in Lebanon. This is according to Jewish tradition that Jonah was the son of the woman from “Zarephath” (צרפת) mentioned in the stories of Elijah.