Mount Arbel, Arbel National Park and Arbel Nature Reserve
Mount Arbel is a wonderful park for nature lovers to hike and a challenging climb for extreme sports, a station on both the Israel Trail and the Gospel Trail. It is a must for both learning about Jewish History and for visiting the Christian sites mentioned in the New Testament.
Mount Arbel (Hebrew: Har Arbel) is a mountain in The Lower Galilee near Tiberias in Israel, with high cliffs, views of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, trails to a cave-fortress, and ruins of an ancient synagogue. The peak, at 181 metres above sea level (380 metres above the surrounding area), dominates the surroundings (much of the area is below sea level) and from the lookout atop the mountain, almost all of the Galilee into the Golan Heights including Safed, Tiberias and most of the Sea of Galilee, is visible.
The historian of the Roman period, Josephus Flavius, is the only source for a description of the battle between the Galilean Zealots, who barricaded themselves at Arbel, and Herod the Great, in 37 CE. Josephus relates that Marc Antony had sent Herod to suppress a rebellion by Jews from “the village of Arbella” who were “…lurking in caves…opening up onto mountain precipices [that] were inaccessible from any quarter, except by some tortuous and extremely narrow paths leading up to them; the cliff in front of them dropped sheer down…” (Josephus, War 1: 305, 310). Herod overcame the rebels only after he had the best of his warriors lowered to the caves in cages suspended by ropes, from which the zealots became convenient targets for their fiery brands and arrows. The Zealots fought to the death.
In the early first century CE, Jesus of Nazareth preached and performed miracles in the Valley of Ginnosar at the foot of the Arbel, moving between Migdal and Capernaum with his disciples and followers. Some Christian traditions locate the site of those miracles in the Valley of Arbel.
- Use marked trails only.
- The trail to the scenic lookout is comfortable and accessible to all walkers. The other trails are for experienced hikers only and require use of hand-holds and cables installed at the site. The ‘red’ trail is recommended for descent to the fortress. The ‘black’ trail is recommended for ascent from the fortress.
- A recent trail map is recommended (Lower Galilee, the Valleys and the Gilboa).
- Do not go near the edge of the cliff. Beware of falling and rolling stones.
- On rainy days the trail is wet and slippery. Do not descend the cliff!
- Do not remain in or traverse the national park and nature reserve after dark.
- Rappelling and cliff-climbing is prohibited. Do not climb walls and ancient structures.
- Carry 3 liters of water per day per person. Do not depend on natural water sources for drinking.
- Wear walking shoes and a hat.
- Do not harm flora, fauna or inanimate objects.
- Keep the area clean. Do not bury or burn trash. Please take you trash out with you and dispose of it in a trash bin.