(Herʹmon) [sacred mountain].
Hermon has been identified with the highest mountain in the vicinity of Palestine, called Jebel el-Sheikh (“gray-haired mountain”) or Jebel el-Thalj (“mountain of the snow”) by the Arabs. These names evidently derive from the circumstance that Mount Hermon is snowcapped nearly the year around. Its snowy top might be said to resemble an old man’s crown of white hair. In ancient times, this mountain was known to the Sidonians as “Sirion” and to the Amorites as “Senir.” (Deut. 3:8, 9) The latter name also seems to have been used to denote a part of the Hermon range. (1 Chron. 5:23) “Sion” (not Zion) was still another name applied to this mountain. (Deut. 4:47, 48) The psalmist mentioned Hermon along with Tabor as crying out joyfully in Jehovah’s name.—Ps. 89:12.
Forming the S end of the Anti—Lebanon range and separated from the latter by a deep depression, Mount Hermon rises over 9,000 feet (c. 2,743 meters) above sea level and extends almost twenty miles (32 kilometers) from N to S. Its several peaks are connected by a plateau. (Ps. 42:6) Mount Hermon is composed of limestone, although having outcroppings of basalt on the eastern and western sides. Its upper portion is completely bare with the exception of low shrubs in places. But lower down there are firs, fruit trees, tragacanths and shrubs. Vineyards occupy the lower slopes of the western and southern sides.
On a clear day, the top of Hermon affords a splendid view of much of Palestine. To the W can be seen the mountains of Lebanon, the plain of Tyre and the Mediterranean Sea; to the SW, Mount Carmel; to the S, the Jordan valley with the Huleh Basin and the Sea of Galilee, and to the E, the plain of Damascus.
Mount Hermon’s snowy head serves to condense the night vapors, thus producing abundant dew. “More copious dew,” observed the nineteenth-century naturalist H. B. Tristram, “we never experienced than that on Hermon. Everything was drenched with it, and the tents were small protection.” The refreshing dew of Hermon preserves vegetation during the long rainless season. (Ps. 133:3; see DEW.) The melting snows of Mount Hermon are the main source of the river Jordan.
Anciently, Mount Hermon was a haunt for wild animals, such as lions and leopards. (Song of Sol. 4:8) In recent times, foxes, wolves, leopards and Syrian bears have been reported there.
Mount Hermon became the northern limit of the Promised Land. (Josh. 12:1; 13:2, 5, 8, 11) The Hivites, who resided at its base, were defeated by Joshua. (Josh. 11:1-3, 8, 16, 17) This mountain may have been the scene for the transfiguration of Jesus Christ (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28; 2 Pet. 1:18), for he was in nearby Caesarea Philippi shortly before this event.—Mark 8:27; see BAAL-HERMON