(Taʹbor) [possibly height, lofty place].
1. An outstanding mountain in the territory of Issachar on its northern boundary. (Josh. 19:17, 22) In Arabic it is called Jebel et-Tor. It is situated about twelve miles (c. 19 kilometers) W of the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and about five miles (8 kilometers) E-SE of the city of Nazareth.
Isolated from other mountains, Tabor rises abruptly from the Jezreel valley to an altitude of 1,843 feet (562 meters) above sea level. From the W-NW it looks like a truncated cone, and from the SW like the segment of a sphere. From its summit it affords a magnificent view in all directions. The impressive prominence of this mountain probably explains why the psalmist mentions Tabor and Mount Hermon together as outstanding examples of the Creator’s majestic craftsmanship. (Ps. 89:12) Jehovah also used the striking massiveness of Tabor—standing alone in the Jezreel valley—to illustrate the impressiveness of the force Nebuchadnezzar was bringing against Egypt.—Jer. 46:13, 18.
Tabor was made particularly famous when Barak, at God’s direction, assembled 10,000 men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun against Sisera and his army including 900 chariots with “iron scythes.” At the given signal Barak and his forces hurried down the slopes of Tabor, and after Jehovah had thrown the Canaanites into confusion, the Israelites won a decisive victory over the fleeing forces of Sisera.—Judg. 4:4-16.
Some years later Tabor witnessed the killing of Gideon’s brothers by Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian. (Judg. 8:18, 19) By the middle of the eighth century B.C.E. the unfaithful priestly and regal houses of Israel were “as a net spread over Tabor,” possibly using that mountain W of the Jordan as a center for idolatry to snare the Israelites; Mizpah may have been so used E of the Jordan.—Hos. 5:1.
The summit of Tabor, a rather flat elliptical area about a quarter of a mile (.4 kilometer) wide from N to S and twice as long from E to W, provided a commanding position and a most suitable location for a fortified city. The ruins show that such a city flourished there before and after the first century C.E. This fact gives reason to question the tradition that Tabor was the location of Jesus’ transfiguration, for the accounts say that Jesus and his three companions were in the mountain “by themselves,” “to themselves alone.” Mount Hermon is more likely that “lofty mountain” and it is near Caesarea Philippi at the headwaters of the Jordan, where Jesus was shortly before the transfiguration.—Matt. 17:1, 2; Mark 8:27; 9:2.
3. The “big tree of Tabor” was presumably in Benjamin’s territory. It was a landmark that Samuel referred to in his instructions to Saul after Saul’s anointing, where he was to meet three men en route to Bethel. The site is unknown today.—1 Sam. 10:1-3.