CARMELUS MONS Χερμήλ, Κάρμηλος,
LXX.; Κάρμηλος, Strab. xvi. p.758
; Καρμήλιον ὄρος, J. AJ 13.15.4
), a mountain in Palestine, insignificant in height and extent, but celebrated in history, sacred and profane.
It forms the southern extremity of the Gulf of Khaifa, and separates the great western plain of Philistia from the Plain of Esdraelon and the coast of Phoenicia.
It falls abruptly to the sea, and its bluff head forms a bold promontory. From this point it rises rapidly to the elevation of about 1,500 feet, and runs in a south-easterly direction for about 18 miles, where it is connected by a range of lower hills with the great range that passes down the whole of Palestine, known in its various parts under various appellations, as the Mountain of Samaria, Mount Ephraim, the Hill country of Judaea, and the Mountains of Hebron.
It is a limestone formation, and was formerly celebrated for its fertility, as its name implies.
In the division of the land among the 12 tribes, it formed the southern boundary of Asher (Josh.
19.68), and is chiefly celebrated in Holy Scriptures for the sacrifice of Elijah (2 Kings,
xxiii.), and there can be little doubt that it owes its fame for sanctity among the Pagans to the tradition of that miracle.
It is mentioned by Iamblichus, in his life of Pythagoras, as a mountain of pre-eminent sanctity, where this philosopher passed some time in solitude, in a temple.
He was seen there by the crew of an Egyptian vessel, descending from the summit of the Mount, walking leisurely, without turning back, unimpeded by the precipitous and difficult rocks.
He went on board their vessel and sailed with them for Egypt (cap. 3).
It was on this mountain that Vespasian consulted the oracle (Oraculum Carmeli Dei, Suet. Vesp.
5). Tacitus also informs us that there was a god synonymous with the mountain.
He adds “Nec simulacrum Deo aut templum, sic tradidere majores: aram tantum et reverentiam” (Hist.
The altar was doubtless the traditional site of that erected by Elijah, the memory of which has been preserved by the natives to this day, at the southeastern extremity of the range.
The celebrated convent at the north-western extremity is said to mark the spot where Elijah and Elisha had their abode. (Reland, Palest.
p. 327--330; Ritter, Erdkunde von Asien,
vol. viii. p. 705, &c.)
Pliny speaks of “Promontorium Carmelum et in monte oppidum eodem nomine, quondam Acbatana dictum” (5.19. s. 17). Possibly he means the town of PORPHYRIUM, now Khaifa,
at the foot of the mountain.