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ATABY´RIUM

ATABY´RIUM (Ἀταβύριον, Steph. B. sub voce Hesych.; Ἰταβύριον LXX.; Θαβώρ: Jebel-et-Tŭr), or TABOR a mountain of Galilee, on the borders of Zebulon and Issachar. (Josh. 19.22; J. AJ 5.1.22.) It stands out alone towards the SE. from the high land around Nazareth; while the north eastern arm of the great plain of Esdraelon sweeps around its base, and extends far to the N., forming a broad tract of table-land, bordering upon the deep Jordan valley and the basin of the Lake Tiberias. It was before Mount Tabor that Deborah and Barak assembled the warriors of Israel before their great battle with Sisera. (Judges, 4.6, 12, 14; J. AJ 5.5.3.) The beauty of this mountain aroused the enthusiasm of the Psalmist, when he selected Tabor and Hermon as the representatives of the hills of his native land; the former as the most graceful; the latter as the loftiest. (Ps. 89.12: comp. Jer. 46.18; Hos. 5.1.) In B.C. 218 Antiochus the Great ascended the mountain, and came to Atabyrium, a place lying on a breast-formed height, having an ascent of more than 15 stadia; and by stratagem and wile got possession of the city, which he afterwards fortified. (Plb. 5.70.6.) About 53 B.C. a battle took place here between the Roman forces under the proconsul Gabinius, and the Jews under Alexander, son of Aristobulus, in which 10,000, of the latter were slain. (J. AJ 14.6.3, B. J. 1.8.7.) In the New Testament Mount Tabor is not mentioned. In later times Josephus (B. J. 2.20.6, Vita, § 37) relates that he had himself caused Mt. Tabor to be fortified, along with various other places. He describes the mountain as having an ascent of 30 stadia (Rufinus reads 20 stadia, which corresponds better with the 15 stadia of Polybius, and is nearer the truth). On the N. it was inaccessible, and the summit was a plain of 26 stadia in circumference. The whole of this circuit Josephus enclosed with a wall in forty days, in which time the inhabitants had to bring water and materials from below, since they had only rainwater. (B. J. 4.1.8.) Still later, when Josephus had himself fallen into the hands of the [p. 1.252]Romans, a great number of the Jews took refuge in this fortress; against whom Vespasian sent Placidus with 600 horsemen. By a feint he induced the great body to pursue him into the plain, where he slew many, and cut off the return of the multitude to the mountain; so that the inhabitants, who were suffering from want of water, made terms, and surrendered themselves and the mountain to Placidus. (Joseph. l.c.) Nothing further is heard of Mount Tabor till the 4th century, when it is often mentioned by Eusebius (Onomast. s. v. Thabor Itabyrium), but without any allusion to its being regarded as the scene of the Transfiguration. About the middle of this century, the first notice of Tabor as the place where our Lord was transfigured appears as a passing remark by Cyril of Jerusalem (Cat. 12.16, p. 170); and Jerome twice mentions the same thing, though he implies that there was not yet a church upon the summit. (Hieron. Ep. 44, ad Marcell. p. 522, Ep. 86; Epitaph. Paulae, p. 677.) Lightfoot (Hor. Hebr. in Marc. 9.2) and Reland (Palaest. pp. 334--336) have inferred, from the narrative of the Evangelists, that the Mount of Transfiguration is to be sought somewhere in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi. Rosenmüller (Bibl. Alt. vol. ii. pt. i. p. 107) adheres to the ancient traditions connected with this mountain. The existence of a fortified city upon the spot so long before and after the event of the Transfiguration would seem, as Robinson (Palestine, vol. iii. p. 224) argues, to decide the question. At the foot of this mountain, in the time of the Crusades, many battles were fought between the Christians and Moslems; and in modern times a victory was here gained by Napoleon over the Turks. Mount Tabor consists wholly of limestone; standing out isolated in the plain, and rising to a height of about 1,000 feet, it presents a beautiful appearance. Seen from the SW., its form is that of the segment of a sphere; to the NW. it more resembles a truncated cone. The sides are covered up to the summit with the valonia oak, wild pistachios, myrtles, and other shrubs. Its crest is table-land of some 600 or 700 yards in height from N. to S., and about half as much across. Upon this crest are remains of several small halfruined tanks. Upon the ridges which enclose the small plain at the summits are some ruins belonging to different ages; some are of large bevelled stones, which cannot be of later date than the Romans. (Robinson, Palestine, vol. iii. p. 213; Burkhardt, Travels, p. 332.) Lord Nugent describes the view as the most splendid he had ever seen from any natural height. (Lands Classical and Sacred, vol. ii. p. 204; Ritter, Erdkunde, West Asien, vol. xv. p. 391; Raumer, Palestina, p. 37.)

[E.B.J]

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