Sights and Insights: Hills, leaders and lessons

Lessons around the Harod Valley offer truths as enduring as the beautiful settings in which they occurred.

January 30, 2012 17:28
4 minute read.
Mt Gilboa from east

Mt Gilboa from east 390. (photo credit:

Wayne Stiles has never recovered from his travels in the Holy Land. Follow him on Twitter (@WayneStiles) or on his blog at

On the southeastern side of the Jezreel Valley, Mount Gilboa stretches like a fence that once marked the northernmost boundary of the tribe of Manasseh. Because the valley hosted the most important crossroads in Israel, the mountain range offered a strategic high ground for the nation’s defense.

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From above, the Jezreel Valley has the geographic shape of an arrowhead pointed to the northwest. The form seems almost prophetic, as the area has given stage to numerous battles in history. The future “Battle of Armageddon” also promises to occur in this area (Revelation 16:16).

The “shaft” of the Jezreel Valley’s arrow represents a smaller valley that runs eastward between Mount Gilboa and the Hill of Moreh. This vale has the name “Harod Valley” and expands more than ten kilometers east toward Beit Sha'an, meeting the Jordan Valley.

Hill of Moreh and Nain aerial from northwest  (photo:

At the base of Mount Gilboa, a spring still flows today as it has for millennia. Green grass, a swimming pool, and beautiful picnic spots surround the spring that takes its name from the valley that spreads before it. Ein Harod, or sometimes called, “Gideon’s Spring,” represents the place where Gideon selected his three hundred men to fight the armies of Midian. (I always remember Gideon fought Midian because their names rhyme.)

The Bible describes the geography of Gideon’s position with clarity: “Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him, rose early and camped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley” (Judges 7:1). All of these geographical landmarks are still visible and allow the visitor to recreate the scene in his or her mind.

God had already promised Gideon a great victory, but the fearful judge asked for confirmation. Even after God graciously gave Gideon the reassurance he requested, he still struggled to believe he would have victory against such overwhelming odds. Around 135,000 Midianites camped just across the valley, and the Lord thinned out Gideon’s ranks in order to expose his fear. The reduction of troops at Ein Harod cut Gideon’s army down to impossible odds: 450 to 1! Not surprisingly, the Lord gave Israel a great victory—and strengthened Gideon’s faith.

Years later, a fearful King Saul failed to learn the lesson Gideon acquired in the same area. On the northern side of the Hill of Moreh, the city of Endor had a resident medium that Saul visited in a frantic attempt for supernatural information. Surprising even the medium, God revealed through the Prophet Samuel that Saul would die the next day (1 Samuel 28). 

Ein Harod stream (photo:

The army of Israel fought the Philistines on Mount Gilboa, and King Saul and his sons were killed. Their bodies hung in effigy on the walls of nearby Beth-shan until Hebrews from Jabesh-gilead reclaimed them (1 Samuel 31).

Centuries later, the southern slope of the Hill of Moreh saw the Prophet Elisha raise the dead son of a woman from Shunem. In the first century, Jesus raised a widow’s son on the north side of the same hill in a town called Nain (Luke 7:11-17).

How fascinating that two sets of desperate situations occurred in the same area. For Gideon and Saul, it was tremendous odds in battle at Gilboa. For Elisha and Jesus, it was the death of a mother’s son beside the Hill of Moreh. In every instance, the lessons pointed to the same principle: God alone provides the necessary strength for overwhelming situations—even in circumstances as crushing as death.

The Harod Valley, the Hill of Moreh, and Mount Gilboa seem as beautiful and ageless today as in the days of the Bible. Geography doesn’t change. The lessons taught in these places offer truths as enduring as the beautiful settings in which they occurred.

How to Get There:
From Tiberias, travel Route 90 south and take Route 71 west to Ein Harod.

What to Do There:
Ein Harod offers numerous shady spots to read of the historical events that occurred there. Read Judges 7, 1 Samuel 28 and 31, 2 Kings 4, and Luke 7:11-17.

Wayne Stiles has never recovered from his travels in the Holy Land. Follow him on Twitter (@WayneStiles) or on his blog at

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