MUSICIANS DRESSED in biblical attire accompany runners during a previous Bible Marathon, which takes place next month in the Binyamin region in the West Bank..
(photo credit: BIBLE MARATHON)
More than 1,000 people from over 10 different countries will run in the footsteps of the Bible next month.
The third annual Bible Marathon will take place on Friday, October 6. Runners can run 5 km., 10 km., a half-marathon or a full 42 km. marathon through the streets of the Binyamin region in the West Bank. The full route runs from Rosh Ha’ayin (Eben Ezra in the Bible) to Shiloh, as described in the Book of Samuel.
Shortly after the Jews entered the land of Israel, they fought a battle against the Philistines.
“Every man fled his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers,” it says in the Tanach. The Ark of the Covenant was taken and the two sons of the High Priest were killed. “Now, a man of [the tribe] Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes torn and dust on his head.”
This man, from the tribe of Binyamin, ran 42 km. which is also the official length of the Olympic marathon, decided upon in 1908 at the London Olympic Games.
The Bible Marathon was initially re-established shortly after the Six Day War in 1967 by the founder of the Maccabiah games, Yosef Yekutieli.
However, with the political turmoil and security concerns at the time, “Israel was not equipped to keep the race going,” explained Moshe Ronsky, tourism director for the Binyamin Regional Council. “We have brought this race back to life.”
Runners race on Highway 5, alongside ancient land and archeological discoveries. The Israel Marathon Association is responsible for organizing the run for the Binyamin Regional Council.
The event includes accompaniment by musicians dressed in Biblical costumes – sandals, headdresses and toga-wraps – playing ancient instruments, such as flutes and harps. It culminates in Shiloh, the site where archeologists are searching for the Ark of the Covenant.
Recent media reports said archeologists discovered ancient clues that could suggest they’re getting closer to determining whether the site really held the stone tablets bearing the 10 Commandments.
“The Bible Marathon connects a lot of people to the history of the land,” said Avraham Hermon from Har Bracha in Samaria, who will be running the race for his third time. “I don’t know that this has ever happened before – a nation formed in its land, was separated from that land and then returned to the land. It is the words of the Prophets being fulfilled and part of that is being able to run.”
The Bible Marathon came under scrutiny earlier this month, when it had its membership revoked by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races after BDS activists claimed its route violates international law. The organizers of the annual running event received notice from the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races President rescinding their membership, claiming the race went beyond the boundaries of the State of Israel and therefore was a violation of UN Security Council resolution 2334.
The Israel Marathon is actively fighting the issue as there is no legal precedent for such action.
Ofer Padan, Israel Marathon Association head told The Jerusalem Post
that “no Palestinian is cut off from traveling in the region.
“We went to every Palestinian community and found another way for them to enter and exit,” he continued.
“The main street is closed, but people can come and go as needed. We have been careful not to bother commuters too much.”
This year, the marathon’s organizers have also invited the Palestinians to take part in the race.
Padan, a secular Israeli, insisted the race is not a political statement. Rather, he said, “it brings people from all religions and levels of religiosity together to come and run in a place that is not necessarily familiar to them, but is in the Bible” of the world’s Monotheistic religions.
“It is part of our shared history,” he said. “It helps people understand each other.”
This article was written in cooperation with the Bible Marathon.