The Golan Heights are a basaltic plateau in the Northeast part of Israel, that was formed by repeating eruptions of the dormant volcanos scattered all over the region.
Mount Bental is one of these dormant volcanos. It has a shape of a horseshoe since its Northwestern collapsed during its last eruption some 100,000 years ago.
File:Bental mountain.JPG. (2022, January 15). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 16:36, July 2, 2022 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Bental_mountain.JPG&oldid=621950920.
The mountain is over 3,800 feet high and the vistas from its summit are breathtaking.
File:PikiWiki Israel 20226 Mt. Bental Golan Heights.JPG. (2022, June 23). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 16:38, July 2, 2022 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:PikiWiki_Israel_20226_Mt._Bental_Golan_Heights.JPG&oldid=667848913.
The path to the summit is decorated with metal sculptures made by Joop de Jong from Merom Golan kibbutz at the foot of the mountain.
On the mountain, one can visit a restored bunker (built by the Syrian army and renovated by the IDF) which tells the story of the Yom Kippur war using wall art and enjoy treats at the “Coffee Anan” coffee bar. There is a water reservoir and beautiful hiking trails around the mountain as well as attractions like horse ride and ATV tours in the area.
Looking east from the lookout located on the summit, we see, just below us, the abandoned city of Quneitra and the road leading North-East from Quneitra to Damascus. The place was inhabited at least 2200 ago and continued through the Roman and Byzantine times. It served as a stop on the road from Damascus to western Palestine. Saint Paul is said to have passed through the settlement on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus, as written in the Acts of The Apostles:
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way… he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Who are you, Lord? Saul asked. I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, he replied... The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.” (Acts 9)
File:Bental22.jpg. (2008, October 22). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 16:38, July 2, 2022 from https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%91%D7%A5:Bental22.jpg?tableofcontents=1
Opening hours: Daily until dusk
Directions: Take turn from route no. 9881
Gilgal Refaim (Rujm El Hiri)
In the South-East corner of the Golan Heights, surrounded by hundreds of megalithic (made of large stones) structures called “dolmens”, stands a mysterious megalithic monument named “Gilgal Refaim” (or “Rujm el Hiri” in Arabic).
Gilgal Refaim consists of five concentric circles of basalt rocks with a grave at center and consists of more than 40,000 basalt rocks with aggregate weight of about 37,000 tons. The outer circle’s diameter is 520 feet and its circumference is close to 1600 feet.
File:רוג%27ום_אל_הירי.jpg. (2017, April 8). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 16:38, July 2, 2022 from https://he.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%91%D7%A5:%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%92%27%D7%95%D7%9D_%D7%90%D7%9C_%D7%94%D7%99%D7%A8%D7%99.jpg
Archeological findings suggest that the Golan Heights were inhabited already hundreds of thousands of years ago (by Homo Erectus). Researchers suggest that the monument was built about 6,000 years ago when thousands of people inhabited the area.
The purpose of the monument is not clear. Hypotheses include worship, burial, astronomical observations and more.
The site is dated thousands of years prior to the time of the bible. Nevertheless, the modern Hebrew name “Gilgal Refaim” connects it to the Bible.
In biblical times a region named “Bashan” stretched to the east of the Golan Heights, and included a town called “Golan”:
“Then Moses set aside three cities east of the Jordan, to which anyone who had killed a person could flee if they had unintentionally killed a neighbor without malice aforethought. They could flee into one of these cities and save their life. The cities were these… Golan in Bashan, for the Manassites”
The Bible tells us that the Bashan region was populated by giants (Hebrew: “Anakites” or “Rephaites”):
“That too was considered a land of the Rephaites…. They were a people… as tall as the Anakites” (Deuteronomy 2, 20)
Og, the king of Bahsan, who was defeated by the Sons of Israel on their way to the Land of Israel was a Rephaite remnant:
“We took all the towns on the plateau, and all Gilead, and all Bashan as far as Salekah and Edrei, towns of Og’s kingdom in Bashan. Og king of Bashan was the last of the Rephaites. His bed was decorated with iron and was more than nine cubits long and four cubits wide.” (Deuteronomy 3, 10)
So the modern Hebrew name “Gilgal Refaim” (Rephaite Circle) suggests that the monument is a burial monument of a Rephaite king, of which the most popular was Og.
Directions: 3 km east of road 808 (accessible by foot or ATV/Jeep)