Elevated topographical feature formed by geological faulting and erosion. The geography of Palestine featured high mountains and deep rifts. See Palestine. The two usual words for mountain in the Bible are har (Hebrew) and oros (Greek). The simple definition for each is mountain or hill, though they may indicate hill country or a mountainous region.
Many important events in the Bible took place on or near mountains. God called Moses to His work at Mount Horeb, sometimes called “the mountain of God.” A part of God's call was the promise that the Israelite people would worship there upon their escape from Egypt (Exodus 3:1-12).
After the Exodus, God commanded Moses to gather the people at Mount Sinai (probably identical to Horeb). There God gave the Law including the Ten Commandments to Moses.
Other Old Testament mountain episodes include Aaron's death on Mount Hor (Numbers 33:38), the death of Moses on Mount Nebo (Deuteronomy 34:1-8), and Elijah's defeat of the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:15-40).
Much of Jesus' life and ministry also took place on mountains. One of the temptations took place on “an exceeding high mountain” (Matthew 4:8). Jesus' most famous teaching session is called the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7). Jesus went up to a mountain to pray (Luke 6:12), and healed the Gerasene demoniac near a mountain site (Mark 5:11).
Perhaps it is significant that the scene of the transfiguration was on a mountain (Matthew 17:1-8). Jesus was declared to be preeminent over both Moses and Elijah, the representatives of the Law and Prophets. Many of their greatest victories came on mountains. Jesus is affirmed as Lord of all at this mountain experience.
The term mountain also is used symbolically in the Bible. It is a natural image for stability (Psalms 30:7), obstacles (Zechariah 4:7), and God's power (Psalms 121:1-2). God will remove all obstacles when His redemption is complete, “and every mountain and hill shall be made low” (Isaiah 40:4).
Mountains often have been called “holy places.” Jerusalem (elevation 2,670 feet) often was called Mount Zion, the hill of the Lord (Psalms 2:6;
Micah 4:2). God met His people there in worship. The “New Jerusalem” is also known as Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1).
Some of the more famous biblical mountains with their feet elevations are: Ebal (3,084), Gehyrezim (2,890), Gilboa (1,630), Hermon (9,230), Nebo (2,630), Tabor (1,930), Sinai (7,500). See Jerusalem, (Mount Zion), Sermon on the Mount.
Bradley S. Butler