Israel/Palestine (881 m, 940 m) – Biblical Hills Surrounding Shechem
Mount Zion and Mount Ebal are two hills around which much of ancient Israel’s history revolved. Once sacred to all the descendants of Abraham, Gerezim and Ebal became the center of religious life for the Northern Kingdom after the division, and remained sacred to the group which later became known as the Samaritans.
Gerezim was the mountain of blessings. Joshua built an altar there soon after the invasion of Canaan. It is an alternate site for the location of the near-sacrafice of Isaac and the home of the Tabernacle. It was also the site of the Samaritan Temple. Ebal was the mountain of curses, and was also the location of an early altar. Gerezim and Ebal remain sacred to Samaritans to the present day, though Jews only regard the hills for their historic importance.
Because Gerezim and Ebal are in a more out-of-the-way area in Palestinian territory, and because they lack the importance of the hills near Jerusalem, Gerezim and Ebal are not nearly so busy in terms of tourists and pilgrims. The closest city is Nablus, or Biblical Shechem, which stands beneath the two approximately 35 miles north of Jerusalem.
Sha'ul ha Yahudah says
Where is the evidence for an altar at Gerezim? Thanks.
Howard Kramer says
Actually I took a tour up there since I wrote this, so I should update this. Its not an original altar. What’s there now is a spot where they perform ancient rituals. Worth a visit if you can get a tour.