The Nazareth Hills block off the northern part of the Jezreel Valley like a fortified wall. Their steep slope is the product of a geological fault that divides the hills from the valley: the hills reared up far above the lowland, and the hard chalk rocks of which they are composed have remained startlingly upright.
At 397 meters above sea level and some 300 meters above the level of the Jezreel Valley, the Mount of Precipice stands out conspicuously from the steep wall of the Nazareth Hills. Its official name is Mount Kedumim (Har Kedumim), perhaps because it overlooks the Kishon River, which is referred to in the Biblical Song of Deborah as the Kedumim River (Nahal Kedumim): “The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river (Hebrew: Nahal Kedumim), the river Kishon,” (Judges 5:21). And if there’s a Kedumim River, why should there not be a mountain of the same name?
The name Mount of Precipice has its origins in Christian tradition, in a story in the New Testament (Luke 4:29-30) that recounts how Jesus angered the congregation of the synagogue in Nazareth when he hinted that he might be the Messiah. The congregants led him out of the city and sought to throw him from the top of the hill, but he managed to evade them and reach safety. After this incident Jesus left Nazareth and began to frequent the area around the Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee).
In this article, we propose an excursion along a new trail that leads down the side of the Mount of Precipice and joins a short existing footpath constructed on the hill long ago by KKL-JNF. This new path forms part of the Gospel Trail, which is a total of 62 kilometers in length. It departs from the Mount of Precipice, skirts the foot of the Nazareth Hills, passes through Beit Keshet Forest, descends to the Kinneret via the Horns of Hittin (Karnei Hittin) and finishes its journey at the Christian holy places on the shores of the Kinneret. It was constructed by the Israel Government Tourist Corporation in conjunction with KKL-JNF and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.
Here we describe the first part of the trail, so that those curious about it can get a little taste of what it is like.
The short route
A disabled-accessible paved path leaves the parking lot and ascends among the trees to the top of the Mount of Precipice. Here KKL-JNF has established the Three Faiths Lookout, with the help of donations from the community of Windsor, Ontario. In the center of the plaza is an olive tree planted by Pope John Paul II to promote peace between adherents of all religions throughout the world. Explanatory signs in English, Hebrew and Arabic offer a description of the site.
The view is magnificent. Below us is the Jezreel Valley, opposite are Mount Gilboa and Givat HaMoreh. We can return to the parking lot by following the surfaced path, but we recommend instead walking eastwards along the trail at the edge of the ridge, which provides a wonderful view. After some 300 meters we arrive at another scenic lookout platform with a stone house at its center. This is the Forester’s House, which was formerly used by KKL-JNF woodsmen working in the area. A short accessible path from the Forester’s House scenic lookout leads back to the parking lot.