Elijah was one of the important Biblical prophets, who lived during the period of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Elijah is an important figure to all the main religions (Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze) as a brave prophet that stood against the might of Kings and false prophets.
Our hike is centered around the famous event on Mount Carmel, where Elijah challenged King Ahab and the prophets of the Canaanite deity, the Baal.
The Story - Elijah and the Baal Prophets
During the reign of King Ahab, the land was filled with idolatry. Ahab was married to Jezebel, the daughter of Ithobaal, king of Sidon. Jezebel brought her faith in the Baal god and spread it throughout Israel. Elijah the prophet, rebelled against the people’s pursuit of idol worship. He asks the people of Israel to decide whether they are worshiping God or the Baal. Elijah proposes a test to determine who is the “real” God. The event took place on Mount Carmel. (The exact location is believed to be at the Muhraka). Two sacrifices were made on two altars, one for the Baal and one for God. Each group waits for its God to receive the sacrifice. The prophets of Baal wait in vain for the fire that refuses to come and burn their sacrifice. On the other hand, Elijah’s call to God is answered immediately. Fire descends from the sky, burns the sacrifice, and consumes it. The people saw the miracle, fall on their faces and call out, “The Lord is God, the Lord is God” (Kings 18: 39). Elijah the prophet pursues the prophets of Baal, and they escape to the Kishon River, Just below the Muhrka summit, where they are slaughtered to the last.
Bible mention - 1 Kings 18: 17-46
Read the Full Text
Text: “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel , and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carme l. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follows him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them, therefore, give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: And with the stones, he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.”
Our Hike starts at the parking of the Muhraka (1).
Walk a few meters down the road and look for a trail with ‡Red‡ markers heading left into the forest.
Follow this ‡Red‡ trail for 1 kilometer and enjoy the pleasant shade of the Mediterranean forest, until a junction with a dirt road (2).
Turn right on the dirt road and continue to follow the ‡Red‡ markers. after about 700 meters you will reach the Karach Ruins.
Karach Ruins (Mount Carmel)
The remains of a Jewish settlement from the 2nd to the 6th centuries CE (Late Roman and Byzantine periods) in the Mount Carmel ridge, near the Muhraka. It was inhabited by Jews who were exiled by the Romans from Judea and Samaria. The settlement was based on agriculture and grazing. Many water cisterns were dug in the area in order to compensate for the shortage of water resources in mount Carmel. The site has a developed agricultural system (the use of terraces) as well as an olive press, burial caves, a winepress, and a local quarry. The site has never been formally excavated and not a lot can be seen. But the mix of the ruins with the Carmel scenery around is lovely.
Leave the trail and climb a few meters to the top of the hill above the Ruins to get a beautiful view of the Carmel ridge.
Continue for a bit on the ‡Red‡ marked trail until it junctions with a ‡Black‡ marked dirt road (3).
Turn left with the ‡Red‡ marked trail and follow it for about 1200 meters along the wadi bed until a junction with a ‡Black‡ marked dirt road (4).
At this point, the ‡Red‡ marked trail continues down the Wadi. Ignore it, and follow the ‡Black‡ marked dirt road.
You are now on the “Derech Nof Carmel” (The Carmel view road). It is a 20 Kilometers long dirt road that passes east of the Carmel ridge with great view all along. It is passable also with passenger vehicles but is most popular with mountain bikers and 4WD.
Follow it with the ‡Black‡ markers for about 4 kilometers and enjoy the view. At the beginning to the south and gradually changing to the east.
When you reach a junction with a ‡Red‡ marked trail (5), turn left and make a short but steep climb to the Carmelite Monastery of Elijah at the Muhraka.
Carmelite Monastery of the prophet Elijah
The old monastery belongs to the Carmelite Order, whose members arrived to the Holy Land from Europe in the 17th century. The Carmelite monastery carries the name of its patron, the Prophet Elijah. The Order was established on the Carmel in the time of the Crusaders; it adopted the figure of the prophet Elijah who fought zealously against the heretics of his time. From the roof (access is via the shop), you can see the Mediterranean, Mt Hermon (when it’s clear), and everything in between. In front of the building, there is a peaceful little garden with a statue of Elijah and a small walking trail. Opening hours: 09:00-12:00 and 13:00-17:00
Climb the stairs from the left side of the souvenir shop to the observation deck on the roof of the building. The view from here is one of the most impressive on Mount Carmel. To the north, we can see the statue of Elijah, which is now at our eye level. To the east, the rocky terrain of Mount Carmel, and Beneath the Jezreel Valley. In the valley, across the main road adjacent to the slopes of the mountain, flows the Kishon stream and at the far end of the valley stands Mount Tabor. The high hills of Samaria. the Mediterranean Sea and Mount Hermon can also be seen on a clear day.
It’s a perfect spot to relax and read/listen to the Biblical story detailed in the introductions of the hike.
Exit the site and walk down the road to the Muhraka parking (starting point) .