The Mount of Transfiguration

The Transfiguration Lodovico Carracci 1594
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English: Church of Transfiguration, Mount Tabo...
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Luke 9:28-36
The Transfiguration
…after Jesus said this,… went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning….
Location: Mount of Transfiguration – Israel

— with LX Atsa and Sylvia Murray.

Mount of Transfiguration

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English: Church of Transfiguration, Mount Tabo...
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One of the unknowns of the New Testament is the identification of the mountain where Jesus underwent his Transfiguration. The Matthew account of the Transfiguration is as follows.

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” (Matthew 17:1-9, KJV)

Three candidates for this mountain have been suggested:

  • Mount Hermon, for two reasons: It is the highest in the area (and the Transfiguration took place on “an high mountain” (Matthew 17:1)), and it is located near Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13), where the previous events reportedly took place.

(Note* – However, it is important to note that this location was extremely far from Jerusalem, and Yeshua & his Disciples would have been in Jerusalem for the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles), as it is one of three Pilgrimage feasts set forth in Leviticus 23, thereby making Mt. Hermon an unlikely reality for the place of Transfiguration)

Mount Hermon = 9,232 feet High. (33°24′N, 35°51′E; Hebrew: הר חרמון‎, Har Hermon) More Information on Mount Hermon

Mount Tabor = 1,886′ High. (Hebrew: הר תבור‎), For more information on Mount Tabor: Mount Tabor

  • Mount Sinai. This has been suggested by Benjamin Urrutia on the basis of the presence of Moses and Elijah (two prophets traditionally associated with Mount Sinai). This is, however, unlikely since Sinai is rather geographically remote.

Mount Sinai = 7497′ High. (Arabic: طور سيناء , Hebrew: הר סיני), For more information on Mount Sinai: Mount Sinai

Jesus was claimed to stand on the Mountain with Elijah and Moses. These would be the three figures which had the most miracles surrounding them in the Bible. Moses, representing the law and Elijah, the prophets. In Luke Jesus spoke to Moses of Jesus departure( in Greek exodus ).

29And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure,[a] which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. ( Luke 9:29-31 ESV)

Peter who was one of the claimed eyewitnesses with James and John reflects on this in 2 Peter about Peter’s own departure – exodus.

13I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. 16We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. (2 Peter 1:13-18 ESV )

This account is one of three in the New Testament where God is heard audibly speaking. All three accounts concern Jesus. They are:

  • Jesus’ baptism ( Mk 1:9-11)
  • The mount of transfiguration ( Mk 9:14-29 )
  • At the temple when Greeks approach Jesus ( Jn 12: 20-26 )

The account of the Transfiguration occurs six (Matthew 17:1, Mark 9:2) or eight (Luke 9:28) days after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah at Caesarea Phillipi and immediately followed by coming down off the mountain and healing an epileptic boy. Peter’s confession and Jesus’ announcement He would die and rise are both in a sense confirmed with the discussion of Jesus’ “exodus – departure” with Moses. The mountain top experience contrasts with the difficulties of life and healing of the boy ( Mk:14-29).

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