Mount Betarim

About this place

Mount Betarm is located in northern Israel, close to the Lebanese border, it is one of the peaks of Mt. Dov near Mount Hermon. The mountain has an elevation of 1296 meters above sea level and is the site of archaeological remains which include an ancient settlement from the Hellenistic Period and Byzantine Period.

The archaeological findings include ancient pottery and agricultural terraces where crops would have been grown on the mountain slopes. Mount Betarim is also home to two water reservoirs created to collect floodwater that flows into the Betarim Stream. Visitors can hike through the untamed countryside on Mt. Betarim and see the remains of ancient structures. However, part of the mount is military property, and not accessible to the public.

Covenant Between the Pieces (Covenant of the Parts or Brit Bein ha-Betarim)

In the Old Testament (Genesis 12-17), we read about covenants made between God and Abraham. When Abraham voices concern about his future and being childless, God tells Abraham he will have a son and that his descendants will be as plentiful as the stars in the night sky. He tells Abraham to make an animal sacrifice, and instructs him to slaughter certain animals, and arrange the carcasses into two rows. Smoke and fire rose from between the pieces (giving the covenant its name).

Abraham falls asleep and God makes several promises to him including that Abraham’s people will be strangers in a land not their own for hundreds of years and they will return to Canaan. Both Abraham’s naturally born, and adopted descendants will inherit the Promised Land from Egypt to the Euphrates. “To your seed will I give this land.” Another important covenant made between Abraham and God on Mount Betarim, is that circumcision will be a sign of the everlasting bond between God and the descendants of Abraham.

One Jewish tradition holds that God made this covenant with Abraham on Mount Betarim. It was the first of several covenants made between God and the Jewish People. Mt. Betarim is also held sacred by Muslims. The Quran tells of Makam Ibrahim Al-Khalil or the Sacred Site of Abraham’s Birds, where God tells Abraham to sacrifice birds from four different species, before bringing them back to life. Both the Jewish and Muslim traditions associated with Mount Betarim center on a sacrifice made by Abraham, to God.

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