. . . your guide to visiting the holy places  
If you have found See the Holy Land helpful and would like to support our work, please make a secure donation.
The Sites

Israel and Palestine – In Jerusalem

Israel and Palestine – Outside Jerusalem

Jordan

Egypt

Extras

Elijah’s Cave

Israel

 

The caves of Mount Carmel were well known to Elijah, the Old Testament prophet. Here he sometimes lived — and sometimes had to hide.

Elijah's Cave

Statue of Elijah at Mukhraka (© Biblicalisraeltours.com)

On the northern slope of Mount Carmel, near the Haifa beach, is a cave where the prophet is believed to have meditated before his fateful encounter with the priests of Baal.

In this encounter, described in 1 Kings 18:1-40, Elijah issued a challenge to 450 pagan priests. Before an assembly on the summit of Mount Carmel, he called on the priests to seek fire from their god Baal to light a sacrifice.

When Baal failed to respond to their pleading, Elijah rebuilt the ruined altar of the Lord and offered his own sacrifice. Immediately fire from heaven consumed the offering, even though it had been soaked in water.

 

Venerated by four faiths

Elijah’s Cave can be approached by stairs from Allenby Road, near Haifa’s cable car. It is also accessible down a steep path from the Carmelite church on Stella Maris Road.

Elijah's Cave

Entry to Elijah’s Cave, males to the right, females to the left (© BibleWalks.com)

The cave, about 14 metres long, is situated in a residential dwelling. It is open to the public, with separate areas for males and females. Adjacent buildings served as a hostel from the late 19th century.

Elijah is venerated by Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze, all of whom come as pilgrims. Writings left by pilgrims in past centuries can be seen on the cave walls.

Curative properties have been ascribed to the cave over the years, including the curing of mental illnesses.

Possible site of ‘school of prophets’

Among the traditions associated with the cave is that Elijah hid here from the wrath of Jezebel, who had introduced worship of her Phoenician god Baal to the land.

Elijah's Cave

Women’s section of Elijah’s Cave (Daniel Ventura)

It is also thought that Elijah established a “school of prophets” here on his return from exile at Mount Sinai. If so, this would be where his successor Elisha, among others, studied.

No Old Testament prophet is referred to as frequently in the New Testament as Elijah. Both Jesus and John the Baptist were on occasions thought to be reincarnations of Elijah.

A small cave under Stella Maris Monastery, at the western edge of Mount Carmel, is held by a Christian tradition to be a place where Elijah also occasionally lived.

Other sites in the area:

Mount Carmel

Stella Maris Monastery

Baha’i Shrine

 

In Scripture:

Elijah triumphs over the priests of Baal: 1 Kings 18:1-40

 

Administered by: Israel Ministry of Religious Affairs

Open: Sun-Thur 8am-5pm, Fri 8am-1pm

References

Blaiklock, E. M.: Eight Days in Israel (Ark Publishing, 1980)
Brownrigg, Ronald: Come, See the Place: A Pilgrim Guide to the Holy Land (Hodder and Stoughton, 1985)
Freeman-Grenville, G. S. P.: The Holy Land: A Pilgrim’s Guide to Israel, Jordan and the Sinai (Continuum Publishing, 1996)
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Inman, Nick, and McDonald, Ferdie (eds): Jerusalem & the Holy Land (Eyewitness Travel Guide, Dorling Kindersley, 2007)

 

External links

Elijah’s Cave, Carmel (BibleWalks)
Elijah’s Cave, Haifa (Sacred Destinations)

 

Mount Carmel

Israel

Mount Carmel

View from top of Mt Carmel (Patrick Brennan)

The prophet Elijah’s fire-lighting challenge — one of the Old Testament’s most spectacular contests between Yahweh, the God of the Israelites, and a pagan deity — took place on the south-eastern summit of Mount Carmel.

Stretching south-east from the Mediterranean Sea, with the city of Haifa sloped against it, Mount Carmel is actually a coastal range rather than a mountain.

From ancient times it was considered a sacred place. It is often cited in the Old Testament for its beauty and fertility.

The 6th-century Greek mathematician Pythagoras is recorded to have visited the mountain because of its reputation for sacredness, stating that it was “the most holy of all mountains, and access was forbidden to many”.

Elijah called fire from heaven

Elijah’s challenge came during a period after successive kings “did evil in the sight of the Lord” (1 Kings 16:30).

King Ahab had married the Phoenician princess Jezebel. She turned his allegiance from Yahweh to her god Baal and had Yahweh’s prophets slaughtered.

So Elijah called on Ahab to assemble the 450 priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. There he challenged the priests to call on fire from Baal to light a sacrifice.

As the book of 1 Kings relates, Baal failed to respond to the priests’ cries. Then Elijah rebuilt the ruined altar of the Lord and offered a sacrifice. Immediately fire from heaven consumed the offering, even though it had been soaked in water.

Biblical scholar E. M. Blaiklock captures the vividness of the scene: “Picture it — the rabble of priests, their monotonous chant hypnotising the devotees to the point when they slashed body and limb in wild passion, the shaggy prophet sitting near and mocking their vain supplications, Ahab’s tent and rich entourage, the great curve of the watching, waiting host. Then the stab of fire and the burning sacrifice . . . .”

 

Statue marks site

Mount Carmel

Statue of Elijah slaying a Baal priest at Muhraka (© Biblicalisraeltours)

On the south-eastern peak of Mount Carmel, the site is now known as Muhraka (“the Scorching”).

It is marked by a dramatic stone statue of Elijah, sword raised to heaven as he slaughters a Baal priest, and a small Carmelite monastery, surrounded by a nature reserve.

A superb view takes in the plain of Esdraelon and southern Galilee.

On the plain below is the Kishon brook, where Elijah took the priests of Baal and had them put to death.

 

Caves associated with Elijah

Mount Carmel

Stella Maris Monastery on Mount Carmel (Ilan)

At the western edge of Mount Carmel is Stella Maris Monastery, the world headquarters of the Carmelites, a Catholic religious order.

A small cave under the monastery is held by a Christian tradition to be a place where Elijah occasionally lived — as people on Mount Carmel have lived in caves since prehistoric times.

Opposite the monastery, a footpath down towards the Mediterranean leads to another grotto called Elijah’s Cave. Here the prophet is said to have meditated before his encounter with the priests of Baal. The cave is also thought to be where Elijah established a “school of prophets”.

Mount Carmel’s most spectacular religious memorial, however, is the Baha’i Shrine of the Báb, which runs in manicured terraces up the northern slope. The site is a sacred place for Baha’is around the world.

Sites in the area:

Stella Maris Monastery

Elijah’s Cave

Baha’i Shrine

 

In Scripture:

Elijah triumphs over the priests of Baal: 1 Kings 18:1-40

 

 

References

Blaiklock, E. M.: Eight Days in Israel (Ark Publishing, 1980)
Brownrigg, Ronald: Come, See the Place: A Pilgrim Guide to the Holy Land (Hodder and Stoughton, 1985)
Charlesworth, James H.: The Millennium Guide for Pilgrims to the Holy Land (BIBAL Press, 2000)
Freeman-Grenville, G. S. P.: The Holy Land: A Pilgrim’s Guide to Israel, Jordan and the Sinai (Continuum Publishing, 1996)
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Inman, Nick, and McDonald, Ferdie (eds): Jerusalem & the Holy Land (Eyewitness Travel Guide, Dorling Kindersley, 2007)

 

External links

Mount Carmel (Wikipedia)
Mount Carmel (BiblePlaces)
Mount Carmel (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Muhraka Hike (Israel by Foot)
All content © 2017, See the Holy Land | Site by Ravlich Consulting & Mustard Seed
You are welcome to promote site content and images through your own
website or blog, but please refer to our Terms of Service | Login