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A hike from Har Sha'ul (Mount Sha'ul) on the Gilboa Mountain Range

This circular hike on the Gilboa Mountain Range begins on Har Sha’ul (Mount Sha’ul), which commemorates the final battle of King Saul, the first king of the Jewish kingdom. Under his leadership, the Israelites fought the Philistines in the Jezreel Valley, and he and his three sons died somewhere along this 18 Km-mountain range. From this hike are spectacular views over the Harod Valley, the eastern part of the Jezreel Valley.



Time: 2½ hours.

Distance: Just over 5½ Km.

Type of hike: Circular

Difficulty: Much of this hike is on easy jeep roads. However, the first part of the hike is on a rocky descent which involves slightly difficult footwork but no climbing and which is not at all dangerous. The return involves inclines on paved roads.

Directions: Enter “הר שאול“ into Waze and click on  “הר שאול מצפור הר שאול.“ This will bring you to the parking lot at the end of the access road from route 667.

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  • There are two observation points at the ends of the parking lot overlooking the Harod Valley. The eastern observation point faces towards Bet She’an. The western observation area faces towards Givat HaMoreh (Hill of Moreh) on the far side of the valley. Two paths connect these two observation points – a paved upper path and an unpaved footpath a bit lower down. Take either.


At the base of Givat HaMoreh is the Arab village of Sulam. In Biblical times it was called Shunem. In the battle between King Saul and the Israelite army and the Philistines, this was where the Philistine army was camped, while the Israelite army was encamped somewhere along Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:4). The modern settlements of Kfar Yehezkel, Gever and Ein Harod are beneath you. The rounded dome of Mount Tavor can be seen in the distance.


  • From the western observation area, cross the main access road and go down the hill on the well-marked, black-marked footpath. You will soon come to a shaded observation structure. Continue on the black-marked path. This will eventually cross a gravel jeep trail. Soon, you will again meet this green-marked jeep trail. Cross it again for the continuation of the black-marked trail on the other side of the road.


  • When the black-marked footpath comes to an end, turn right on the green-marked gravel jeep trail. You will soon come to a T-junction. Follow the green-marked path to the Memorial to the Seven (אנדרטת השבעה), on the hill Givat Yehonatan. This is a memorial to seven fighters from Kibbutz Ein Harod who were killed during the 1948 War of Independence.

In March 1948 an Arab gang laid an ambush for workers who had come to check the nearby quarry. Forces working in Ein Harod came to their assistance and held the heights of Yehonatan, but they were also fired upon. The battle was eventually stopped by the British, but seven fighters from the kibbutzim lost their lives.


  • Retrace your steps to where the black footpath ended by the green-marked jeep trail. You now have a choice. You can either return the way you came up the steep hill or continue on a circular hike for a total of about 2½ hours. This is also on an uphill incline, but more gradual and less steep.

  • If you decide on the circular hike, continue on the green-marked trail following the signs indicatingיציאה  (exit).


  • When you eventually come to a 4-way junction, turn left onto the red-marked trail. This will lead you to the parking lot and your car.

Overlooking the Harod Valley

Overlooking the Harod Valley from Mount Saul.

Monument on Givat Yonatan

Memorial to the Seven who fell during the War of Independence on Givat Yonatan.

Map of hike on the Gilboa Mountain Range from Mount Sha’ul


To follow your location on your smart phone, click on   Click on the black box with a cross at the top left of the map and it should change color to green. It is not necessary to download the program unless you wish to.

The noble death of King Saul


King Saul was the first king of Israel, reigning at the end of the 11th century BCE. The Bible’s depiction of him is very much colored by his failure to complete the assignment given to him by the prophet Samuel of eradicating the tribe of Amalek. Because of this, he lost his dynasty. According to the Book of Chronicles, this was also the reason he was killed in battle (I Chronicles 10:13)). On the other hand, he was a courageous, effective and God-fearing military leader – which is why he was chosen for kingship.


Saul was appointed by the prophet Samuel following the urging of the tribes (and against Samuel’s advice) because they appreciated the need for a strong military leader to protect them from the Philistines living along the coastal plain.


By all indications, Saul was very successful in defending the Israelite kingdom (other than at his final battle). As the Bible tell us: “There was hard fighting against the Philistines all the days of Saul, and when Saul saw a strong man, or any valued man, he attached him to himself” (Samuel 1 14:52). He also engaged successfully in war against the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, the king of Zobah and Amalekites (1 Samuel 14:47-8). He is described as being a humble person, adoring of the prophet Samuel, and completely monotheistic. He enforced aspects of Torah law in the country, such as the prohibition against necromancy and divination.


Nevertheless, his humility and self-effacing were not always appropriate, and when asked by Samuel to launch an attack and destroy Amalek, thereby fulfilling a Torah command, he acceded to the wishes of his soldiers and kept alive the Amalekite king (probably for a public execution) and the best of their flocks. On the instructions of God, Samuel appointed a new leader in secret in his stead. The young man appointed was David the son of Jesse. David would soon display his courage by defeating Goliath. He was also active in Saul’s army as a commander. His military prowess was recognized to the extent that the women sang “Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands” (I Samuel 18:8). However, this was not the type of song that Saul would have wished to hear.


After an upbeat beginning, much of the biblical story about Saul is devoted to his mood swings and depression, and his jealousy and paranoia about David attempting to take over his throne. Also, his pursuit of David and his efforts to kill him as a potential danger to the state. The irony is that David had indeed been anointed the future king of Israel by the prophet Samuel. However, it is clear from the Bible that David had no intention of ever killing an appointed king of Israel, and together with a band of discontents that had attached themselves to him, he did his best to stay as far away from Saul as possible.


The story of Saul’s death is both tragic and noble. The Philistines had advanced through the Jezreel Valley in an attempt to split the northern from the southern tribes. Saul, as the leader of the Israelite army, felt the need for assurance from God about this impending battle, either through a prophet, the Urim and Thummim stones (elements of the High Priest's' breast plate used in biblical times to foretell the future) or via a dream. But all were silent. Beside his mind with anxiety, he went in disguise to a medium in nearby Ein Dor to bring up the spirit of Samuel. Not only was this against Torah law, but Saul himself had made necromancy a capital offense. Assured that she would come to no harm, the medium brought up the image of Samuel from the dead. Samuel laid it on the line – Saul would die, so would his sons, and his army would be defeated. Saul fell in shock to the ground. Despite this, he had no thoughts of deserting his army and not leading them into battle.


Putting three biblical accounts of this battle together - the Israelite army fled from the Philistines. Many of the Israelite soldiers were killed on Mount Gilboa, including Saul’s sons. Seeing the Philistine archers closing in on him and aware that he would receive no mercy from the Philistines, Saul asked his armer bearer to kill him; but the armer bearer refused. Saul therefore fell on his own sword, as did the armer bearer. A young Amalekite found Saul on the battlefield and Saul asked him to finish the job, which he did (Samuel 2 1:9).


The Philistines found the dead bodies of Saul and his sons, and they decapitated Saul and impaled his body on the wall of Beit She'an. Soldiers from the Gilead, who were once rescued by Saul, removed his body from Beit She’an and buried him in their city.


It was time for new leadership of the Jewish people. After a prolonged civil war from his base in Hebron against a son of Saul, David became king of a united kingdom. He also ensured that the Philistines were no longer a threat to the Jewish kingdom.

Links to the HOME PAGE and best family activities, hikes and historic sites in the GOLAN, EASTERN GALILEE, UPPER GALILEE, LOWER GALILEE, JORDAN VALLEY & LAKE KINNERET, the SHEFELAH, TEL AVIV-YAFFO and surroundings, NORTH of TEL AVIV, and SOUTH of TEL AVIV.

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