Elijah’s Cave & the Mukhraka
Mount Carmel is a limestone range that stretches for almost 16 miles southwards from the modern city of Haifa. It is here that we find Elijah’s Cave, also known to the Christian world as the Cave of Madonna. Legend has it that the Holy family found shelter here on their return to the Holy Land from Egypt.
But the history of the Carmel Stretches much farther back into the very mists of time. Scattered along the heights overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, numerous caves have been found containing human remains dating back 100,000 years to the middle period of the Old Stone Age.
In the caves of the Nachal Hamearot Nature Reserve some of the earliest examples of human habitation in the world are on public display.
In Biblical times the heights of the Carmel mountains were considered the seat of Baal, one of the main gods worshipped by the Canaanite peoples of the region. When the Jewish people turned to wickedness and started following Baal, the prophet Elijah punished them by causing a drought to come upon the land. Then the famous mountaintop confrontation took place on the Carmel between the prophet Elijah and 450 priests of Baal. Calling upon the people to return from evil and follow the one true God, Elijah challenged the priests to have Baal himself ignite their altar. They failed, and Elijah built an altar of his own, had twelve barrels of water poured over it, and then called on God to ignite it.
God did so, as it is recorded, “Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked the up water that was in the trench”, 1 Kings 18:38.
This event took place at the southern end of the range at a spot called the Mukhraka, a name taken from the Arabic word for burn. A statue of Elijah stands at the site, upon a base decorated with details of the event. A monastery erected by the Carmelite order stands nearby.
The biographer of Pythagoras, the famed Greek mathematician of the 6th century BC and founder of the esoteric school of Samos called the “Semicircle”, states that the philosopher often came to the Holy Land “to meditate in the sacred place of Carmel”.
Man’s earliest ancestors once inhabited many of the caves in the Nachal Hamearot Nature Reserve.Share this page with your friends
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