Mount CarmelÂ was most significant in ancient times as a barrier to traffic along the coastal plain.Â The 1500-foot high limestone mountain impeded armies and merchants traveling to theÂ Jezreel Valley. Biblically, Mt. Carmel is referenced most often as a symbol of beauty and fertility.Â To be given the“splendor of Carmel”Â was to be blessed indeed (Isa 35:2).Â Â SolomonÂ praised his beloved: “your head crowns you like Mount Carmel” (Song 7:5).Â But for Carmel to wither was a sign of devastating judgment (Nahum 1:4). This is probably the best view of the area ofÂ Elijah’sÂ contest, assuming tradition is correct.Â The monastery of Muhraqa is at the top of the hill, but tradition places the contest slightly lower near a spring.
The crowds of Israelites would have filled the spacious territory around to see whose God would win.The statue at the Carmelite monastery reflects the Lord’s victory over the prophets ofÂ BaalÂ Shortly after fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, altar and even the water,ElijahÂ had the prophets of Baal slaughtered at theÂ Brook KishonÂ something which should have happened long before! BecauseÂ Mt. CarmelÂ sits astride theÂ International HighwayÂ (sometimes called theÂ Via Maris), three passes through the mountain became significant routes of travel in the ancient world.Â