Unique Sites of Israel: Biblical River Kison | The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com | Nosson Shulman | 8 Elul 5782 – September 4, 2022

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Kishon Biblical Stream

And I will draw to you, to the brook of Kison, Sisera the captain of the army of Jabin, with his chariots and his multitude; and I’ll put it in your hands (Judges 4:7)”

At 70 km, Kishon is one of the longest rivers in Israel. Speaking of the most visited biblical sites in Israel, the Kishon River is rarely on the top 100 list. Yet two incredible and dramatic Bible stories took place here.

The river is not particularly wide and in some narrower places “Brook” might be a more accurate description than “River”.
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The river begins at Mount Gilboa (near Beit Shean) and continues to Haifa, eventually emptying into the Mediterranean Sea.

The mouth of the river empties into the Mediterranean Sea north of Haifa.

The river served as a boundary between the tribes of Asher and Manasseh (see Joshua 19:26. Scholars say “Shihorlibnath” is another name for the Kishon River).

The Kishon River is best known for being the scene of the battle between Barak & Deborah and the Canaanite general Sisera (Judges 4). For 20 years, the ultra-powerful general, who commanded an army possessing 900 iron chariots (the ancient equivalent of having 900 of the most powerful chariots) oppressed the Jewish people. At that time, Deborah was both a prophetess and a judge. She called Barak (her husband according to some Jewish sources) who was sitting in Kedesh, to come and visit her (read more about Kedesh here).

Deborah called him to reveal G‑d’s prophecy that the Jewish people would go to war against Sisera and be victorious. Barak was assigned to muster 10,000 soldiers on Mount Tabor, while Gd would influence Sisera and his army to enter the Kishon River, ostensibly to attack the Jewish army. However, in reality, he was divinely drawn (according to Jewish sources, Gd even tricked Sisera into ignoring the advice of his astrologers who told him it was a trap).

Indeed, General Sisera was told that Barak and his men were on Mount Tabor, and he led his troops into the Kishon River. When Barak descended from the mountain to attack, Gd frightened and confused Sisera’s men. Gd also caused the Canaanites to get stuck in the Kison River (Judges 5:21). According to Jewish sources, G‑d performed a miracle and when the Canaanites entered the usually shallow and lazy stream, He turned the river into a raging torrent, which imprisoned some and swept away others. But when the Jews entered, they only felt the effects of a shallow, docile stream. Barak’s men then slaughtered the rest of Sisera’s army and destroyed his tanks (Sisera himself would flee and be trapped and killed by Yael). Because of the miracles that took place here, the Jewish people lived in peace in the land of Israel for the next 40 years.

The second major story that takes place beside this river involves Elijah the prophet (see Kings 18). On the nearby mountain of Carmel, Elijah challenged the 450 false prophets of baal, where he and they each offered a sacrifice on the altar. The one whom G‑d consumed by fire would reveal who the true prophet was. Gd performed a miracle, and fire came down from heaven and consumed Elijah’s sacrifice (read more about the Carmel Mountains and the unique miracle that happened there, click here). After Elijah proved them to be false prophets, he ordered them to be seized and taken to the stream of Kishon (which is just at the foot of the mountain) to be slaughtered (1 Kings 18:40).

The part of the Kishon River (circled in red) seen from the Carmel Mountains, where the false prophets were slain.
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In modern times (particularly around the industrial city of Haifa), the river was once the most polluted in Israel, due to nearby industrial waste centers contaminating the river with toxins. Over the past decade, the Israeli government has invested large sums of money to clean up the river and a beautiful park has been built. It has turned what was once one of the dirtiest parts of the river into a fun place to visit! In 2019 another large park along the river was approved and when completed will feature cycle paths, beautiful gardens, restaurants, sports facilities and a sailing club!

The new park under construction.
Photo credit: Nahal Kishon Authority

On your next trip to Israel, it is certainly worth visiting this beautiful and serene biblical site, especially since it can be done in conjunction with several other exciting sites nearby!

Please visit the author’s site about tourist guides in Israel: https://guidedtoursofisrael.com

(All images used are either free or properly licensed by the author for commercial purposes)

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