Banias: The Fountain of the Jordan
We were recently devising an itinerary for 44 people—most of them young—traveling to Israel. They felt they simply had to see all the sites associated with the Bible—which meant a lot of ruins! We knew we’d need some relief from the heat and the glare of sun on stone. We wondered, was there a site where we could combine the thrill of Biblical archaeology with some cool shade and the sound of running water? Where, in the words of the Scottish Bible scholar George Adam Smith, whose Historical Geography of the Holy Land (1894) we still treasure, could we give them “a vision of the Land as a whole” and help them “hear through it the sound of living history”?
Then we remembered Banias, located at the foot of Mt. Hermon, in the northernmost reaches of Israel. On our last trip to Israel, a visit to this site with our children revived both our spirits and theirs. Here, you may follow the Hermon River as it gushes forth from the rock, pause to explore the ancient remains it flows past and continue on with the roar of water in your ears as it tumbles down a gorge to what is almost certainly the biggest waterfall in the country. This easy, hour-long hike along one of the sources of the Jordan provides the perfect antidote to archaeology fatigue.