Horns of Hittim

This site is  located on an extinct volcano. It was a Biblical city (maybe Adamah which is referred in Joshua), but is best known for the battle between Saladin and the Crusaders in 1187.

Joshua 19 32-6: "The sixth lot came out to the children of Naphtali, ... And the fenced cities are ... Rakkath, and Chinnereth, and Adamah, ..."


Home > Sites > Sea of Galilee> Horns of Hittim (Biblical Adamah?)










Battle 1187


* General

* Crater

* North Horn

* South Horn

* Eastern side

* Southern

* Nature







   "Horns of Hittim" is a steep hill that dominates the area around it. It is an extinct volcano, and due to its twin peaks ("horns") on each side of the crater it has the form of a bull. A Canaanite and Israelite city were located at each  side, perhaps  the site of the Biblical city of "Adamah".

   The decisive battle of the Crusaders and Saladin was held in the valley below it in 1187, signaling the beginning of the end for the Crusaders Kingdom in the Holy Land. From the site is a great view of the area and is a recommended site to visit.




   The site is located on the road to Tiberias. The site was in a strategic location and was easy to defend due to its height (326M above sea). There are roads on the north and south,  and the hill is higher by 300M and 125M, respectively, which is quite steep.


   In ancient times the road from the sea of Galilee to the west passed north to the hill. On this ancient road was the battle between the Crusaders and the Arab armies, when the former army advanced from Sepphoris to Tiberias, in hope to break the siege off the Crusaders' fortress in the city.   In modern times the road passes to the south of it. When driving from Golani junction towards Tiberias, the hill stands out over the ridge on the left side.


  The aerial map below is a view of the area from the south  side. The form of the crater of the extinct volcano can be easily seen on the top of the hill in the center, with two peaks ("horns") - north and south.


Pointing on  purple points will automatically scroll  to the relevant photo.


   On top of the hill there are traces of walls that were built around the edges. In the center of the hill is the crater, with traces of very large stones that were part of its inner defense line. In the south side of the hill, on a higher peak,  are dual defense walls.

   Below the hill was the Roman and Arabic village of Hittim, now in ruins. A spring (Hittim) flows there all year long, and was the place where the thirsty Crusaders tried to get to during the battle. Near it is the holy Druze tomb (Nebe Shueb), which is according to their tradition the tombs of Jethro (father-in-law of Moses) and Zipporah (wife of Moses).

   The modern agriculture village (a Moshav) of Ein-Zeitim is located north to Nebe Shueb. Another Moshav, Hittim, is located closer to Tiberias.





   This hill was inhabited from the late Bronze age. The city walls from this period were built on the southern "horn" (peak), dated to the 14th-12th century BC.

   There are several attempts to identify the city:



  The Israelites replaced the Canaanites, but fortified their city on the northern "horn". A city from this period is dated to the 10th-8th C BC.



     In the Hellenistic period (3-4 century BC) the city relocated to the village under the hill - located in Khirbet Hittim. This relocation was typical to all Tells in Israel, due to the limited size and the lack of water required for a greater population.



   According to some Christian traditions, this hill was the place where Jesus gave his important  sermon on the mountain (Mt 5, Lk 6:20) to the multitude that assembled to see and hear him. Yet another tradition holds the location closer to  Capernaum - on Mt Beatitudes.



   During the Crusaders period (12th century) the biblical city on the hill was abandoned, and the knights that fled to the top during the battle could not find any water, and surrendered.




   In Israel's independence war the villagers of lower Hittim used the hill to attack the traffic to Tiberias. They built communication trenches and fortifications on the edges of the hill. After a night attack on July 18, 1948 the Israeli forces captured the fortress.



     Today the hill is a national park ("Qarne Hittin"), and open to the public. The site is accessed from the Tiberias-Golani road (#77), by a dirt road that starts from the underpass to the Lower Galilee industrial park. It is best to arrive from the direction of Tiberias.



The Battle in 1187:


The events of the decisive battle of the Crusaders against Saladin's army are as follows:


  Date Event
  July 1, 1187 Saladin cross the Jordan
  July 2 (day) Part of Saladin's army takes Tiberias, starts siege on its fortress
  July 2 (day) Main part of Saladin's army camps in Kefar Sabet (east to Sede Ilan).
  July 2 (night) Tiberias sends messengers to Sepphoris, asking for help
  July 3 (day) Crusaders forces attacked on the way from Sepphoris to Tiberias and blocked from getting to Hittim springs (the only source of water in the area)
  July 3 (evening) Crusaders camp in Mishkana (near Golani junction and west to Hittim)
  July 4 (dawn) Arab forces torch the fields in attempt to block the Crusaders
  July 4 (morning) Arab forces attack the thirsty and tired Crusaders below the Horns of Hittim
  July 4 (day) The crusaders split their forces, making it easier for the Arabs to win the battle
  July 4 (evening) Most of the Crusaders are either dead or captured
  July 4 (evening) Some of the knights flee to the top of Horns of Hittim; eventually surrender there


   The following photo shows a view of the valley of Hittim from the east.  The place of the battle is on the right (north) side.  The road along the valley is where the Crusaders were heading towards Tiberias, in an effort to remove the siege.

   The Horns of Hittim is seen on the left (south) side.   Notice the double peaks of the hill, which is the source of the name (horns of a bull).


Hittim from the east





(a) General Views:


   A field of wheat is seen in the photo below, with the Horns of Hittim in its background. The Hebrew word Hittim/Hittin means "wheat".


Click on the photos  to view in higher resolution...


The photo below shows the hill from the south-east side.



  The road passes the site on its south-western side. 



   The road then climbs up to the center of the hill, located on the right side of the photo below. This was the main entrance to the city. Above the entrance are ruins of the tall walls on both of its sides.



(b) The Crater:


   After entering into the top of the hill from the western side, the road enters a large flat area. This is the center of the hill - a deep crater of the extinct volcano. The view below is observed from the south "horn" looking towards the north "horn".



The road crosses the crater from the western entrance to the east side of the hill, seen here in the background.



  The following photo shows another view of the crater. Along the rim of the crater are olive trees and the ruins of a low wall from an unknown date.



(c) North Horn:


On the north side of the crater is a hill. Here was the location of the Israelite city, dated to 10th-8thC BC.



(d) South Horn:


   On the south "horn" are traces of two large walls. This was the location of the Canaanite city, dated to the 14th-12th C BC. An upper and smaller wall surrounds the south peak with a total area of 5 Dunam, while a larger wall is located on the lower side of the hill, covering an area of 9 Dunam.



The large and lower wall is seen in the following picture. This wall is dated to the Canaanite period (14th-12th C BC).



A closer view of the Canaanite wall:



A great view of the western entrance - behind the three olive trees - is seen from the wall.



Another view from the wall towards the eastern edge of the hill:



(e) Eastern side:


   Along the eastern rim is a line of olive trees and traces of a low wall that extends along the edge. This can be seen on the left side below.


  Behind the right side, in the far background, is the edge of the Arbel cliffs. Further away in the distance is the Sea of Galilee. On the far right side are the houses of the modern agriculture Moshav Arbel, named after the Roman/Byzantine village whose ruins are located on its northern side, including a grand ancient synagogue.



The south-eastern slopes are shown in the picture below. The city of Tiberias is visible on the far right background.





(f) Southern side:


   A monument is located on the south side of the hill, constructed by a Christian order - The Church of God, Cleveland Tennessee. This was erected in order to mark the place where, according to their belief, was the location of the sermon on the mountain.  There are two inscriptions with verses from Deuteronomy (27 2-3): " thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law..." and from Mark (3 13): "And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him".



(g) Nature:


   A flock of white storks were observed at the south-east side of the site. The area along the Jordan valley is a major route of migrating birds. They travel between eastern Europe (spring and summer) and central Africa (winter and fall). According to Zechariah, the stork is a high rising bird that swiftly moves between continents (5,9): "... and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up ... between the earth and the heaven".



Biblical References:


(a) Joshua 11:1


   This text lists Madon ("quarrel" in Hebrew) as one of the Canaanite cities that arranged forces against the Israelites. Madon was one of the candidates for the identification of Horns of Hittim, but this suggestion is less likely than the next one.


"And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph,"

(b) Joshua 11:5-9


Another suggestion is "Waters of Merom", where Joshua beat the coalition Canaanites:


"And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel. And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire. So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them. And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining. And Joshua did unto them as the LORD bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire".


(c) Joshua 19:32, 35, 36


   This text describes the region of the Naphtali tribe, and the fenced city Adamah (earth in Hebrew) is another candidate for the city in the Horns of Hittim. This suggestion, by Y. Aharoni, is the preferred identification, and was also validated by the archaeological survey of the external walls on top of the hill, dating from the Israelite period (9th C BC).


"The sixth lot came out to the children of Naphtali, even for the children of Naphtali according to their families....

And the fenced cities are Ziddim, Zer, and Hammath, Rakkath, and Chinnereth,
And Adamah, and Ramah, and Hazor,"

(d) Exodus 3:1


Jethro's tomb is according to the Druze tradition is located at the footsteps of the horns of Hittim:

1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

(e) Matthew 5: 1,2



  This text describes the sermon on the mountain (chapters 5-7), believed by some Christians to be located at the Horns of Hittim:


"And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases";



Sermon on the mountain - by Gustav Dore (French artist, 1832-1883)


(f) Luke 6:17-20 ; Luke 7:1


   This is another text on Jesus sermon before the multitude, believed to be at the horns of Hittim by some traditions:

"And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God".


However, the next chapter reads:


"Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum."


Thus, the mountain is located near Capernaum as believed by most Christians (on Mt Beatitudes).



Carta's Atlas of the Bible - Y. Aharoni [Carta Jerusalem 1974] - Shop for this must-have book.

 The author identified the Horns of Hittim with "Adamah".     Maps: 72, 113


Laurence Oliphant "Haifa, or Life in Modern Palestine"

 His article was published on  May 27 1884 with the title "Religious Druze Festival", where he tells his readers about his visit to the footsteps of the horns of Hittim, where the holy Druze tomb (nebe shueb) is located.


Etymology (behind the name):

    Horns of Hittim - in Hebrew the name of the hill is "Karnei Khittin", or the horns of the wheat, since in Hebrew these words mean Karnei = Horns, Hittin = wheat.

    This name was derived from the fact the the fields under the hill were used (and still are) to grow wheat, and the hill has two peaks (looks like bull's horns). Since biblical Israel were mostly farmers, the places are normally called after agriculture terms.




Webmaster Rotem posing in background of Horns of Hittim

Webmaster Rotem posing before the horns of Hittim, seen from the south






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