Castle Belvoir – Israel

The Belvoir Fortress is a Crusader fortress in northern Israel that sits atop a rise that overlooks much of Israel and the Jordan River Valley. It is the best-preserved Crusader defensive works in and around the Holy Land.

The Knights Hospitaller purchased the site in 1168. Sitting 1,600 feet above the Jordan River Valley, the plateau commands the surrounding region. To the north is the Sea of Galilee and to the west are hills.

As soon as the Knights Hospitaller purchased the land they began construction of Belvoir Castle.

These knights built at least 13 castles in Israel and a few others outside of the Land at this time, but Belvoir was the most important.

Belvoir was a major obstacle to the Muslim goal of invading the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem from the east. It withstood an attack by Muslim forces in 1180. During the campaign of 1182, the “Battle of Belvoir Castle” was fought here between King Baldwin IV of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and Saladin. A Sunni Muslim of Kurdish origin, Saladin led the Muslim military campaign against the Crusader states in the Levant.

Following Saladin’s victory over the Crusaders at the battle of the Horns of Hattin, Belvoir was besieged. The siege lasted a year and a half, until the defenders surrendered on 5 January 1189. The Arab armies largely occupied the site until 1219. In 1241 Belvoir was ceded to the Franks, who controlled it until 1263.

In modern times it became an Arab village, Kawkab al-Hawa, whose inhabitants fled during the 1947-48 civil war.

‘The Hebrew name, “Kochav Hayarden”, meaning Star of the Jordan, preserves the name of Kochava – a Jewish village which existed nearby during the Roman and Byzantine periods.

From the top of the Castle Belvoir, you can get a sense of the locations of important Biblical events:

Brook Cherith

The Brook Cherith lies just across the Jordan from Beth She’an. It is usually identified with “Wadi al-Yabis” and flows into the Jordan at a spot opposite and slightly south of Beth She’an. It is a perfect location to hide. During summer, the stream is dry. Olive trees grow on its banks, and it is home to an array of wildlife.

Scriptural Significance

The Brook Cherith is the place where Elijah hid when he was fleeing from King Ahab in I Kings 17: 2-9: The Lord took care of Elijah, feeding him in a naturally way (from the brook) and supernaturally via the ravens – it is the same way with us through jobs and answered prayers

The Lord caused the brook to eventually dry up for Elijah – it can be the same with us. Sometimes the Lord will allow our brooks to dry up as well (through the loss of a job or the end of a relationship) to move us along just like he moved Elijah.