There are two mountains in northern Israel, or Samaria, that play an important part in the history of the Children of Israel. These mountains are Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. Moses instructed the Children of Israel to divide into two groups and pronounce blessings and curses from the two mountains when they came into the Promised Land. (Deuteronomy 27:12-13)
The first group was composed of representatives of six sons of Jacob by his wives, and they pronounced blessings from Mount Gerizim. The second group had representatives of two sons of Jacob by his wives and four sons by his wives’ maids. In effect these four were sons of Jacob’s concubines. This group pronounced curses from Mount Ebal.
Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim are adjacent to each other, and yet they are entirely different. Mount Gerizim grows crops, has villages and springs of water. Mount Ebal is barren, has no villages and no springs. They are a geologic picture of blessings and curses.
Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal, the mount of curses. Again, a picture of curses. If the Children of Israel were obedient, there were blessings. If they were disobedient, there was the need of sacrifice for sin on the altar on the mount of curses.
The altar of Joshua was found on Mount Ebal in the 1980s. Recently, a very small piece of lead measuring about one inch by one inch was found near the altar on Mount Ebal. On it was Hebrew writing which is thought to be the oldest example of Hebrew ever found. Tiny letters were inscribed on the lead, just as described in the Book of Job. (Job 19:23-26)
The ancient town of Shechem, now known as Nablus, is at the foot of the two mountains. Shechem is where Joshua stood (Joshua 24:1) when he made his famous statement, “choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)
When he made that statement, Joshua was standing between the mount of blessing, Mount Gerizim, and the mount of curses, Mount Ebal. How could he have made it any more clear? Joshua was telling them to make a choice at the very location of the blessings and curses proclaimed by representatives of the twelve tribes, or families, of Jacob.
The two mountains are a geologic picture of blessings and curses, of prosperity and barrenness. They are a reminder that the Lord always gives us a choice, just as He gave Adam and Eve a choice in the Garden of Eden. I am so thankful that I chose to serve the Lord. Praise Him forever if you have done likewise!