Like several traditional locations associated with Jesus, it is likely that Mount Tabor was not the actual site of the event with which it is most famously assocated—the Transfiguration—since Jesus and his disciples are described by the Gospels as being in Caesaria Philippi just before ascending the "high mountain," which would more likely be Mount Hermon. On the other hand, Mount Tabor was not far from Nazareth, and since Jesus is described as often retiring to a mountain to pray, it is more than likely that he indeed climbed its slopes and prayed there. Its distinctive outline must also have been a familiar site to him, as well as to all others living in the region in ancient times, as now.
Earlier in Jewish history, Tabor was the site of several battles, commanding as it did an important trade route linking such far off economic centers as Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia, not to mention internal commerce without Israel itself. The prophet Samuel sent the future King Saul to a great "tree of Tabor" to receive a gift of bread and wine from pilgrims on their way to Bethel, and the prophet Hosea later denounced the high place of Tabor as a "net," apparently referring to its function of "snaring" pilgrims who might otherwise offer their sacrifices at Jerusalem. Tabor was the later site of several battles in which patriotic Jews attempted unsuccessfully to hold out against their Roman oppressors. It was an important place of Christian pilgrimage during the Byzantine period and traded hands several times during the Crusades, when it again became a place of military as well as spiritual significance.
Tabor's traditional association with the Mount of Transfiguration, together with its past spiritual history, makes it a place of special power, where pilgrims often feel a connection with God, as well as a sense of sadness over the violence that such a holy place has witnessed.