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Search for more Sabbath boundary markers

5 August 2011

BibleWalks’ exclusive discovery of the Sabbath boundary marking – a Roman period rock carving with Hebrew letters – was reported in our blog entry of July 6. The purpose of the marker is to mark the outer boundaries around the village. Dr. Motti Aviam visited the site, confirmed its authenticity, and published the finding on July 12. The news quickly created a buzz through hundreds of worldwide web sites, blogs and forums.



The marking on the rock

The purpose of the Sabbath boundary is to alert the residents on an exclusion zone, since walking on a Sabbath is forbidden by the Bible beyond a permissible range (2000 cubits) from the outskirts of the village. In order to prevent confusion, the boundaries of the area around the city or village are marked by poles, stones, or – as in modern times – by wire. The markers are located approximately 1km to each direction of the municipal area.

Since the Sabbath boundary applies to all directions around the villages, it makes sense that more markers were located around the villages at this radius. So why not look for them? The following maps can provide tips for locating the treasured markers.


We speculated that the marker in Timrat is related an ancient town, located approximately 1km to the south-east of the marker. This Jewish Roman town was called “Mahalul”, and flourished from the commercially strategic location during the Roman/Byzantine times (Mishna and Talmud). It is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud (Megila page 2 , 2 1:1, Hebrew): “Nahalal is Mahalul”, and listed among the walled cities from the period of Joshua. The distance from the Roman village to the Timrat Sabbath stone fits the exact range of the perimeter as defined by the Jewish tradition.
Read more on the site of Nahalal /Mahalul.

We urge our readers to go and try to locate additional Sabbath markers, although their existence is based only a logical hypothesis. These markers were probably located on the path from Mahalul to the main Roman roads from Legio to Sepphoris (north-south), from Shimron to Jaffa (west-east), or from Mahalul to Sepphoris (south-west to north-east).

The map below shows the location of the marker, and other possible locations of other markers in relation to the ruins of Roman Mahalul (The numbers 1-7 appear on the map, and are ordered counter-clockwise):
1. On the side of the ancient road from Shimron to Jaffa-of-the-Galilee (west-east)
2. Near the modern entrance to Migdal Haemek, where the ancient road passed through the valley towards Jaffa-of-the-Galilee
3. Near the entrance to a valley, on the curve of the road from the Industrial park of Ramat-Gabriel
4. On a path from Mahalul towards Jaffa-of-the-Galilee
5. Along the ridge west of Mahalul
6. Inside the valley, where the ancient road to Sepphoris passed
7. North of the village, above the valley



Possible marker locations around Mahalul


Another candidate for the town related to the marker is Simonia, located around the nearby Tell Shimron. This was another Jewish town during the Roman and Byzantine periods. It is also located about 1.5KM from the marker, on the south-west side.
Read more on the site of Simonia/Shimron.

The map below shows the location of the marker, and other possible locations of other markers in relation to the ruins of Roman Simonia:
1. On the side of the ancient road from Shimron to Jaffa-of-the-Galilee (west-east)
2. On the path from the valley up to the marker
3,4 – Along the paths from Simonia to the Roman road from Legio to Sepphoris



Possible marker locations around Simonia



The area around these sites are great hiking places. Why not add the thrill of exploration together with the joy of walking through the charming landscapes of the lower Galilee? If you do find a new marking on the rock, or any other interesting findings, please contact us.

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    3 Responses to “Search for more Sabbath boundary markers”

  1. BibleWalks Blogs » Blog Archives » Ancient Sabbath Marker found in Timrat Says:

    [...] Treasure hunt [...]

  2. Link Roundup: Heresy, Church History, and Rocks | City of Jericho Says:

    [...] BiblePlaces blog notes, in How to Discover Boundary Inscriptions, a group called BibleWalks that is looking for more Sabbath boundary markers in Galilee. These markers designated how far one could walk out of the city (about 2000 cubits) on [...]

  3. Shimron etymology | Goldplatinumsi Says:

    [...] BibleWalks Blogs » Blog Archives » Search for more Sabbath …Aug 5, 2011 … Archaeology · BibleWalks Website · Conservation · Etymology … On the side of the ancient road from Shimron to Jaffa-of-the-Galilee (west-east) … [...]