Tabor and Hermon shall Rejoice in Thy Name

August 18, 2015
By Kassa Nigus 
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ every year on Nehasie 13 (August 19). The feast is observed in remembrance of the revelation of Christ’s Divine glory before the Apostles Peter, James, and John on Mount Tabor.

Biblical Story

The event of the Transfiguration is recorded in three of the four Gospels: Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36. Jesus took the Apostles Peter, James, and John with Him to Mount Tabor and transfigured Himself before them. His face shone like the sun, and His garments became glistening white. Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ, talking to Him. Peter declared how good it was for them to be there and expressed his desire to build three tents for Christ, Moses and Elijah. 

In the Old Testament, the presence of light and cloud often signified the Divine presence (Ex.24:15-17). The bright radiance and shining of the face is also a characteristic of those closest to God. Such was the case of Moses who spoke to God face to face. (Ex.34:29-35)  

Likewise, on Mt.Tabor the cloud signified the Divine presence. Despite the fact that there are different mountains in Israel, Christ chose Tabor to be the place where He revealed His divine glory. St David had prophesied about the mount saying, “Tabor and Heron shall rejoice in thy name.” (Psalms 89:12)  According to the Church’s teachings, Tabor also represents God’s kingdom.  

 Symbolism of Moses and Elijah in the transfiguration

As the ten foolish and wise virgins (Matt. 25:1), symbolized all the wise and foolish human beings, the Lord gave us His Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah, as a symbol of the transfiguration which the Lord will grant to all human beings in eternity.

Elijah represents the virgins (of either sex), and Moses represents the married. Rather Moses married more than once. He married Zipporah the daughter of the priest of Midian (Ex.2:19-22). He also married an Ethiopian woman (Num. 12:1), who was a symbol of the acceptance of the Gentiles.

 Moses represented those who were dead. And Elijah represented the living who have not yet died. Elijah represents those who have lived a life of ascetics in the wilderness, as he was himself on the mountain of Carmel; and Moses represents those who have lived in the world with their families in a social life. One of them represents the life of monks, and the other represents the ministry and the guidance of crowds.
                   To Him is the Glory forever!

Source: —-1986:177- 178.  These Truths We Hold the Holy Orthodox Church Her Life and Teachings. Compiled and edited by a monk of St. Tikhon’s monastery.
Pope Shenouda III, 1998. The Transfiguration and some meditations upon the feast of the Transfiguration.