Stretching over 65 square kilometers and lying between
altitudes of 350 and 1700 meters (About 50 square
miles, between 1,100 and 5,500 feet altitude, approx.),
this is a region of the heights of Kesrouan that can
be reached through Zouk, Mayrouba and Amez, through
Jounieh, Ghazir and Nahar el-Zanab, or through the
valley of Nahr Ibrahim and Yahshoush. The limit on
the north side is marked by the Nahr Ibrahim Valley
and Yahshoush and on the other sides by Almshati,
Wata el-Jaouz, Meyrouba, Nahr el-Hadid, Shahtoul and
From where does the name Moses, Moussa in Arabic,
come? I have the impression that this name links Mount
Moussa to a number of other mountains around the planet,
first of all with Sinaï, where the Tables of
the Law were given. One may at least be sure that
Moses never went to Jabal Moussa, having gazed on
the Promised Land from Mount Nebo in what is now Jordan.
In any case, the mountain is worthy of a great name.
I have several times wandered over a large area of
this territory. The old dwellings to be seen there
are a sure sign of how greatly the peasants were attached
to their land. The terraces dug out of the slopes
show the courage, determination and tireless ardor
of those having lived there, a people working the
land and pasturing flocks of goats. There is much
space available for growing crops and much good grazing
ground for the goats.
There is also beauty of a great many different kinds,
with rocks of strange appearance that stand as if
they wished to accompany us, breathing and living.
The flora is most varied, with oaks, pines, olive
trees, junipers, conifers, cypresses, gall oaks, and
apple and pear trees growing wild. With the winding
pathways and the clumps of trees by the rocks, one
might well believe oneself in Paradise. Of smaller
plants, the variety is bewildering. The fauna can
be a cause for surprise, with hyenas, wild boar, wolves,
squirrels and porcupines, not to mention endless kinds
There are many places bearing marks of their past
history; there are Roman stairways, inscriptions with
the name of Emperor Hadrian, wells for water, churches,
hamlets and a Cross for the celebration of the Feast
of the Holy Cross on September 14th.
Once upon a time, all Lebanon was like Jabal Moussa,
but urban construction and modern life have reduced
so many areas to desert. Now Jabal Moussa is a region
ideal for ecological tourism, and is a Nature Reserve
protected by the Ministry of the Environment. An Association
bears its name and ensures its protection, drawing
up a project to be worked out over several years.
It is to be remembered also that the site has been
classed as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. Much has
been done by the Association to develop ecotourism
and rural crafts, with for example a modern kitchen
which is to employ thirty-seven women on conserving
locally produced foodstuffs.
Joseph Matar - Translation from the French:
Kenneth J. Mortimer