Via Maris

Its LocationThe Via Maris entered the Great Rift Valley from the east and continued south to the Sea of Galilee. It then turned southwest into the Valley of Jezreel and cut through the ridge of Mount Carmel to reach the coastal plain. After arriving at the coastal plain, the road continued along the coast towards Egypt.

Why It Was VitalThe rugged mountain ranges cutting through the middle of Israel made it incredibly difficult to travel east to west and transport goods. Civilizations such as Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria however, depended on trade to exchange and acquire necessary goods. Whoever controlled the road between these empires dominated international trade and had a tremendous influence on other cultures.

Strategic CitiesThree cities along the Via Maris were especially important because they stood at strategic points. Hazor guarded a narrow section of the road in the Rift Valley. Gezer stood where the road jogged inland to avoid swampy areas and also connected the Via Maris to an east-west road that led to Jericho. And Megiddo"the most important city of the ancient world" guarded the crucial mountain pass through Mount Carmel.

Why Israel Lost OutBecause they were so afraid of the Philistines and the Canaanites, the Israelites stayed mainly in the mountains or in the Shephelah (the foothills between the mountains and the coastal plain). The Israelites rarely controlled the key cities along the Via Maris, so they could not exert the degree of influence upon the world that God intended them to have.