What Is the Golan Heights?

The essential facts about the Golan Heights, including map, history, and biblical mentions with their significance.

Marie-Claire De Villiers
By Marie-Claire De Villiers
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published January 25, 2022.

The rugged plateau of the Golan Heights stretches south from the Anti-Lebanon Mountains and encompasses the borders of Syria and Israel. Israel currently occupies about two-thirds of the territory. The city of Golan lies roughly 40 miles from Damascus.

Importance of Golan Heights

The Golan Heights have a significant value as a strategic military area for Israel and is also vital to the country's water supplies. The higher parts of the plateau provide flow to rivers and springs. The history of the Golan Heights is one of struggle as the area was under Syrian rule for centuries but was seized by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967 (although the move was not recognized internationally). Since then, both countries occupy the area and continue to vie for control.

Golan Heights Boundaries

The Yarmuk River forms the southern boundary, the seasonal Wadi Al-Ruqqād (a north-south branch of the Yarmūk River) forms the eastern boundary, Mount Hermon fringes the north, and the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee border the west.

Map of the Golan Heights and Surrounding Regions

Size of Golan Heights

The plains include about 690 square miles of terrain, with an average altitude of 3,300 ft. The lowest point is along the Yarmouk River in the south, at around 1,300 ft above sea level, while the mighty Mount Hermon watches over the plateau from an elevation of 9,232 ft, providing the highest point.

Golan Heights in the Bible

Golan is the city of refuge referred to in the bible as Bashan. The half-tribe of Manasseh settled here, and it is mentioned in the following passages:

Deuteronomy 4:43: "The cities were these: Bezer in the wilderness plateau, for the Reubenites; Ramoth in Gilead, for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, for the Manassites".

1 Kings 4:13: Ben-Geber—in Ramoth Gilead (the settlements of Jair son of Manasseh in Gilead were his, as well as the region of Argob in Bashan and its sixty large walled cities with bronze gate bars).

Isaiah 2:13: and upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan.