Mount Hermon is the highest, most majestic peak in the Levant. At 9,200 feet above sea level, it dominates the Golan Heights on the border between Israel and Syria, anchoring the southern end of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains. It has been considered sacred for most of human history. Mount Hermon was a holy site as far back as the Old Babylonian period—the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, nearly two millennia before Christ, and maybe even earlier. In the Old Babylonian version of the Gilgamesh epic, which dates to the eighteenth century BC (roughly the time of Jacob and Joseph), “Hermon and Lebanon” were called “the secret dwelling of the Anunnaki.” The Ninevite version of the poem, written about six hundred years later, describes the monster slain by Gilgamesh, Humbaba (or Huwawa), as the guardian of “the abode of the gods.” The Anunnaki were the seven chief gods of the Sumerian pantheon: Anu, the sky-god; Enlil, king of the gods; Enki, god of the earth; Ninhursag, mother goddess of the mountains; Inanna (Babylonian Ishtar), goddess of sex and war; Nanna (Sîn in Babylon), the moon-god; and Utu (Shamash), the sun-god. They are mentioned in texts found in what is today southeastern Iraq that date back to the twenty-seventh century BC. So, it’s possible that the more recent versions of the Gilgamesh story from Babylon and Nineveh remember more ancient traditions.The name “Hermon” appears to be based on a root word that means “taboo,” similar to the Hebrew word kherem, or “devoted to destruction.” The word is often translated into English as “under the ban.”