Over 2,000 runners participated this Passover in the first Bible Marathon, which started in Rosh Ha’ayin and ended with a special expo event among the antiquities and mosaics of ancient Shiloh.
The marathon runners reenacted the run of the “man of Benjamin” recounted in the Book of Samuel. At the finish line, the runners were given a warm welcome by musicians wearing biblical-style clothing. The winner of the marathon was Ariel Rosenfeld, age 41, a record holder in the ZONE3 group and an Ultra Marathon runner.
Coming in second place was Yosef Fish of Mevaseret Zion, and in third place, Zion Nagar of Ashkelon. Hundreds of IDF soldiers also participated in the race, in addition to the thousands who attended from across the country.
The runners followed the same route as the “man of Benjamin” – “And a man of Benjamin ran from the battle, and he came to Shiloh on that day.” This is one of the first runs documented in human history, a long time before the mythology of the Greek marathon. It is mentioned in the Bible at the beginning of the Book of Samuel.
At the end of the battle between the Israelites and the Philistines, the man of Benjamin ran from the battlefield in Even Ha’ezer, adjacent to Rosh Ha’ayin, all the way to the city of the Tabernacle, Shiloh. He broke the sad news to Eli the High Priest that Israel had lost the battle, Eli’s two sons had fallen and the Ark of the Covenant had been captured.
Today, thousands of years after that historic run, and following two thousand years of exile, the Jewish people have returned to their land and the run was commemorated once again.
In the words of Moshe Ronsky, manager of the Tourism Department of the Benjamin region: “This year, we inaugurated the tradition of marathons in the Benjamin region. This is the only marathon of its kind in Israel, and the many runners who participated passed by several historic sites and biblical landscapes on the route. We hope that the marathon will give more and more Israelis the opportunity to encounter these breathtaking views and the moving, historical stories of the Benjamin region. We hope to familiarize the public with the nature sites and tourist attractions of our region, which include wineries, hiking trails and tourist accommodations.”
Ronsky added, “The weather conditions were perfect for the runners, and after the heat wave we experienced yesterday throughout the country, today we enjoyed cool breezes.”