On the main road leading from Jenin to Sebastia, a small ancient settlement called Khirbet Bal’ama (or Khirbet Belameh) has been identified by some scholars in the 19th and 20th century as the biblical city of Ibleam. According to the Old Testament, Ibleam was a city in the region of the Israelite tribe of Manasseh, however one of those cities, the Israelites were unable to capture (cf. Joshua 17:11).
Ibleam is also mentioned in an inscription at Karnak Temple in today’s Luxor, dating back to the 15th century BCE! The tiny city was of interest as far away as in Egypt, due to its strategic location along the main road from the Arraba Plain to Marj Ibn Amer (Jesreel Valley). However controlled the city was also, at least partially, in control of this important trade and travel route.
The city has been besieged numerous times, prompting their inhabitants to fortify it and to eventually dig an underground access tunnel from within the city enclosure to the nearby es-Senjil spring. This underground access, the Bal’ama Tunnel is partially excavated and opent to visitors. The short walk of about 15 min through the tunnel gives an idea how the city’s population managed to endure even longer sieges. From it upper exit, you will also have a nice view of the excavation site.
Unfortunately, the site is not open regularly, but needs prior arrangements to access the tunnel. Please get in touch with our team and we will be happy to arrange the visit for you!