Today, we drove to Petra, and visited some amazing sites on the way south from Amman including Mt. Nebo and Madaba. We began by driving for an hour until we came to Mt. Nebo. Nebo means “prophet” in Aramaic. Mt. Nebo is where Moses and the Israelites who were escaping from Egypt saw the promised land. Also, it is said that this is where Moses died at age 120. On Mt. Nebo, there is a monument where Moses is said to be buried. Although, nobody thinks that Moses is actually buried there, because there is no evidence and if he was, there would be way too many people trying to see his tomb. Still, nobody knows where Moses is buried. Mt. Nebo looks over the Dead Sea, Jericho and the Jordan River Valley.
The Torah (Judaism), The Old Testament (Christian) and 65% of the Koran (Islam) talks about Moses and his journey with the Israelites. From our vantage point, we should’ve been able to see Israel and the Dead Sea, but we had Saudi Arabian sandstorms blocking our view, but we could just barely see the Dead Sea and Jericho in Israel. In the Dead Sea, there is 32% salinity, and the ocean is only 4%.
In the Dead Sea, you can just lay back and float. There are also no animals in the Dead Sea because there is too much salt. Now, the whole site at Mt. Nebo is managed by Franciscan monks (we saw one walking around) and they are building a big new church on the site to honor Moses and the migration of the Israelites to the promised land. We got back into the car and headed for Petra.
We stopped at Madaba for lunch and to visit the St. George Chuch to view the mosaic from 567, just after Justinian’s reign as emperor. The mosaic floor from the 6th century AD, was a map of all of the middle east, from the Nile delta, to the Sinai Peninsula, all across Jordan and Israel with a highlight in the middle for Jerusalem. Many of the parts were missing, because a while ago, people could just walk in and play on temples and steal bits and parts of monuments. In 794 AD, the ceiling fell and broke a portion of the mosaic. The mosaic was discovered in 1884. The mosaic was built using 2.3 million small squares.
We drove for three hours until we came to our hotel. We got our bags out and relaxed at the hotel, until we had to leave for Petra. Tonight, we were going to see the “Treasury” by candlelight. Petra is one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. We walked across the street where the main gate to get into Petra was. Petra was built about 2000 years ago by the Nabatean kingdom. We walked down a road until we came to a ticket gate. We presented our tickets and then walked onto a long windy road that was completely lit by candles.
While we walked, our legs were whipped with sand and rocks, and we were blinded by sand and rocks being flung into our eyes from a sandstorm whipping up the canyons. We still walked on with silence like everyone else in front and back. Then, after a while of walking outside, we came to the canyon. We walked out of the open and into the canyon. The candles on either side cast eerie shadows on the rock wall looming 50 yards above us. We walked through many twists and turns until we could see just a sliver of the Treasury.
The monument was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my entire life, but if that wasn’t beautiful enough, hundreds of candles under the Treasury lit the entire monument with a beautiful gleaming light. Our awe and joy was short lived, an even worse wind whipped sand and pebbles at our legs, and throwing sand into our eyes. We ran through the last bit of the cavern, and at last we were at Petra. The entire monument was carved into the wall and had the light of a hundred candles shining upon it. We sat in silence and marveled at the beautiful sight. After a few minutes, a man came out and began playing an instrument that looked and sounded like a violin. Soon, after that another man came out playing a flute. We listened until the music ended and we headed out. We left before anyone else did, so we were able to walk back by ourselves in the quiet of the night in the canyons. Our night at Petra was beautiful.