Tourist Photo Post: The Bible Version


A View of Israel, Syria and Jordan

One of the truly amazing things about this country is the overwhelming presence of the place: wherever  you go, there is something important to see. We were on the way to Gadara, and we began to pass a lot more security checkpoints than usual. After the last checkpoint, we pulled over onto the side of the road (somewhat surreptitiously in my opinion) and got out. This is what we saw.

I’m a little unclear on the borders, but here is what I know: the V-shaped piece of land in the center of the photo is Syria. To the left in the background (I believe the road divides it) is Israel, and in the foreground is Jordan. The river you are looking at is the Yarmouk River, and important source of water for the Jordanians.

Directions from the Top of Mount Nebo

Speaking of presence, we went to Mount Nebo the other day. Mount Nebo is one of the holiest sites in Jordan because it is believed that Moses, who was forbidden to enter the Promised Land, went to the top of Mount Nebo—it would have been quite a hike at an elevation of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet)— looked down upon the Promised Land and died. Muslims believe that Moses was carried down into the valley and buried there, while Christians and Jews believe that he was buried somewhere at the top of the mountain. From the top of Mount Nebo you can look down into Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.

View from the Top of Mount Nebo

Now, I’m not a religious person, but I felt the power of the place: a site that is holy to literally billions of people, living and dead. People have worshipped there for centuries, criss-crossing the mountain to commune with their history, their prophets and their God. Talk about presence of place.

At the top of mountain is a church they believe was built in the fourth century CE. The church was undergoing renovation so we weren’t able to look at it. The following photo shows a floor mosaic—a mural made from tesserae, small squares of colorful stone—dating to the sixth century CE. It is one of the pieces currently undergoing restoration.

Floor Mosaic from the Church at Mount Nebo
The Guys on the Top of Mount Nebo:
From Top Left is Joe, Ahmed, Nate, Mo’ad (below Nate) Ma’in, Rico and Jaffer
The Ladies on the Top of Mount Nebo:
Clockwise from Left is Maggie, Me (the tall one), Kenten, Dr. Muna,
Dr. Heidi, Carmen, Ornwipa, Siham, Ban and Rima

And here we have Maggie and Ahmed trying to roll the Abu Badd, a fortified door from a Byzantine Monastery nearby.

The Abu Badd: My Bet is on Maggie, our Resident Rugby Player