Biblical JORDAN: A Pilgrims’ Paradise

Tourism — By on July 25, 2013 at 4:26 am

No amount of  time  is enough  to explore a country  that sits on  the confluence of  the  three Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Jordan  is home to hundreds of biblical sites  telling stories of  the great prophets of  the past  from Abraham and Elijah  to Moses and Aaron  to Jesus Christ and other  leading biblical  figures  like  John  the Baptist and Paul. Wherever you go, you will be  rewarded with a profoundly deep and  satisfying experience.

Being in the business of writing for travel  trade,  on  destinations,  hotels  etc.,  it  comes with  a  few  sops  and  incentives. You get  to  travel. And you  travel on most thoughtfully designed  itineraries,  in  the  company of most  informed  tour guides,  accompanied  by tourism officials and government  representatives, hosted  in  the  finest  hotels; well  the  list  is  long…  All along I had discovered that these  services or attendance are necessary  when you are  traveling  to a foreign  land, to learn and be informed about  it in order to write about the destina- tion once back.  However,  Jordan  is  in  a  different  league. Any biblical site you visit in  Jordan  located  in  its  vibrant  cities,  picturesque  deserts,  hill  tops  and  valleys,  each  of  them  is  telling  engaging  accounts  of  biblical  days  when this country was walked by the likes  of Abraham, Moses  and  later  Jesus Christ himself who  roamed and  preached extensively  in  this country.   It is a place where biblical stories are  not just lost to antiquity but continue  to  live  eloquently  in  its  countless  well-preserved biblical sites  that dots  the country’s landscape, and tells its  own story preserved for posterity in  the pages of Holy Bible.

Part  of  the Holy Land,  Jordan  also boasts  of  a  landscape  that  is  as  extreme as  it  is beautiful, and more  so, a pilgrim’s delight. Few countries  can rival the diversity of experiences  that Jordan offers within such a small  geography! We bring you  information on some of  the many important biblical sites that  should  be  part  of  your  itineraries  when you are  in  Jordan…  Our Lady of  the Mountain Church:  According  to  Biblical  accounts,  Jesus Christ, his mother Mary and his disciples  while  passing  through  Ajnara made an overnight stay  in a  cave.  This  cave  has  long  been  regarded by Christian as a pilgrimage  site  and  has  now  been  commemo- rated  as  the  Our  Lady  of  the  Mountain  Church.  The  remains  of  cave have been subtly preserved into  a now contemporary Church.

The ancient city of Jerash

Easily the most important historical sites in Jordan along with Petra, this  Greco-Roman  city,  founded  around  4th  century  BC  but  still  magnifi- cently preserved, can easily rival the  ‘Ancient City of Ephesus’ in Turkey  and  is  indeed  one  of  the  most  spectacular  tourist  treasures  of Jordan. The still-existing remains of  the Christian  churches  of  Paul  and  Peter and others in the vicinity are of  significant interest and study. There  is  a  fountain  in  this  ancient  city  of  Jerash where citizens once annually  celebrated  Jesus’ miracle of  turning  water  into wine.

Bethany: The Baptism Site

According  to Luke 16:16,  John  the Baptist  prepared  the  way  for  the  arrival of the Messiah (Jesus Christ),  and John’s ministry itself marked the  beginning  of  the  preaching  of  ‘the  gospel of  the kingdom of God.’  It was  at  the Bethany,  located on  the East  bank  of  River  Jordan,  were  Jesus  Christ stayed with John the Baptish  for  three days and was baptized by   him at  the age 30, and  immediately after he launched his public ministry.  It is here that Jesus is first reported to  have prayed to God (Luke 3:21) and  also gather his  first disciples. St  George  Church  in  Madaba  –  Barely  an  hour’s  drive  from  the  Amman,  this  modern  day  Greek  Orthodox Church  in Madaba,  apart  from  being  a  place  of  worship,  is  home  to  a  priceless  6th  century  mosaic  map  of  Jerusalem  and  the  Holy  land  from  the  Byzantine  era.  The  largely  well-preserved  mosaic  map  on  the  church  floor,  made  of  about  2 million  tiles,  is  one  of  the most  fascinating  attractions  of  Madaba  and  shows  important  biblical  sites  from  the  6th  century.  The  map  is  regarded  as  highly authent ic  as  the  informat ion contained  within  it  has  even prompted  excavations  in  Jerusalem in  the  recent  times  and  has  been found  to be  true! Besides, Madaba  and  its  hinterland have  also  featured  in  the narratives related  to  Moses  and  the  Exodus, David’s  war  against  the  Moabites, Isaiah’s  oracle  against  Moab  and King  Mesha  of  Moab’s  rebellion against  Israel.

Mount Nebo

In the year 2000, the late Pope John Paul  II commemorated  the beginning  of  the  new  millennium  with  a  pilgrimage  to  the Holy Land, starting  his visit withjordan prayers  in  the basilica at  Mount  Nebo.  He  stood  on  the promontory  and  viewed  the  same scene  that  Moses  saw  more  than  3000 years ago.  Highly  revered  by  the  Christian,  Jews  and  Muslims  alike,  Mount  Nebo was the site where Moses was  ordered to climb by the God in order  to  look  over  the  Promised  Land  before dying. This was also the final  station in Moses’ historic flight from  Egypt  to  the Holy  land. Moses and  his  people  camped  at  a  valley  just  northeast  of Mount Nebo which  is  today known as Ayun Musa (Springs  of Moses).

Mukawir

Known  as Machaerus  in  the  earlier times, Mukawir is home to the castle  of Herod  the Great. It was here  in one of  the  caves  that  John  the  Baptist, who  had  baptized  Jesus  Christ  at  ‘Bethany  Beyond  the  Jordan’,  was  beheaded by Herod Antipas. It  is said  that  Herod  had  the  John  beheaded  because John had criticized him for  marrying Herodias  in violation of  the  law prescribed in the old Testament.  Herodias  was  earlier  the  wife  of  Herod’s brother Phillip and also his  niece

Umm Qais

An spectacular destination of Greco- Roman remains, Umm Qais, earlier  known  as  Gadara,  was  the  place  where  Jesus  Christ  taught  people  about  the  kingdom  of  God  and  performed his miracles. This was the  site  was  Jesus  miracle  of  the Gadarene swine. It was here that he encountered  a  demented  man  who  lived in the tombs near the entrance  of  the city. It  is said  that Jesus cast  the  bad spirit out of the man and into a  herd of pigs, which  then  ran down  the  hill  into  the  waters  of  the  Sea  of  Galilee and drowned.

Lot’s Cave

Biblical  narratives  point  that  the ancient  cities  of  Sodom  and  Gomorrah  were  destroyed  because  of  the arrogant and wicked ways of  their  inhabitants. It  is said  that as Lot,  his wife and  their  two daughters were  leaving  that  the  town while  it was  being  destroyed,  Lot’s  wife  dis- obeyed God’s command not to look  back and was turned into a pillar of  salt.  Lot  and  his  two  daughters  survived and fled into a cave near the  town of Zoar.

Jebel Haroun

Aaron or Haroun,  the elder brother o Moses, and a prophet himself, died  in Jordan  and  was  buried  in  Petra  a Mount  Hor  or  Jebel  Haroun  in Arabic.  Aaron  was  the  first  high priest of the Bible and was called by God  to  be  Moses’  prophet.  A Byzentine  Church,  and  later  an Islamic shrine of Aaron were built on the summit and attract pilgrims from all over  the world.

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