In Search of the Pharaoh's Daughter - XV

Moses's View of the Promised Land from Mount Nebo, Jordan (LEO Design)


Today proved to be an unexpectedly touching day.  We visited Mount Nebo, in Biblical Moab (now modern day Jordan), the site where God lead Moses to view the Promised Land.  As the biblical account tells us, Moses was allowed to see the land with his own eyes, however, God informed Moses that he would not make it there himself.  He was to die at Mount Nebo and would be buried there.  Shown above, the view Moses might have witnessed some 3,500 years ago.  Jerusalem and Jericho are hidden in the haze.  Today there is a Franciscan Church over the site presumed to be his grave (though there are other competing claims, as well).  Being able to visit such a site—any historical place—puts the story into much clearer context.  It brings the story to life.  Such was my profound sense as I took-in the view and relished the cooling breeze at the cliffside.


Detail view of the Byzantine Mosaic Floor in the Church of Mt. Nebo, Jordan - I (LEO Design)


In the early Fourth Century, Saint Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, visited many sites in the Holy Land, seeking to determine and document the precise locations of certain biblical events.  After Helen had succeeded in converting her son to Christianity (which meant all of the Roman Empire was to follow suit), she set-out,  authority unquestioned, checkbook in-hand.  Helen was a real power player and she was going to sort things out.

Mount Nebo is one of the sites Helen visited.  Using biblical references, any written documentation she could find and the oral traditions of the locals, Helen documented the spot and ordered a temple to be built in commemoration of Moses's interaction with God. Today's Franciscan Monastery is called the Memorial Church of Moses.

Today's church is built above the ruins of two earlier churches.  Excavations have revealed incredible Byzantine mosaic floors from the Fourth Century.  We can thank Saint Helen for them.

Today in Jordan, the Queen Noor Foundation supports efforts to keep traditional Jordanian crafts alive.  Mosaic workshops and schools ensure that mosaic-making will not perish.  It also provides work for people who might otherwise have difficulty seeking jobs.

Shown above, the lower left corner of the Fourth Century church's mosaic floor.


Detail view of the Byzantine Mosaic Floor in the Church of Mt. Nebo, Jordan - II (LEO Design)


The lower right corner of the mosaic.


Detail view of the Byzantine Mosaic Floor in the Church of Mt. Nebo, Jordan - III (LEO Design)


And the upper right corner.


Rolling Stone from a Byzantine Monastery near Mount Nebo, Jordan (LEO Design)


Shown above, a rolling stone door, once used at the nearby Byzantine monastery of Kufer Abu Badd.


The Medieval Crusader Castle of Mont Real or Shobak Castle, Jordan (LEO Design)


After leaving Mount Nebo, we visited a Medieval castle built in the Twelfth Century by European Crusaders.  It was originally called Mont Real, ("Royal Mountain") now Shobak Castle.  A timeless flock of sheep pass through the valley while very modern wind turbines spin on the horizon.


Omar and Wadi Pose for a Snap Before the Medieval Castle (LEO Design)


As we viewed the castle, little Omar and his donkey, Wadi, trotted over to say hello.  He did not ask for money and consented to a photo.  Of course, I gave him a little something for his troubles.



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