Saying goodbye to Wadi Rum (and Bertie), we headed south to the border crossing at Aqaba/Eliat and then on to the ancient city of Jericho.
I’ve crossed international borders many times in my travels. This one, going from Jordan into Israel, was one of the most involved.
There was a very precise series of steps, investigations, scans of luggage, and movement involved, ending with a short interrogation by a border agent.
My questioning was pretty mild. Some of my traveling companions endured a bit more as the agent sought to determine if they were being truthful about their national origins.
Still, it wasn’t terribly intrusive and, in a way, it was comforting to know that security was a high priority. This is something that traveling Americans shouldn’t dismiss.
Aqaba itself was pretty interesting, what little we actually saw. It appeared, to me at least, as more modern and cleaner than Amman.
As you can see from the photo below, they have discovered the joys of McDonalds and a knockoff called Buffalo Wings and Rings. Seeing these after a morning camel ride was a bit of a culture shock.
Once in Israel, we traveled north through the Judean Desert toward Jerusalem.
Entering the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, we passed close to the famous ancient fortress of Masada and Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
We also had our first view of the Dead Sea as we paralleled the Jordan/Israel border. Here are a few shots for the gist of things.
We reached Jericho in time for lunch and were taken to a local Christian-owned restaurant. Lunching al fresco on its open patio, we had a nice view of the city, such as it is.
We learned pretty quickly that there’s a big economic difference between Palestinian and Israeli areas. Jericho has the potential to be a very beautiful and prosperous city. But it isn’t. I don’t have many photos of the town itself, but here are a few.
Jericho is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. According to Wikipedia, archeologists have uncovered more than 20 successive settlements. That’s mind boggling to consider. It is one of the most excavated places on earth because of this.
The Old Testament site of Tell es-Sultan is nearby and is the city Joshua destroyed. In Jesus’ day a new center had been constructed on the present site of the city.
Jericho is also famous for its sycamore trees, noted in Luke 19:
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. Now a man named Zacchaeus was there; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to get a look at Jesus, but being a short man he could not see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, because Jesus was going to pass that way”
I don’t have much in the way of pictures of Jericho, but here’s a few minutes of “out the bus window” video of our drive south from Wadi Rum, through Aqaba, and a smidgeon of Jericho. All this just to give you a hint of what that area is like.
MOUNT OF TEMPTATIONS
Just northwest of Jericho, and towering over the city, is the Mount of Temptations. This is the place that is generally regarded as where Jesus resisted the temptations of the devil for 40 days. This from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 4:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written:
‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written:
‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written:
‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Clinging to the face of the mountain is a large Greek Orthodox monastery. We didn’t get to the top of the mountain or to the monastery, but it was still pretty inspiring to put a place to this important part of Scripture.
Next stop: Jerusalem!!