Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Mt Nebo - Moses' Lookout

As with wandering Jerusalem and other parts of this world there is no expectation that the sites you visit are the real thing. After all there are numerous ideas about where Jesus was born, crucified and even buried. But knowing you are wandering the same place and taking in similar views is enough to have an impact, far beyond what I expected when I fist visited this part of the world ten years ago.
Mt Nebo is a short drive out of Amman and is the place where Moses supposedly took a look at the Promised Land, though denied entry (he would feel at home in this part of the world still!!). Even if it is not the precise spot you certainly get a good idea of what he might have seen. I was struck by the short distances involved. From here you could just make out the Jordan River, Jericho and the blue hills lifting up to Jerusalem through the summer dust and haze. On a clear day Jerusalem is visible. It all must have seemed so much in his grasp as he looked across the plains in front of him.
And of course Joshua would have stood up here somewhere too, planning his strategy from these heights which dominate the plains. You get a good appreciation for why he came this way as well - pushing up along the sides of the lake would have presented the plains people with an easy way of defending themselves. Indeed, Jehicho is strategically placed not only on the highways but at the head of the west side of the Dead Sea, to better cover the approaches from the south. It makes a difference being able to see this ground first hand.
On top of the mountain is an excavated church, the destination for early pilgrims. It is carefully preserved, and covered from the elements and worth the visit if only from an historical perspective. What am I saying? That is the main perspective here is it not? It's a serene place. Well, was for a few minutes when the generator was turned off for smoko. A couple of workers, dressed like the Sith to stay out of the sun, were drilling into the rock to set up some steps for visitors, and the stillness of the place and the chatter of sparrows in the pines were all lost once you got out onto the top of the hill. In the background is a piece of symbolic sculpture - serpent and staff.

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