Thursday, November 01 2018
This is Mt. Nebo
After touring Madaba, our journey will take us to a ridge that rises in Jordan approximately 2,330ft called “Mount Nebo.” In Numbers 20, the nation of Israel is contending with Moses and Aaron because they have no water. It would be ignoring the context not to also see that Moses and Aaron’s sister, Miriam, has recently died and been buried. Undoubtedly grieving, in combination with the complaining of the people, clearly leaves Moses irritated with their attitudes. Thus, he carries out an order from God to take “the rod” with his brother Aaron to speak to the rock before the eyewitness of the people, so that it would, “yield its water.” However, standing before the rock and the people, Moses makes 3 critical errors. Instead of speaking to the rock, he, 1) lets his anger take control of him and chastises the people; 2) takes partial credit (glory) for what is about to happen (“shall we bring forth water”); 3) and he struck the rock, not once, but twice to bring forth the water. This act cost Moses his entrance into the Promised Land.
However, in God’s grace, He does allow Moses to view the land of Canaan from a mountain of the Abarim, which was in the land of Moab opposite Jericho. It was called then, as it is today, Mt Nebo. This will also be where he will die. Scripture states that Moses was buried in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor (Deuteronomy 34:6). This would be in the valley called Wâdī Ąyun Mûsā. Scripture also states that no man knows his burial place “to this day.” Yet in typical custom not to disappoint, tourists and pilgrims that came to the area during the Byzantine era were pointed to a tomb declared to be Moses’ burial site. As demonstrated throughout the centuries, there is no shortage of traditions and legends for locations in the area concerning Moses and related events.
The contemporary location of Mt Nebo is with the headland called Râs es-Siâghah, which is 6 miles northwest of Madaba in East Jordan https://bibleatlas.org/full/nebo.htm . There are several springs at the foot of the northern slope that supply water to farming regions to the west and to the town of Madaba in the southeast. The springs are referred to as ‘Ąyun Mûsā, which means “the springs of Moses.” There is also a wadi to the west and a ruin on the north and the south (see, “This is Petra”) that holds his name as well.
The Byzantium monastery subsequently settled into the area and built a basilica that hosted a Presbytery, baptistery, chapel, and diakonikon baptistery (a central place where the priests could wash themselves and the holy articles, as well as a storage area for pertinent books and other objects precious to them). The ruins are in exceptionally good condition despite the Islamic invasions of the 7thC AD.
Archaeological excavations have borne out that the name of Nebo has been faithfully kept to the mountain and region before the 4thC AD. Eusebius’ Onomasticon (see, “This is Madaba”) demonstrates that the mountain was already known by the name long before the Byzantium inhabitation.