From the top of the Mount Nebo, bought by the Franciscans in 1927 for 500 Jordanian Dinars, we could see all the land as far as Jerusalem & Bethany & Jericho. The sky was the purest azure blue, the air was warm & crisp, the sun bright & light.
There beneath us at the foot of the valley was the last place Moses smote his staff and the spring he brought forth still runs.
We are beginning to get some clues to piece together this Moses mystery. He was forty years missing in Sinai, eating and listening to the Lord. He raised a snake and layed it in the desert to kill all the other snakes (like Saint Patrick) and he said humans would do likewise. Then he came down the desert highway with his supporters, to the land of Moab.
He had already disobeyed the Lord several times. The Lord warned him not to smite his staff, but he did, several times – parting the sea for the escape from Egypt, once near Petra in the desert when the Israelites were thirsty and here at the foot of Mount Nebo. He was 120yrs old when he climbed Mount Nebo.
Deuteronomy 34 says : ”Then Moses went up from the lowlands of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, eastwards of Jericho. And the Lord showed him the whole land of Moab. There in the land of Moab, the servant of the Lord died, as the Lord had said. He was buried in a valley opposite Beth Peor; but to this day, no one knows his burial place.” So him dead and never reach that land.
These rolling stones were a defensive fortification in ancient times, later used as doorways by Byzantines – very good, but the auto-motor keeps going wrong and you have to call out the service company.
Welsh dragon slain in Holy Land
Nearby to the mount, there is the small town of Madaba with many Christian churches & chapels with ancient mosaics. Why so many Christians in one place. Maybe it was on an early route of Crusading – no information yet. (Readers please help). St George’s has a stunning coloured , detailed, multi-lingual, illustrated, mosaic map of the whole region dating from 550 AD, by a cleric called Salomon or Schlomo or Silmanius.
It has thumbnail pics of towns, villages, rivers, mountains, animals, fish etc. It shows all the details of places like Bethany where Jesus was baptised, Lot’s cave, Sinai desert where Moses was missing, river Jordan, the Euphrates and Jerusalem and Bethlehem and Jericho, Judea & Samaria, the Nile delta etc.
There is a fabulous mosaic of St George killing a green Welsh dragon, and lots of other exciting stories.
The desert goes on and on for hour upon hour, plastic bags and litter and rutted tarmac and bumpy concrete, level for miles as far as you can see and shabby with filling stations and drinks bars and neon sign cafes.
Pylons and power cables and an interminable water pipeline is being laid wherever you look. Lawrence would recognise the old place. Then suddenly some hills and the landscape shows steep wadi valleys and deep chasms and cliffs, and it goes down and down and spirals onwards and downwards .
Fallafels stuffed with mincemeat, little round inflated bread balls, slices of cheese on tomato. Fresh minty finely chopped salad dusted with Sumac. Blanched aubergine with olive oil & tiny tomato cubes. Lightly smoked mashed aubergine flesh with blackened grilled hot peppers.
Stopped in a motorway tourist gift supermarket with Lipton’s tea to drink – “everything less than eighty days old.” Tee shirts & pink & purple sequinned disco outfits for sale on Asda George clothes hangers. A most attentive and over-solicitous male attendant minds the Ladies loos and opens the WC cubicle door for all the ladies. Then present and ready with the hand-towels to wipe your hands afterwards.
The tourist site guides, consistently help Christiane & Rosemary to see the right features of any panorama, by pointing them physically in the necessary direction, adjusting their shoulders and elbows as required with unexpected and unsought physical pressures.
To ease our passage through security checks, Asmi greets the people on the gates of hotels & stopping places in the Jordanian fashion, with multiple affectionate kisses, but he doesn’t kiss me very much with assertions that he sees me as a father figure.