Christian Sites & Tours

OLD TESTAMENT - NEW TESTAMENT - The cradle of civilization ...

Land of Spirituality

Why is this region (The Near & Middle East) called the Cradle of Civilization? Because this is where is all began ! Its where Christianity, Judaism and Islam were founded. Where Empires like the Babylonians, Assyrians, Sumerians rose and fell. Where the alphabet was invented sometime during the second millennium B.C. (estimated between 1850 and 1700 B.C.), Where the old Testament and Holy Quran were orated in the tradition of the time - and later written down.

The Old Testament Kingdoms in Jordan

The Iron Age (c. 1200-332 BCE) saw the development and consolidation of three new kingdoms in Jordan: Edom in the south, Moab in central Jordan, and Ammon in the northern mountain areas.

The Moabites are best known from the Mesha Stele, a ninth-century BCE stone which extols the deeds of the Moabite King Mesha. He won a victory over the occupying Israelites, who were still clearly a major thorn in the side of the Moabites. The Kingdom of Moab covered the center of Jordan, and its capital cities were at Karak and Dhiban. The Kingdom of Ammon around 950 BCE displayed rising prosperity based on agriculture and trade, as well as an organized defense policy with a series of fortresses. Its capital was in the Citadel of present-day Amman. (See http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/his_testament.html)


Baptism Site - Bethany beyond the Jordan

The Baptism site - also known as Bethany beyond the Jordan is the officially recognized baptism site of John the Baptist... and where Jesus was baptized. (called Al-Maghtas in Arabic) It was officially confirmed in 2000 during a visit by the Pope. The area is now called the Baptism Archaeological Park and covers several kilometres.

The baptismal site of Bethany Beyond the Jordan (John 1:28) is located at the North end of the Dead Sea, near the southern end of the Jordan River, across from Jericho and about 6 kilometres south of the Allenby Bridge or King Hussein Bridge. From the capital Amman - it takes about 1 hour.

Prior to the 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel the area was a Military Zone and was a 'minefield'. Since then excavations have been undertaken by archaeologists and church officials and the whole area cleaned and transformed.

An area adjacent to the baptismal site of Bethany Beyond the Jordan has many other biblical associations.-
It is believed, that in an area near here Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan River to the Promised Land (Joshua 3:14-16).
Elijah — a prophet who is often associated with John the Baptist — also crossed the Jordan River on dry ground in this area, and was then taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:8-11).

In the New Testament, Jesus withdrew to Bethany Beyond the Jordan after being threatened with stoning in Jerusalem (John 10:31-40).

In the area known as Wadi Kharrar, fresh springs emerge from the barren landscape. They create an oasis reeds, grasses and shrubbery dotted with Palms and tamerisk. From here the stream flows eastward to the Jordan River, its a 2-kilometre route surrounded by thick vegetation. Wadi al Kharrar was also the centre of an active monastic life. Here hermits lived in caves carved into the soft limestone and gathered weekly for common services.

In 2015 Bethany Beyond the Jordan was designated a World Heritage site.

Mount Nebo

Mount Nebo is located approximately 15 minutes from Madaba and stands majestically 820 metres high, and looks down 1220 metres on to the Dead Sea with views across the West Bank of the Jordan and Palestine. This is where Moses looked down on the Promised Land ..... On a clear day you can see the hills of Jerusalem and Jericho.

It is acknowledged as the final resting place of Moses (although the exact location of his tomb is unknown) -Deuteronomy 34:5-6 recounts - Moses died there in the Land of Moab. It is an important pilgrimage site for all three mono-theistic religions.

A 3rd century church is being excavated and renovated - and there is a small museum with the recently salvaged byzantine mosaics.

Madaba

Madaba - (30km south of Amman) was an important town in the early centuries of the Christian era. It is located on the Old King's Highway trade route - which is the oldest continuously used road in history !

The remains of the oldest known map of the Holy Land, A 6th century Byzantine masterpiece - painstakingly assembled from more than a million pieces of coloured stone, lie on the floor of St Georges church .
The map originally covered an area of more than 15.5 metres by 5.5 metres - sadly less than a third remains.
The Madaba mosaic map is orientated to the east, with the Jordan River flowing from left to right. Unlike modern maps which face North.

It was discovered in 1884 - but its uniqueness was only appreciated in 1896 after the Church of St George had been built over it.

Madaba is known as 'The city of mosaics'.

Machaerus

On the eastern side of the Dead Sea and 53 kilometres southwest of Amman is the hilltop fortress of Machaerus. This is the place where John the Baptist - was imprisoned and beheaded.

When Herod the Great died in 4 BC, Machaerus passed to his son Herod Antipas, who ruled Galilee and Perea (an area on the eastern side of the Jordan River) until AD 39.

John the Baptist criticised Herod Antipas, the governor of Galilee and Perea, for unlawfully marrying his half-brother's wife, Herodias — thereby earning her enmity. According to the historian Josephus, John's execution took place at Machaerus.

Herod Antipas had married Phasaelis, daughter of King Aretas of Nabatea, the kingdom whose capital was Petra. While visiting Rome in AD 26 he stayed with his half-brother Herod Philip I and fell in love with Philip's wife Herodias.

When Phasaelis learnt that Antipas intended to divorce her and marry Herodias, she obtained permission to visit Machaerus and from there fled to her father in Nabatea. Antipas's rejection of Phasaelis added a personal note to existing disputes with King Aretas over the boundary of Perea and Nabatea. In AD 36 Aretas attacked Antipas and completely destroyed his army.

Some time before the war with Aretas, Jesus was arrested in Jerusalem and brought before Pontius Pilate. When Pilate learnt that Jesus came from Galilee, he sent him to Herod Antipas, who was also in Jerusalem at the time.

Herod Antipas was accused of conspiring against the Roman emperor Caligula, who exiled him to Gaul in AD 39.

Petra

In biblical times Petra was a city of the Edomites, whose ancestor Esau settled there after he was tricked out of his rightful inheritance by his twin brother Jacob. Scholars believe Petra was then called Sela. One tradition suggests the Three Wise Men buying their gold, myrrh and frankincense at Petra on their way to Bethlehem.

In AD 106 Petra was annexed by the Roman empire. Rome's diversion of the caravan trade and some devastating earthquakes in subsequent centuries put the city into decline. From the 13th century onwards Petra was abandoned until it was rediscovered by Burkhardt in 1812.

Jabal Haroun is the mountain mentioned in the bible, where Aaron (Haroun in Arabic) brother of Moses died and was buried. Near by is the place where Moses struck the rock and brought forth water it is called (Wadi Musa in Arabic), the valley of Moses.
 
Many buildings in Petra were converted into Christian churches.

Jerash

One of the 10 cities of the Decapolis. This league of Greek cities, which came under Roman control in the 1st century BC, is mentioned in the New Testament.

The city became Christian in the Byzantine period, when its 25,000 inhabitants had more than 20 churches and bishops who took part in early Church councils. Ruins of most of the churches can still be seen.

Jerash had more than 20 churches, all built between AD 368 and AD 611, with some even sharing walls. Their abundance may have been due to a practice of the Byzantine Church — still the custom in some Eastern churches — to permit only one eucharistic service at each altar every day.

Against an outer east wall is a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary, with an inscription mentioning Mary and the archangels Michael and Gabriel.

A series of devastating earthquakes resulted in the city being abandoned.

Um Ar Rassas ( Kastrom Mefa'a)

Most of this archaeological site, which started as a Roman military camp and grew to become a town from the 5th century, has not been excavated. It contains remains from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim periods (end of 3rd to 9th centuries AD) and a fortified Roman military camp.

The site also has 16 churches, some with well-preserved mosaic floors. Particularly noteworthy is the mosaic floor of the Church of Saint Stephen with its representation of towns in the region.

Two square towers are probably the only remains of the practice, well known in this part of the world, of the stylites (ascetic monks who spent time in isolation atop a column or tower). The lifestyle of the stylite monks is conveyed by a 14 meter high stone tower built in the centre of a courtyard adjoined by a small church (the Church of the Tower). A room at the top of the tower, accessible from a door on the south apparently reached by a removable ladder was the monk's living quarters.

The archaeology and inscriptions show evidence that monastic Christianity was tolerated and continued during the Islamic period of the 7th and 8th centuries and testify to the spread of monotheistic beliefs in the region.

Um Ar-Rasas is surrounded by, and dotted with, remains of ancient agricultural cultivation in an arid area.

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1093

Lot's Cave

Lot's cave is located at the south end of the Dead Sea - near to 2 famous biblical sites Sodom & Gomorrah which were 2 of the five cities of the plain mentioned in the Old Testament.

Lot was a patriarch in the biblical Book of Genesis chapters 11-14 and 19. Notable episodes in his life include his travels with his uncle Abram (Abraham), his flight from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, during which Lot's wife became a pillar of salt.

Born and raised in Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:28,31) in the region of Sumeria on the Euphrates River of lower Mesopotamia, roughly four thousand years ago.

Statue of Lot's Wife

Situated on a steep rock face over the south end of the Dead Sea highway is the statue of Lot's wife who was turned into a pillar of salt - after being told to flee Sodom with her family and not to look back..... She disobeyed and looked back and the rest is history! The cities of Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone

Umm Qais - Gadara

Umm Qais is located at 110 km north of Amman.and is where Jesus taught the people about the Kingdom of God and performed his miracles including the miracle of the Gadarene swine. The ancient Graeco Roman ruins of a church above a Roman-Byzantine tomb with five-aisled basilica was built to commemorate the spot where it is believed that Jesus performed His miracle that was mentioned in the Bible, where Jesus cast out the devil from two men into a herd of pigs.

Um Qais is a beautiful area which overlooks the Sea of Galilee and is only several kilometres away.

Aanjara - Church of the Lady of the Mountain

The cave IS mentioned in the Bible where Jesus passed through and rested with his mother Mary and his disciples during their missionaries. The cave was renovated and built as a church and now called the Lady of the Mountain shrine / Church. It is one of the five pilgrimage sites that have been designated by the Catholic Churches of the Middle East in Jordan the other four sites are Bethany beyond the Jordan, Mount Nebo, Tell Mar Elias near Ajloun and Machaerus.
It is located at Anjara, near Ajloun.
 
There are indeed many other byzantine ruins and holy sites too numerous to mention as most people don't have time even for the major sites in Jordan.