Today we travel south toward the famous city of Petra. Along our way we will make several interesting stops. Our first stop will be to the Citadel, the acropolis or fortress of ancient Amman. The site covers about 40 acres and is where Ammonites could find seclusion and protection here. In the time of Kind David it was know as the Rabbah. This is the fortress where David sent Uriah the Hittite to his death (1 Sam. 11). We will visit a small archaeological museum on the site that has many interesting findings.
Our next stop will be to the city of Madaba. Once a Moabite border city (mentioned in Numbers 21:30 and Joshua 13:9), Madaba is well known for the remains of a famous mosaic map called the Madaba Map. The map dates to the 6th-century and contains the earliest extant representation of Jerusalem, labeled the "Holy City". The map has been a major key in developing scholarly knowledge about the physical layout of Jerusalem after its destruction and rebuilding in 70 AD.
After lunch, we will make two more stops on our way to Petra. The first will be to the Herodian Fortress of Machaerus. Machaerus is one of the desert fortress palaces occupied by Herod the Great. It is also the place where Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, imprisoned and executed John the Baptist--after Herodias' daughter Salome danced and demanded John's head on a plater.
From here we travel to Mount Nebo, a 3,300 foot high mountain located 6 mi NW of Madaba in Jordan, and opposite the northern end of the Dead Sea. According to ancient tradition, this is the mountain from which Moses saw the Promised Land before he died. Because of its connection to Moses, Mt. Nebo has long been an important place of Christian pilgrimage.
Dinner and Overnight at the Petra Panorama Hotel.
Following breakfast, we depart for our tour of Petra--the ancient capital city of the Nabataeans built sometime around the 6th century BC. Petra, which means "rock" in Greek, is a fitting name for this city surrounded on all sides by rocky cliffs and magnificent tomb, sanctuaries, and dwelling places carved out of solid rock. Our journey to this spectacular city, known to most students in connection to the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, begins via a mile-long narrow gorge that emerges dramatically in front of a building called the Treasury. The source of Petra's vast wealth was her control of the ancient trade routes connecting the Roman Empire with the East. Unfortunately, when these trade routes shifted, Petra was deserted and forgotten for centuries. It was only rediscovered in 1812.
Lunch is included in the tour today. Dinner and overnight at the Dead Sea Holiday Inn.
On our way to the Israeli border, this morning we will stop at Bethany Beyond the Jordan--the place were John the Baptist baptized Jesus and others.(John 1:28). Experience what it would have been like to have responded to the call of John by being baptized in the Jordan. Note: This Bethany should not be confused with Bethany in Jerusalem, where Mary Magdalene lived and Lazarus was raised from the dead.
From here we will head down to the Dead Sea for an early lunch. The Dead Sea is located some 1,385 feet below sea level, making it the lowest place on earth. Because of its high salt content no life exists in it. It is said that the waters and muds of the Dead Sea are helpful in treating skin diseases. Whether this works or not will be left up to you to decide for yourself as we stop for a swim--or rather a float--in the Dead Sea.
After crossing the Israeli border, we head to the famous city of Jericho. One of the oldest cities in the world, Jericho dates back to the time that Joshua and the Israelites entered the Promised Land after the Exodus. We will see the remains of the ancient site tied to the story of the fall of Jericho and also the remains of city that existed in the days of Jesus. It is in this city that Jesus healed blind Bartimaeus and ate supper with Zacchaeus (John 10).
We will also take the cable car to the top of the Mount of Temptation, where, according to tradition, Jesus was tempted by the devil.
Dinner and overnight at Ron Beach Hotel