The Mount of Temptation is the Main Draw for Christian Pilgrims in Jericho, particularly the Orthodox Churches as there is the Orthodox Monastery of the Temptation Above. although archeologists have debated on the exact location of the Mount of Temptation where Jesus was tempted for 40 days and nights, the Orthodox Churches claimed that this is the exact location, where they have rebuilt it froma previous Byzantince Church. The summit of the mount, about 360 metres above sea level, offers a spectacular panoramic view of the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea and the mountains of Moab and Gilead. The Mount of Temptation is about 5 kilometers northwest of the West Bank city of Jericho. Access to the summit is by a 30-minute trek up a steep path passing through the cliffhanging monastery on the way or by a 5 minute cable car ride from Tel Jericho.
A Large part of the West Bank and Jericho Town is along the Judean Desert, which is a separate desert from the Negev Desert of Southern israel. this Desert starts from the mountains near Jerusalem and goes down up to the Dead Sea and starts from just after Beit Shan and up to the Southern Dead Sea, just after Qumran, where it then becomes the Negev Desert. The mountains around the Mount of Temptation is part of the Judean Desert.
Besides the Mount of Temptation, Christian Pilgrims make a whistle stop at the Center of Jericho Town, in front of a House sits a Large Sycamore tree which was purported to be the Tree where Zacchaeus, the Jewish Tax Collector went up to see Jesus and then repented. The house and the Sycamore tree is alleged to be 2,000 years old.
There are several stalls nearby which sells religous items, and secular souvenir Items to the Christian Pilgrims and Tourist.
according to wikipedia:
Zacchaeus (Greek: Ζακχαῖος, Zakchaios; Hebrew: זכי, which means pure and righteous one ), according to chapter 19 of the Gospel of Luke, was a superintendent of customs; a chief tax-gatherer (Latin: publicanus) at Jericho (Luke 19:1-10). Tax collectors were often corrupt, and hated by many of their fellow Jews, who saw them as traitors for working for the Roman Empire.
Because the lucrative production and export of balsam was centered in Jericho, his position would have carried both importance and wealth. In the account, he arrived before the crowd who were later to meet with Jesus, who was passing through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem. Described as a short man, Zacchaeus climbed up a sycamore fig tree so that he might be able to see Jesus. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up into the branches, addressed Zacchaeus by name, and told him to come down, for he intended to visit his house. The crowd was shocked that Jesus, a Jew, would sully himself by being a guest of a tax collector.
Moved by the audacity of Jesus' undeserved love and acceptance, Zacchaeus publicly repented acts of corruption and vowed to make restitution for them, and held a feast at his house.
After a multi day pilgrimage and tour of Northern Israel, we then proceeded to the west bank of Palestine to visit other Biblical Sites oin the West Bank and Jerusalem via the longest highway in Israel which is highway 90. Our first Stop in the west bank is the Town of Jericho, where the Biblical Mount of Temptation was allegedly located. Highway 90 is the longest highway in Israel stretching from Metula near the Lebanese Border, to Eliat, the border town to Egypt. Upon entering the west bank, there are several checkpoints in the highway as the west bank is controlled both by the Israelis and Palestinians.
according to wikipedia:
Route 90 is the longest Israeli road, at about 480 km, and stretches from Metula and the northern border with Lebanon, along the western side of the Sea of Galilee, through the Jordan River Valley, along the western bank of the Dead Sea (making it the world's lowest road), through the Arabah valley, and until Eilat and the southern border with Egypt on the Red Sea. The road passes through the West Bank near the city of Jericho, but does not enter areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
The section of route 90 passing through the Jordan Valley was dedicated as Derekh Gandi (Gandhi's Road) after the late Rehavam Zeevi, an assassinated Israeli Minister of Tourism, who was nicknamed after Mahatma Gandhi.
The section of Route 90 passing the Dead Sea is named Dead Sea Highway, and it is this location that is the lowest road in the world. It is along this stretch of road that Masada, Ein Gedi nature reserve, Ein Gedi Spa, Qumran Caves, and Ahava (company) are located.
The section of Route 90 passing through the Arabah is named Arava Highway.
Almost on top of Mount of Temptation, about 3 km northwest of Jericho, there's a Greek Orthodox monastery. The panoramic view of the Jordan Valley is great, and it's possible to take a cableway that passes over the ancient Jericho.
The Mount of Temptation is the site where Jesus spent forty days and forty nights fasting and meditating during the temptation of Satan, and the monastery was built in the 6th century over the cave where Christ was. The nearly 30 to 40 caves on the eastern slopes of the mountain have been inhabited by monks and hermits since the early days of Christianity.
The spring is one of the more visited Christian sites in Jericho, and recalls the Biblical passage on the prophets Elijah and Elisha (Kings, in the Old Testament). Elisha, according to 1st Kings, was Elijah 'successor' as a prophet (if such a term can be used in this context), selected when Elijah threw his mantle to him in a symbolic gesture.
The spring is accepted as the site of the water miracle performed by Elisha, when the population of Jericho complained there was not enough clean water in the city. Elisha then asked for a jar and some salt. He told the men to put salt in it. When this was done, the water were purified.
There is a spring on the spot, coming from the ground, and according to the guides it still provides a substantial amount of water of the city. Jar sculpture has been placed there to commemorate the events in the Bible.
Tell Es Sultan is, according to the archaeologists, the site of the Biblical city, and is one of the oldest cities on Earth at roughly 10,000 years. When one thinks that the spot has been pretty much constantly inhabited, it's even more impressive.
Jericho is also the most excavated site in the Holy Land, although the first attempts at the end of 19th century were unsuccessful. Subsequently, archaeological layers starting from the Epipaleolithic period of the Stone Age to pretty much the Bronze Age were found there.
Most famous sites:
- Neolithic Tower
- Bronze Age Revetment Walls
- Storejars of Grain
- Iron Age Israelite building
Tell Es Sultan also offers spectacular views over the modern city of Jericho, the Jordan River Valley and into Jordan (this on a clear, not-so-hazy day)
Byzantine-Christian Jericho was situated in and around the modern town. Several churches and monasteries have been discovered here, the most important of which is the Monastery of Temptation "Dair Quruntul". The mountain of temptation " Jabel Quruntul" rises about 350m west of Jericho overlooking the Jordan Valley. Here Jesus spent 40 days and nights fasting and meditating during the temptation of Satan. The thirty to forty caves on the eastern slopes of the mountain were inhabited by monks and hermits since the early days of Christianity. The path leading to the Greek monastery is very steep and difficult to climb, but a visit to the monastery certainly is worth the walk. Other than the monastery one can see the Roman fortress of Al Doq on the top of the mountain which was built to guard the valley. The word Quruntul derives from the Latin word. Quadraginta, meaning "forty" to indicate the forty days of the fast of Christ. The name given to the mountain by the crusaders in the 12th century. The present monastery was built in the 1895 replacing the earlier crusader Church of the 12th century date. Visiting hours are from 7am to 3pm and from 4pm to 5pm in summer and from 3pm to 4pm in winter.
Old jericho (Tell Al Sultan)
The most ancient city of Jericho is situated on a mount overlooking the oasis, 2km north west of the center of modern Jericho. Excavations by the late British archaeologist K. Kenyon uncovered settlements dating from 9000BC.Hard to believe !!! This period marks the transition from nomadic to settled agricultural life. The site has been cleared to bedrock and more than 23 layers of ancient civilizations that have built this impressive hill up to the present height have been uncovered. Many structures are visible here including the oldest known stairs in the world, the oldest wall, and the massive, round, defense tower dating from before 7000BC at the center of the site. Those finds make Jericho the first fortified city in history. The last layer of occupation at the site dates from the late Byzantine - early Islamic periods.
Jericho‘s contribution to human civilization is unique. This is particularly true given the city‘s role in the domestication of plants and animals and the invention of pottery. Those developments took place here some 1000 years before Mesopotamia and Egypt. The walls and tower of Jericho preceded the pyramids of Egypt by 4000 years.
Opposite the tell is the spring of Ain Al Sultan, its waters are abundant. Its output of 700 cubic meters an hour make it the most important of all springs of Jericho: Nue‘meh, Duyuk, Ojah, and Qelt. Ain Al Sultan was called by this name because the Babylonians put out the eyes of the ousted king of Jerusalem here. It is also called Elisha‘s well, after prophet Elisha who purified its waters by salt. The site is open daily from 8am to 5pm.
Also known as Khirbet el Mafjar. Hisham Palace is one of the main archeological sites in Jericho. Built in the 8th century during the Umayyad period as a hunting lodge or spring winder resort, it’s name is associated with the Umayyad caliph el –Hisham ibn Abd El Malek. The site is located some 2km north of Jericho. The uncovered excavation show the remains of the a magnificent winter palace that was destroyed by an earthquake in 747 AD shortly after construction. The site contains royal buildings, a mosque, water fountains and spectacular mosaic floors.
Less than two miles from Old Jericho is Caliph Hisham's Palace. The building dates to the 7th century during the Umayyad period of the Muslim Empire. It was apparently designed as a winter resort from the Caliph, but was destroyed by an earthquake before he had a chance to use it. Parts of the building were preserved and some of the artifacts were removed and are on display at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem.Salahadin troops attempted to restore the palace in the 12th century, but thereafter and down to the 1940‘s of this century, the ruins served as a quarry of cut stones for the people of Jericho. A small museum on the right of the entrance houses a collection of pottery found on the site. Visiting hours are from 8am to 5pm.
Half way between Tell Al Sultan and the Mount of Temptation on your right as you depart Tell Al Sultan are the sugar mills known as Tawahin Al Sukkar. Sugar cane production and processing was known in Palestine since the Umayyad period, the Crusaders expanded sugar production for export to Europe. For that purpose they built sophisticated sugar mills including those located in Jericho. The remains of the aqueduct which brought the water from Ain Duyuk are still visible today. The water provided the necessary energy for the mill and its pottery workshop. One can also see here the remains of the press and the factory. The site, even though extremely interesting, is not protected and is rarely visited.
Dead Sea is actually a lake. Located between Jordan, Israel and East Bank, it is the second saltiest body of water on Earth with salinity about 30%. It is 418 m below the sea level.
I remember a textbook with a picture of a woman laying over the Dead sea and reading a book. I saw it when I was in 6th grade, so a long time ago, and I never thought I would be able to try it... What I did not expect was that when you leave its water you should take a shower immediately, you can't stand all these minerals on your skin. It was strange because of all cosmetics with minerals and muds of Dead Sea I bought over the years. Anyway, Dead Sea is a unique experience, no doubt.
Abbot Gerassimos founded a monastery in form of Lavra in 455. Near it there was another convent, called Cane monastery, built by St. Helen in 326 on a place of a previous church, dating back to the times of Apostles. Todays monastery was built on the place of the Cane monastery.
St. Gerassimos is usually depicted together with a lion. St. Gerassimos healed a lion and then the lion lived for a long time in the convent. According to the legend, the monks had a donkey and used it to wear water from Jordan river. Once, while the donkey grazed on the field, the lion, who supposed to watch over the donkey, felt asleep. An Arabic merchant passed by and took the donkey. When the lion came back to the convent it looked guilty and St. Gerassimos and the monks assumed that the lion had eaten the donkey. The lion was punished to do the job of the missing donkey, e.g. to delivery water from the river. Once a soldier stayed at the monastery saw the lion and left 3 golden coins to the monks to buy another donkey. Some time later the merchant who took the donkey passed by near the monastery on the his way to Jerusalem. The donkey was with him and the his camels. The lion recognized the donkey, led it to the monks. When St. Gerassimos saw the donkey, he understood that the lion was innocent. The lion stayed at the convent for another 5 years. When St. Gerassimos died, the lion stayed did not leave his grave for a couple of days till and died starving there.
The people at the monastery were the most friendly and nice people I've met for the whole time I've spent in the Holy Land!
This is the one of the two places in the Holy Land I liked the most, the other one is Mar Sabas Monastery. The views of Judean Wilderness are amazing !!!
The monastery was originally built in the 5th century, but then destroyed by Persians. Nowadays building dates back to the end of 19th century and belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church.