I am drawn to visit Petra
after what I had glimpsed the ‘rose red city half as old as time’ in the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
which stars two of my favourite actors, Sean Connery and Harrison Ford. The
quote is from a poem from John William Burgon.
It seems no work of Man's creative
By labor wrought as wavering fancy
But from the rock as if by magic
Eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old
Where erst Athena held her rites
Not saintly-grey, like many a
That crowns the hill and
consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of
That first beheld them were not
The hues of youth upon a brow of
Which Man deemed old two thousand
Match me such marvel save in
A rose-red city half as old as
John William Burgon (1845)
does not disappoint. Even though now it is a city of the dead and a tourist
attraction, I can sense the rich history rising out of the heat, aridity and
dust. After getting a map from the Tourist Police, some of us decided we
have to move fast if we want to see most of the attractions of this ancient
site as we had only few hours. We made
our way through the Siq to Al-Khazaneh (Treasury) then through the Street of
Facades to the Roman ruins around the Temenos Gate. Then we climbed to the Urn
Tomb and Palace Tomb before making our way out through the Siq. We did not have
time to see Ad-Deir (Monastery) as it is too far away.
Petra which is about 262 km south of Amman lie within the rugged mountains of Edom. Aaron
died and was buried on one of these mountain ridges known as Mount Hor
(Num. 20: 23-29). Petra
was probably the land of the ancient Horites (Gen. 14:6). After Essau migrated
to this area, he and his descendents, the Edomites, drove out the Horites (Gen.
36: 20, 21, 29). Petra
is also called Sela (Isa. 16:1; Jer.49:49:16-17; Obad.3). King Amaziah of Judah conquered Edom, and presumably Sela as well
and renamed it Joktheel (2 Kings 14:7). The Nebateans (Ishmaelites) settled and
fortified it around 650 BCE. There is speculation that Petra
may be the place where the godly remnants will flee in the Tribulation after
the Abomination that causes Desolation is erected in the Jerusalem temple of the AntiChrist (Matt.
24:15-21; Rev. 12:14-17; Isa. 16:1-4).
The Nabateans remain in control as a vassal of Imperial Rome around
63 BCE to 106 CE. We did not know what the Apostle Paul had done to irritate
King Aretas IV, king of Petra,
but the king wanted to arrest him.
2 Cor. 11:32
32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest
me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in
the wall and slipped through his hands.
Standing in the heat of the desert surrounded by these man-made
monuments on natural mountain ridges, I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the
flow of history around me. Human empires rise and fall. Hopes of men and women,
both great and small, either fulfilled or dashed. In the midst of this, human
living goes on. Men and women get married, have children and then die. Another
generation arises to carry on. Places mentioned in the Bible are real, not some
fantasy dreamt of by some kings or politicians. Yet, behind these big and small
narratives, I sense the Hand of God. God is involved in shaping all these
little narratives into His grand narrative – the History for His beloved creatures. Jehovah Nissi “The Lord is my
Banner” which stresses that God is our rallying point and our means of victory;
the one who fights for His people (Ex. 17:15).
|Obelisk Tomb & Bab as-Siq|
|entrance to as-Siq|
|exit to Outer Siq with view of al-Kanazneh|
|Street of Facades|
|tombs on the Outer Siq|
|towards the Colonnaded Street|
|lower temenos of the Great Temple on the north part of the Colonnaded Street||,|
|stairs to the Urn Tomb|
|upper fascade of Urn Tomb|
|entrance the Urn Tomb|
|inside the Urn Tomb|
Labels: HolyLand, New Testament, Old Testament