Day one dawned on Wednesday, 12/29, overcast and cool. We left for Petra in the morning and journeyed about 2 1/2 hours from Amman, Jordan’s capitol city, to one of the 7 wonders of the world. It is thought by many biblical scholars that these gigantic rock formations were the result of Noah’s flood. Whatever the cause, their placement is perfect for those people who came later and thought it would be an easy place to live and defend. It is the ruin of an ancient city literally carved out of rock. Petra, appropriately translated “rock,” is in a part of the holy land originally settled by the Edomites, descendants of Esau.
One interesting historical biblical note: When Herod Antipas adulterously married his brother’s wife, their union outraged religious leaders. This relationship was condemned by John the Baptist which got him arrested, put into prison and subsequently beheaded. What isn’t generally known is that Herod Antipas had originally married the daughter of Aretas IV, Nabataean king. Petra was part of the Nabataean empire and so when she knew that her husband, Herod, had found a new love interest to take her place she was wise enough to know that this was meant nothing but bad news for her. She fled home to Petra to escape what she believed to be her own murder.
The Crusaders took over control of Petra in the twelfth century but by 1189 it was all but abandoned. It disappeared from minds and maps and literally disappeared from human knowledge until August 22, 1812 when a young Swiss explorer became the first known westerner since the Crusades to set eyes on Petra.
Petra, meaning rock, is literally walls of the tallest rock formations you have ever seen. They are a geologists dream made up of a number of different mineral formations. This is definitely one time when pictures speak better than words. I’ve attached some shots to help you get the picture.
On a personal note, Petra was a victory for Cheryl Lamb-Wagoner and I. We were prevented from visiting during our first visit; we were determined to take full advantage during the second time.
The journey up to the High Place of Sacrifice was the most serious climb I have ever undertaken. It occupies the crest of the mountain which was leveled by Nabataean chisels and dedicated to worship and sacrifice to pagan gods. It is an exceedingly rocky, rugged hike at about a 60 degree angle-6 miles total–certainly not for the faint of heart! Along the way you had to watch out for the camels, horses and carts that were busy offering rides to people who wanted to experience it that way.
No words of wisdom tonight; both brain and body are exhausted. More pics and description tomorrow, God willing.
Psalm 31:2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.