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Excursion to Jordan: day forth (May 12, 2004)

Today we continue our visit to Mount Nebo, but specifically to the Memorial of Moses (Ras Siyagha) and to the Town of Nebo (Khirbet el-Mukhayyet).




Mount Nebo, Ras Siyagha

View from Ras Siyagha on the Plains of Moab. And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar (Dt 34:1-3).

View from the retaining wall of the Byzantine Monastery of Mount Nebo on the west side.
To the right is the Ayoun Musa valley ("the Springs of Moses," better seen in the following photo). The spring were made famous by the pilgrim Egeria: Between the church and the cells was a plentiful spring which flowed fro the rock, beautifully clear and witn an excellent taste... This is the water which holy Moses gave the children of Israel in this desert (Egeria's Travel ,11).

Panoramic view on the North side towards the Ascent from the Plains of Moab to Esbus. In the foreground, two Roman milestones from the same road (displaced). Pilgrims like Egeria or Petrus the Iberer were following this route which starts from Livias, in the plain. At the sixth mile, they did a turn southwards to the Spring of Moses and Mount Nebo.

A symbolic landmark on the top of Mount Nebo: the snake which Moses put up in the desert (Num 21,4-9) makes us think of the cross upon which Jesus itself was lifted (Gv 3,14).

Atrium, narthex, and façade of the Memorial of Moses as it is today.


Celebration of the Holy Mass in the basilica of the Memorial of Moses.

Plan of the basilica on Mount Nebo.
1. Early sanctuary (4th cent. A.D.)
2. Cella trichora (5th cent. A.D.)
3. North Baptistry (531 A.D.)
4. South Baptistry (597 d.C.)
5. Chapel of the Theotokos (7th cent. A.D.)
6. Narthex and Basilica (6th-7th cent. A.D.)

Interior of the Memorial of Moses. Archaeological and restoration works were carried out by the Franciscans S. Saller and B. Bagatti (in the thirties), V. Corbo (in the sixties), and M. Piccirillo (up to the present).

A large, braided cross, drafted in black on a white background. This mosaic decoration was laid on the floor of a side hall in the first Memorial of Moses (5th cent. A.D.)

The South Baptistry, built when Martyrius was abbot of the monastery and Sergius was bishop of Madaba in the year 597 A.D.

The diakonikon-baptistry found in excavations under the Norh Hall. The hunting and pastoral scenes in the mosaic carpet are the work of Elias, Soelus, and Kaiomus done in the years 530-1 A.D.

Right: A column marking the VI milestone mentioned in sources from the Byzantine Period: Nabau, in Hebrew Nebo, a mountain beyond the Jordan facing Jericho in the land of Moab, where Moses died; up to today it is shown at the VIth Mile of the city of Esbus from the east (Eusebius of Caesarea, Onomasticon 136,7.11-13).


Left: Detail of the mosaic floor of el-Keniseh in the wadi el-Afrit.

Khirbet el-Mukhayyet, the City of Nebo

View of the hill of Khirbet el-Mukhayyet, identified with the City of Nebo of Moabite Period (defensive walls and tombs of the Iron Age II), Roman Period (Herodian tombs), and Byzantine Period (the churches).

The Hill of Mukhayyet
1: Church of Sts. Lot and Procopius
2: Church of Amos and Casiseos
with the annexed Chapel of the Priest John
3: Church of St. George
4: Towards the 'Ain Jedidah Valley

Left: A young boy poses willingly with a newly born baby-goat.
Below: The mosaic decorating the sanctuary of the Church of Sts. Lot and Procopius.


Zooming towards south on the acropolis of Mukhayyet. The ruins of the Church of St. George are visible on the outline of the mount.

Copy of the Mesha Stele displayed on the Visitor's Center at Mount Nebo. From the 14th to the 18th line, the conquest of the City of Nebo is narrated:

Kemosh said to me, "Go, take Nebo from Israel." And I went in the night and fought against it from the daybreak until midday, and I took it and I killed the whole population: seven thousand male subjects and aliens, and female subjects, aliens, and servant girls. For I had put it to the ban for Ashtar Kemosh. And from there I took the vessels of Yahweh, and I presented them before the face of Kemosh.

Click on the photos to enlarge.


External Links

Mount Nebo (AtlasTour)

The memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo (FAI)

Khirbet el-Mukhayyat - The Town of Nebo (FAI)

The Vision of Moses (by Irfan Shahid - Madaba Map Website)

The Mesha Stele


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