Sunday, January 18, 2015

Day 3 - Breakfast at Hotel -> Check out -> Petra

Rev Quek's notes:

The ancient city of Petra was virtually unknown to archaeologists, with only the Bible to give account of its existence. Petra is the Greek word for Rock. It is in the heart of Mount Seir in the land of Edom (Esau’s descendants). It is located in the valley surrounded on all sides by very steep rocky cliff and few narrow gorges leading inside. In Judges 1:36, 2 Chronicles 25:12 and Obadiah 3, the (Sela) is translated to “rock”.

The 3m wide and 1.2km long and 91-182m high narrow gorge is the entrance to Petra. It is called the AsSiq. There is dam at the entrance to prevent flooding.

The Al-Khazneh (Treasury) was intended to be a tomb of the Nabatean king but it was later used as a temple. It was named treasury according to a legend that bandits hid their loot in a stone urn on the 2nd level. The Bedouins were said to have shot the stone urns to spill out the stolen treasure. Another legend was that it functioned as a treasury of the Egyptian Pharaoh at the time of Moses.

In Judg 1:36 its association with the Ascent of Akrabbim shuts us up to a position toward the southwestern end of the Dead Sea. Probably in that case it does not denote a city, but some prominent crag.

King Amaziah after his victory in the Valley of Salt sought to re-subjugate the Edomites. The latter fought for independence from Jehoram, 50 years before Amaziah’s reign. With 400000 men (according to historian Josephus) he slew 10000 Edomites, threw them down the “rock” (2 Chron 25:12). He renamed Sela to Joktheel (God’s reward of victory).

In Obadiah 3, God’s pronounced His judgement on the Edomites who found false security in their natural fortress, “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? God judged their idolatry. They worship the sun and offered human sacrifices. Two obelisks may be seen which were probably sun pillars of fertility. In Isa 16:1, the prophet Isaiah sang a funeral hymn to Moabites who flee to Sela for refuge. They were to send a tribute lamb (cf 2Kings 3:4) to the king of Judah. About 400 BC, the Edomites were driven out by the Arabian Nabataeans. These people made Petra their capital and controlled the most important trade routes between the East and the West. Caravans passing through this territory had to pay taxes to the Nabataeans, who in this way became very wealthy enabling them to build beautiful palaces, temples, theatres, and tombs hewn out of solid sandstone rock in their capital city. They also constructed a wall to fortify the city, although Petra was almost naturally defended by the surrounding sandstone mountains. Building an empire in the arid desert also forced the Nabateans to excel in water conservation.

Petra was invaded by the Seleucids but managed to counter attack. However, Hellenistic culture influenced them greatly. The Romans invaded twice and was successful to take control a part of the Petra. In later centuries, caravans followed other routes between the Orient and Europe. Traffic through Nabataean territory dried up, Petra became deserted and forgotten, and for centuries it was a legendary city. All the references in Scripture were considered by higher critics to be figments of the imagination. They claimed the non-existence of Petra as proof for the unreliability of Scripture. In the year 1812, the Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt, disguised as an Arabian sheik, discovered the lost city. When he published his report, it seemed almost unbelievable that such a picturesque place could have existed just 161km south of Jerusalem without being known. Petra is now a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the new 7 wonders of the world.

After breakfast at Hotel (camera was lost so no pictures) and check out, we walked to Petra
Panoramic view taken from Hotel. Petra entrance on the left.

Briefing by guide after the entrance

Shops at the vistor centre

Walked the most today for the entire trip. It is about a 2km walk to the Treasury. Thank God for sunny day else it will be very muddy with all the sand.
Immediately after the main entrance is an area known as Bab as-Sīq, gateway to the Siq. The Edomities dug a lot of holes in the sandstone to be used as tombs.

Many ride a donkey for sale

One of the many shops leading to the entrance of the siq

A little shop selling frankincense and myrrh

Ornaments sold in the shop

Start of the "gorge like" 3m wide siq (Arabic: السيق‎, transliterated al-Sīq, transcribed as-Sīq, literally 'the Shaft') - the main entrance to the ancient city of Petra

Finally, the treasury, Al Khazneh

Full view of the treasury. Petra (The Rose-Red City) is a spectacular ancient city nestled away in mountains south of the Dead Sea and made famous for having many stone structures carved into the rock. Ain Mousa (Spring of Moses) is the area’s principal water source and also thought to be the place where Moses struck a rock to extract water as mentioned in Numbers 20. Petra was also used in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” as the hiding site of the Holy Grail. Here, when you enter the entrance to Petra, you will take either a horse or donkey to transport you down the valley leading to Petra where you will see all the magnificent structures. This area is also the ancient land of the Edomites, the descendants of Esau (Genesis 36:9).

Group photo

Ride the camels with very colour coat for a fee

Enroute to more caves beyond the treasury


More stone structures carved out of the rock.

Special coloured rock

Ride donkey for a fee

The King's tomb

Enroute to more structures

Back to Siq

Back to the shop ...

Enroute to entrance.

Shops at Petra Visitor Centre