Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mount Nebo - Jordan

Mount Nebo was a big disappointment for me. I've been on the name-sake mountain in Utah several times and it is spectacular. Nebo, Jordan, not so much. I envisioned something that stood out, perhaps a rounded top, but one with some elevation rise over its neighbors. Nebo didn't even look like the tallest peak in the vicinity as we were driving toward it. It is one of several bumps, this one 2,680 feet, along a ridge. The view is probably pretty good on a clear day, but it was smoggy. 
In Deuteronomy it says, “Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah [which is Hebrew meaning “summit” or “peak”], that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.”  (Deut. 34:1-6)
Looking out toward Jericho and Jerusalem. 
From below looking up at Mount Nebo. It is the bump in the top middle with the white object on it.
A closer view of the building on top of Mount Nebo.
A fourth century church was built on Mount Nebo to commemorate the place of Moses' death. It was enlarged in the fifth century and rebuilt in 597. The remains of the Byzantine church and monastery were discovered in 1933 and beautiful floor mosaics were found. A building was built over the mosaics, but it has been closed for renovation since 2007 and still is, as we found out. There is a tent which serves as a make-shift visitor's center which shows several mosaics. 
Building under renovation which is closed.
A serpentine cross sculpture, created by an Italian artist, was built near the building and symbolizes the bronze serpent created by Moses in the wilderness. Numbers 21:8-9, states: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” The brazen serpent is symbolic of Jesus as those who look to him will live. John 3:14 states, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up." 
Brass serpent sculpture. 
For a visit of Pope John Paul II to Mount Nebo in 2000, a sculpture known as the Monolith was created by Vincenzo Bianchi of Italy. The stone is a white limestone block more than 16 feet tall taken from a quarry in Hallabat, Jordan. The sculpture represents a large book placed on the mountain where Moses ended his life after viewing the Promised Land. It represents the Torah to the Jews, the New Testament to the Christians, the Koran to the Muslims, all of them people of the book, all who believe that Moses was a prophet. However, it also represents books on science, love, faith, the fruits of experience, sacrifice, tension, all synthesized together as the message for pilgrims of the Third Millennium in search of the Truth of Love which unites and binds. Thus it is the Book of Love and God is Love. The Latin inscription at the base reads, "Unus Deus Pater Omnium Super Omnes," which is from Ephesians 4:6, which in English is "One God and Father of all, who is above all." I loved this sculpture. It was my favorite part of Mount Nebo. 
Spine of the book. Picture from here
Side view. The right side profiles Moses' face.
Closer view of Moses' face.
Pages of the book. 
Individual books are shown: Mark, Virgil and others I don't understand.
Faces emerge from the pages.
More faces.


  1. This is one place about which we have different opinions. I was so struck by the wide panoramic view--so much there before Moses, just a few steps away, and yet he was not allowed to go any further. I found the vast vista very moving. I also loved both the serpent sculpture and the one you describe at the end of the post.

    1. I suppose Nebo suffered a little bit (a lotta bit) by comparison to Mount Sinai.

  2. I had more of Judy's experience--the feeling of wanting to just let the Israelites see if they just went a little further, were a little more faithful, they could have it all.