Looking out from the top of Mount Nebo in Jordan, on a clear day you can see all the way to the Dead Sea and even farther to Jericho, Bethlehem, the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem. It is here that Moses surveyed the promised land for his first and last time. Few know the vast number of Biblical events which took place in Jordan and Mount Nebo is no different.
After traveling through the Saini for 40 years, Moses and the tribes of Israel come to the base of Mount Nebo, the highest point in ancient Moab. Here Moses re-articulates the Lord’s commands (Numbers 36:13). After defeating a king named Og and Sihon (of Beshan and Heshbon), Moses pleads with God to enter the promised land, but because of his disobedience, the Lord tells Moses he can only see, not enter the land.
Pilgrims flock to mountain monastery
The monastery you see today on Mount Nebo is built on the foundations of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine basilica uncovered by archaeologists in 1930. By the 4th century, (during the reign of Constantine) pilgrims were already traveling to Mount Nebo. A small monastic community was formed and this ancient Byzantine monastery was built in the 6th century, where the monks worshipped, housed relics, and hosted visitors.
Although not much of the ancient Basillica’s structure remains, archeologists have uncovered remains of stunning Byzantine mosaics which now dot the new chapel’s floor and walls. The largest mosaic stretches an outstanding 10 feet by 29 feet!
In 1993, Mount Nebo was purchased by Italian Franciscan monks and to this day remains an active monastery, and is open to visitors.
A key installation on Mount Nebo is the Serpentine Cross, a symbolic combination of the bronze serpent Moses lifted high in the wilderness to heal the Israelites. This powerful symbol foreshadowed Jesus’ crucifixion and victory over all sickness and ultimately, death itself.