I embarked on a trip to the Holy Land as I left Egypt’s Suez Canal and headed across the Sinai Peninsula towards Nuweiba. The valley leading to Nuweiba is said to have 123 bends, almost no straight road. The road is connected with peaks and mountains, and there are thousands of walls. I wonder if Moses led the Hebrews who lived as slaves in Egypt to go out of Egypt. Through this curved, narrow, steep passage. When I approached Nuweiba and walked out of the valley, my eyes suddenly opened up. I soon came to the Gulf of Aqaba, which is connected to the Red Sea, and saw the cruise ship “Prince” that was about to take me into Jordan.
The Gulf of Aqaba is located at the northern end of the Red Sea. The water is deep and the waves are flat, and the sea water is as crystal clear and deep as sapphire. Due to the influence of the warm equatorial current and the sea breeze, even in winter, the average water temperature there is above 15 ℃, which is suitable for various water sports. It takes about an hour by boat from Nuweiba to the Jordanian port of Aqaba, and there are several daily cruises to and from the waters. The port of Aqaba is exactly the “Ezion Geber” recorded in the “Old Testament Kings”, and King Solomon, the greatest king in the history of Israel, sent messengers from here to bring back the gold. By the mid-16th century, the Egyptian sultan El Gurray built the Aqaba fortress here to protect those pilgrims who traveled to Mecca or returned from Egypt and Syria. Today, it is the junction of Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and it is also Jordan’s only outlet to the sea. Nearly a century ago, Lawrence of Arabia led an insurgent army that won this precious port for Jordan after a hard fight. In addition, this narrow Gulf of Aqaba was the fuse of the famous “Six-Day War” in 1967. At that time, Israel used Egypt’s blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba as an excuse to pass through Egypt at an ultra-low altitude with the all-out air force. The air defense network destroyed 80% of Egypt’s military aircraft, and swept the coalition forces from south to north in Egypt, Jordan and Syria in just six days, capturing the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
More than 40 years later, the Gulf of Aqaba has long since regained its calm and tranquility. It is not known whether Moses led the Hebrews to cross the Red Sea, and whether it was from here that he set foot on the land of Jordan. Anyway, since their arrival, Jordan has left countless miracles, many of which are famous stories recorded in the Old and New Testaments and spread all over the world. After I arrived in Aqaba, I rushed to the Wadi Rum Valley, more than 80 kilometers away, overnight, and spent an unforgettable night in a tent pitched in the desert.
Wadi Rum is the most spectacular desert in Jordan, and it is also called “Moon Valley” because it is as desolate, quiet and silent as the surface of the moon. The desert here is not as flat, wide and endless as the Sahara Desert, and there are many mountains around it. The sand dunes are undulating like golden waves, making those mountains look like small islands or reefs jutting out of the vast sea. What is amazing is that the mountains formed by the stones, due to the long-term weathering, show various strange shapes and sculptural postures. They are like huge statues standing in the sand sea. To the imaginative people, those boulders look like ancient monsters or animals, with lifelike scales and bones, as if they will move at any time and run through the desert.
However, the desert isn’t really as silent as it might seem at first glance. If you look closely, people will see some sparse weeds, shrubs, and even small forests on the sand. As for the camps made up of tents in the desert, they are obviously prepared for people who travel here. It is said that the Royal Jordanian Society for the Conservation of Nature has established a sanctuary here for the African antelope, and occasionally people will find the footprints of foxes and eagles in the sand. It is not difficult to imagine that after entering spring, as long as there is a light rain, the sand dunes will appear green. Jordan’s national flower, black iris, anemone, red poppy, etc. will bloom in the desert for the last time, attracting tourists, painters, photographers, etc. to come here from all over the world.
What excites me the most is the desert surfing in an off-road vehicle, which is a romantic act full of challenges and adventurous spirit. Don’t underestimate this vast desert. If you are not careful, those surfing cars will sink into the sand, and the waves formed by the yellow sand seem to engulf the boats and cars. However, driving those four-wheel-drive vehicles with strong off-road performance in the sand sea is indeed like driving a speedboat on the crest of the waves. The bumps and the yellow sand splash can bring strong excitement and pleasure. Today, Wadi Rum has also become a paradise for desert surfers. Under the guidance of local guides, many drivers like me can fully enjoy the joy of desert driving here.
This eternal desert still retains its original shape thousands of years ago. As early as more than 2,000 years ago, it was a holy place for the Nabatans. Perhaps, the Hebrews led by Moses also lived under the scorching sun. walk through this desert. Later, it became a nomadic site for Bedouin people, and their descendants still live here today, riding camels through the desert from time to time, becoming the scenery in the lens of tourists or photographers. And the most fascinating thing is that this is where TE Lawrence fought against the Ottoman Turks during the First World War. In 1961, the famous director David Lean filmed the film “Lawrence of Arabia”, which won seven Oscars in the Wadi Rum desert, reproducing the legendary story of the British Army intelligence officer who wore an Arabian robe.
Interestingly, during the filming of the film, the then King Hussein of Jordan lent the Arab Legion to assist the filming crew, and the king often visited the set and liked a British female secretary in the crew. In 1962, when the film was released, the secretary became Hussein’s second wife; in 1999, their eldest son became the current king of Jordan.
After leaving Wadi Rum, I drove through Mount Ram, which is more than 1,700 meters above sea level. It just snowed here a few days ago, and when I walked through here, there was still a lot of snow on the mountain. This road roughly follows the mountains in the west of Jordan, extending from the southern end to the north. In ancient times, it was originally “the road that the kings passed through”, and it was generally called “the king’s road”. Many place names that have appeared in the “Bible”, Right next to this “King Road”.
The Moses Spring Village near the ancient city of Petra is said to be the “Bepior” mentioned in the Bible. According to the Book of Deuteronomy, Jehovah himself buried Moses “in the valley opposite Beth-peor, but to this day no one knows his tomb.” According to legend, after Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, 300,000 people were drifting in the wilderness and there was no water to drink. Moses raised his staff and struck the rock, and the spring water flowed from the solid rock for the Israelites to drink. This “Holy Spring” is also said to be the source of water for the ancient city of Petra. When the Roman army besieged Petra, they found that the only source of water in the city was the Moses Spring outside the city. The inhabitants of the natural fortress city were forced to surrender. Nowadays, when people come to visit this “Moses Spring”, local tour guides often invite everyone to take a sip of the “Moses Spring” spring water, but they can only drink one sip, and drinking too much is ineffective, because this spring water can make people 10 years younger. age. Whether it really has such a magical effect, maybe only God knows.
It is not far from Moses Spring to Mount Nebo, where Moses died. On the way, people will pass the holy city of Madaba, which is mentioned many times in the Bible. In the Old and New Testament times, it has been a battleground for the Israelites, the Ammonites, and the Moabites. During the Byzantine era, it became a religious center. To this day, this small town is still the holy city of the Greek Orthodox Church, which is unimaginable in a country where more than 92% of the residents believe in Islam. About 10 kilometers away from Madaba, there is a hill with an altitude of 870 meters. It is one of the most awe-inspiring holy places in Jordan, Mount Nebo. According to verse 34 of the Bible, Moses, the founder of Judaism, spent his last days here and died here.
The prophet Moses is one of the six ambassadors of Islam, and is second only to God and Jesus in Christianity. In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Lord God said to Moses, “Go up to Mount Nebo, which is in the midst of Mount Abarim, and face Jericho in the land of Moab, and see the land of Canaan, which I will give to Israel for an inheritance. You will die on the mountain you climbed and go to your ancestors.” Whether this Mount Nebo is the Mount Nebo mentioned in the Bible is still debated, and many scholars and archaeologists are still in Jericho The opposite side is trying to find a more convincing “Mount Nebo”. Despite this, but now on Mount Nebo, there is still a white stone tablet with the words “In memory of Moses, the Holy Land of Christ” written in Arabic and English.
Another monument related to Moses is the steel coiled snake pole standing beside the west low wall. This is the work of Italian Florentine artist Gianni Fantoni in 1984. It is seven or eight meters high and symbolizes Moses. Shepherd’s staff in hand. According to the Book of Numbers, Moses held up the shepherd’s rod and performed miracles when he came out of Egypt to rescue many Hebrews. Next to this steel coiled snake rod, there is also a sign with the azimuth and the number of kilometers, and the straight-line distance from Mount Nebo to the major holy cities in the Middle East is engraved on it. Standing here and looking westward, you will have a panoramic view of the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley. It is said that when the weather is clear, you can also see the spires of the Holy City Jerusalem Church in the West Bank and the historic cities of Bethlehem and Jericho. At night, you can enjoy the lights of the city of Jerusalem. After the “Six-Day War” in 1967, this piece of Canaan fulfilled Jehovah’s prophecy and became a land occupied by the Israelites, so that today’s Jordanians, like Moses who was dying at the age of 120, could only “far away” to look, but not to enter.”
In fact, the remains of when Moses died are now gone. After the 2nd century AD, with the gradual spread of Christianity, many Christian believers came to Mount Nebo and built a Christian church, where they practiced, preached and practiced medicine. Today, the church on Mount Nebo was built in the early 4th century AD. It originally had tall stone pillars and walls, but now only the base of the walls is more than one person high and the floor is covered with Byzantine mosaic paintings. These floors are inlaid with hunting , animal husbandry and various bird and beast patterns, the many peacock patterns spelled out on the lobby floor are truly breathtaking. On the side of the church, next to the cross pattern spelled out with small stones, there is a picture of the Pope of Rome paying homage here, which makes people sigh the charm of this holy place.
After leaving Mount Nebo, I drove half an hour to the Dead Sea, which is 392 meters below sea level and is the lowest point on the surface. Located between Jordan, Palestine and Israel, it is a world-famous inland saltwater lake. The entire Dead Sea is about 82 kilometers long from north to north, 18 kilometers wide from east to west, with an average depth of 146 meters, a maximum depth of 395 meters, and an area of 1,050 square kilometers.
The water in the Dead Sea contains many minerals, such as magnesium, sodium, potassium, bromine, etc. Due to the continuous evaporation of water, the minerals are precipitated, and over the years it has become the saltiest salt water in the world. The salt content of these salty waters is extremely high, 5 to 8 times higher than that of ordinary seawater, and ordinary organisms cannot survive here. However, this is the most popular place for novice swimmers, because the specific gravity of the lake water in the Dead Sea is 1.172-1.227, while the specific gravity of the human body is only 1.021-1.097. The seawater containing a lot of salt can easily float people. In this way, people are Lying on the water at will, it will not sink, and even people who can’t swim at all will not drown. When I walked to the Dead Sea, a girl who traveled from Lebanon to the Dead Sea also jumped into the Dead Sea with great interest, floated on the sea happily, and enjoyed the buoyancy of the Dead Sea. She happily told me: “I live in Beirut and come here to play for a few days and relax. The view of the Dead Sea is very good and it is very suitable for rest and recuperation.”
There is another reason why the Dead Sea can be a peculiar tourist destination, and that is because the sea water here is rich in minerals and can filter the stimulation of the sun’s rays. Therefore, bathing the body with Dead Sea water and mud has wonderful medical effects. It is said that people knew how to use them to heal diseases in the time of ancient Shiloh the Great. While chatting with me, the enthusiastic Lebanese girl showed me the benefits of applying Dead Sea mud to my body. She said: “These sea mud are very good and useful for skin and health. You see, it is very comfortable to apply on the body and face like me. I will give you these sea mud, and you can take it back.” The
climate of the Dead Sea region It is extremely hot, the annual average temperature is around 25°C, and the evaporation of water is very large. In summer, an average of 1 inch of water evaporates per hour, which causes the surface of the Dead Sea to always be filled with a layer of soft mist. Looking from afar, the surface of the Dead Sea is as calm as a mirror, silent and without a trace of ripples, and the mountains and rocks on both sides are clearly reflected in the water, casting a touch of tender red on the sea. Across the coast is Israel, and the dividing line between Jordan and Israel is in the middle of the Dead Sea. I wonder if the prophet Moses thought of taking a dip in the Dead Sea when he climbed Mount Nebo. Later, when I interviewed Chinese Ambassador to Jordan Gong Xiaosheng, he summed up the significance of the road to the Holy Land in western Jordan very incisively. He said: “Jordan has rich tourism resources, and the unique ones are real monuments, which are recorded in the Bible, not made up, and of great significance in the history of religious development. Not long ago, a friend who had traveled around the world came to visit. After arriving in Jordan, he felt very touched. He believed that if a tourist route from Jordan to Jerusalem could be opened, it would not only be a general travel, but a kind of civilization.”
Traveling to the Holy Land in Jordan requires not only passion and courage, but also a sense of local In-depth understanding of culture, religion, history.