This 8 day biblical tour takes you through Jordan’s holiest sites, such as Bethany, Mount Nebo and Elijah’s Hill. Jordan is a land of both Exodus and Pilgrimage. There are several holy sites that every true religious traveler will visit in Jordan, such as Mount Nebo or Bethany beyond the Jordan Baptism site, but many do not realize just how many places here form a great part of the Biblical narrative.
For the traveler who is interested in seeing the many sites mentioned in the Bible, it is not only dusty, off the beaten track ruins to be visited, but even the popular sites for leisure travel have an ancient story to tell. You will also experience the UNESCO world heritage site of Petra and spend the night in a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum. Here’s an example for your next Biblical tour through Jordan:
Day 1. Welcome to your Biblical Tour of Jordan
You will begin with a city tour in the capital of Amman, home to the ancient Ammonites. Here you can see, at the Citadel’s archaeological museum, the famous Deir Alla inscription referencing Balaam (from Numbers 22-24). Check out the Roman theater and the modern souks. Then head to Iraq Al Amir, the scenic little village just outside Amman in Wadi Al Seer, where you will be at the Biblical site of Ramoth- Mizpeh (Joshua 13:26) which was occupied by the Israelite tribe of Gad.
Day 2. Exploring Gilead – Jerash and Ajloun
In Jerash (Biblical Gerasa), you can get a feel for a Roman Decapolis city in the time of Jesus. (See Matthew 4:24). Ajloun is also a beautiful area where you see the hills of Gilead mentioned in the Bible. There is a cave in Anjara which has long been a holy place for pilgrims and is home to the Church of Our Lady of the Mountain. If you decide to tour Qallat ar-Rabadh, Ajloun’s Islamic Castle, there is a mosaic here from a previous structure which depicts the feeding of the 5,000.
From here you hike along the ancient Abraham Path. With a local guide, go from the visitor center of Ajloun to Mar Elias or Elijah’s hill (the likely site of his birthplace). Here you find ruins of one of the oldest churches in Jordan which is dedicated to Prophet Elijah. You can choose to stay overnight at a local homestay in Ajloun. or at the Nature Reserve cabins, or return to Amman.
Day 3: Pella and Umm Qais
Using Amman as a base, you can also visit the ancient ruins of Pella, where the Christians of Jerusalem fled in AD70. Then you continue north 1 hour to the striking basalt ruins of the Decapolis city of Um Qais, Biblical Gadara. (Luke 8:39). Here you can go on a guided tour of the ruins as well as a hike with a local guide. Beginning from Gadara you will walk to the west having marvelous views over the Golan Heights in Syria, the Sea of Galilee, Yarmouk Valley and maybe even the mountains of Lebanon. Overnight at a guest house is available in Umm Qais, or return to Amman or Madaba.
Day 4: Madaba – Bethany Baptism Site – Mount Nebo
The next place to use as a base for your biblical tour is the predominantly Christian town of Madaba, known as the “mosaic city.” From here, it is a nice outing to Bethany Beyond the Jordan, officially recognized as the Baptism Site of Jesus in the Jordan River. (See John 1:24-28) The location is also on the famous Holy Land mosaic map of Madaba. It was an important pilgrimage site for early Christians. Monks and hermits lived here during the Byzantine period and the archaeological remains of early churches can be seen, as well as the modern St John’s Orthodox church.
Also from Madaba you are close to Mount Nebo, from which Moses viewed the land of Promise but was not allowed to enter. (Deuteronomy 34:1-6) The site is now under the purview of the Franciscans who also have a monastery here. You will see 5th century mosaics and baptismal fonts in the Moses Memorial Church, and check out the small museum onsite.
Day 5: Machaerus and Umm Ar-Rasas
Madaba is also a good base for your biblical tour. Today you will be heading out to visit the hilltop fortress of Machaerus belonging to King Herod. This was the site where John the Baptist was said to be executed. It is located on the border of the territory between Herod Antipas and the King of Petra (Aretas).
From Machaerus it is just a one hour drive to the UNESCO world heritage archaeological site of Umm Ar-Rasas where the remains of several Byzantine Churches and their 8th century mosaics can be seen. It is mentioned in the Bible (Jeremiah 48:21 and Joshua 13:18) as Mephaath. The writings of the Christian historian Eusebius around 500 CE. also mention this site. Make sure to see the Stylite tower, where ascetic monks would sit on top in isolation.
Option: You can skip these sites and spend this day at the lowest point on earth: the Dead Sea!
Day 6: Kerak – Buseirah – Shobak
As you make your way south towards Petra, it is usual to stop at the large crusader castle at Kerak which includes a church and a museum displaying Moabite artifacts. But the history of this site is much older than the crusades! The Old Testament mentions Kerak several times by various names, such as Kir Harosheth. (See Isaiah 15,16 and Jeremiah 48).
Recently, due to development made possible by USAID- SCHEP, it is possible to visit the historical site of Buseirah (Biblical Bozrah or Botzrah) which was once the capital of the Edomites— now also a modern village located between the towns of Tafilah and Shobak. Several times the Bible mentions this location, mainly in the judgements against Edom. (See Jeremiah 49: 13,22 and Amos 1:12). Be aware, however, that there are no public restrooms at the site yet.
When you stop to see Shobak crusader castle, you will be at one of the highest points in Jordan and in a strategic point in the highlands of Edom. You can still see the remains of a church and chapel.
Day 7 : Petra
Today you arrive in Wadi Musa, the Valley of Moses where the Spring of Moses is located. No trip to Jordan would be complete without a visit to the UNESCO world heritage site of Petra. This city was carved from the rock by the Nabatean people. But there are also the remains of three churches and their mosaics dating to the 4th/5th century to be seen as well (Petra Church, Blue Church and Ridge Church) situated on a hill opposite the Great Temple.
Some have identified Petra area as the location where Moses and the tribes of the Exodus spent many years before heading north to enter the promised land. And some believe that Petra has prophetic significance as well, as a location of safety in times of great tribulation. After your day touring Petra you will head to Wadi Rum for dinner and overnight in a bedouin camp!
Day 8: Wadi Rum – Departure
Everyone loves the majestic desert of Wadi Rum, and it is a most popular attraction in Jordan as people experience the bedouin life. But did you know that this is one of the areas that the Israelites encamped during the Exodus? Wadi Rum is amid the wilderness of Paran and rightly deserves to be part of a biblical tour of Jordan. The tallest mountain, Jabal Um Ad Dami is likely to be Mount Paran. In Wadi Rum, Moses wrote parts of the Torah.
The Biblical tour of Numbers 33 mentions several places in Wadi Rum. Hazeroth is on the southeastern corner along the border with Saudi Arabia. Rithmah is in south central Rum near Mount Paran. Rimmon Parez (which literally means “the breaking of the pomegranate”) is in north central Rum. In the Torah it mentions that the people had fun in a spot called Tophel. This is Wadi Rum central, where people are still having fun today!
After a jeep tour (and perhaps a camel ride!) head back to the airport for departure this evening.