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AtlasToursJordanBiblical Jordan

Moses and the Exodus

Several hundred years after the narratives of Jacob, Esau, Joseph and his brothers, the Bible recounts the key story of the Exodus, which marked the emergence of Moses (pbuh) as the greatest Old Testament figure.

Many sites and incidents in Jordan are associated with the story of Moses and the Exodus route, linking his departure from Egypt with his final moments and death on the summit of Mount Nebo. The Bible gives several different Exodus itineraries through the lands of Edom and Moab (Numbers 21, 33; Deuteronomy 2; Judges 11:12-22).

The Bible reports that when Moses and the Israelites reached the land that is now modern Jordan, they had to contend with the peoples and nations that lived there, including Edom, Moab, Ammon and several Amorite kings in central and northern Jordan.

The Plains of Moab

The fertile plains of Bashan in northern Jordan, renowned for their fine cattle, belonged to the Amorite King Og (Numbers 21:33). A giant of a man, King Og was famed for his huge iron 'bed' (probably a coffin), which was preserved in Rabbath-Ammon (Deuteronomy 3:11).

The Amorite King Sihon ruled the area of central Jordan from his capital at Heshbon, widely identified with modern Hisban due to the similarity in names (Numbers 21:26). Song of Solomon 7:5, says "...your eyes are like pools in Heshbon...".

Modern Hisban village is the first major antiquities site on the King's Highway south of Amman. Some scholars thinks nearby Tell Jalul is a better candidate for ancient Heshbon. Both sites, 20 minutes by car from Amman, have been excavated and can be visited easily.

Excavations at Tell Jalul

Fortified in the Roman-Byzantine period and called Esbus, Hisban was also an important early Christian station on the pilgrims' route from Jerusalem to Mount Nebo via the Jordan River. The excavated ancient Tell Hisban has been equipped with signs and walkways that allow visitors to appreciate its many ancient remains, from the Iron, Greco-Roman, Byzantine and medieval Islamic periods.

Jethro, the Midianite priest and father of Moses' wife Zipporah (Exodus 3:1) is memorialized at the "tomb of Jethro", an important pilgrimage site in Wadi Shu'ayb, near Salt, northwest of Amman (Shu'ayb is the Arabic name for Jethro). At nearby Ain Al-Jadur, west of Salt, is the tomb of Gad, the 7th son of Jacob by his wife Leah's maid Zilpah (Genesis 35:26); the tomb of Asher, Jacob's 8th son, also by Zilpah, is in an adjacent valley.

Continue to: Exodus Stations in Jordan
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