Moses wasn’t lost. His was simply an extended tour. He wanted to make sure future generations would make stops in the desert to experience complete reliance on God in barren places. And to have a good place to eat and pick up souvenirs to show they were in one of the most amazing places on earth.
For much of this trip I have had the culture shock of seeing ancient, historically important sites set up like tourist traps. The McDonald’s at Masada was the epitome of catering to the imported dollar. But I’ve been here long enough to recognize that this is not out of character with the history of some of the sites we’ve been seeing. The ancients built many of the these cities along the main trade routes. They were set up for being centers of commerce. They expected their water springs, their temples and special geological features to be a magnet for visitors to come, stay, trade, learn and leave the blessing of a capital investment.
I’m writing this sitting in the bar of my hotel in Wadi Musa, the town with Petra, recently named one of the new seven wonders of the world. (Recall the last 20 minutes of Indiana Jones and the last Crusade) Tourism feeds the current population of 25,000 in Wadi Musa. There are more than 50 hotels here. Since the current crisis in Syria has made travel to Jordan tenuous, tourism is down right now. They’re glad to have us here.
We arrived this evening to a feast for the palate in food and for our ears as Swedish and French rounded out the Arabic we heard.
We were in Mt Nebo at noon today, the hill Moses saw Jericho from and where he died. The fourth century pilgrim Egeria also made it here after an already full visit to Jerusalem. Today we got to drive up. I’m sure her walk up the hot mount was a chore. An art piece to commemorate the snake he put on a pole is there. We went to Madaba too, to see the church of the mosaic map where 6th century AD cartographers mapped most of the Middle East.
We stroll into Petra tomorrow morning and make our way back to the states in our dusty clothes. Looking forward to being home. Looking forward to coming back.