National Geographic : 1976 Jan
To intersect their conjectured route, I had to make quite a roundabout journey of my own, traveling from Elat to Jerusalem, and thence to Jericho and the Allenby check point-the only legal crossing point between Israel and Jordan. From there I drove south over the semi arid hills of Moab and Edom. I stopped at the mountain-locked ruins of Petra, with its magnificent temples and tombs carved out of rose-red sandstone cliffs. This had been the capital of the Nabataeans, who in Jesus' day guarded many of the same trade routes that the Edomites and the Midianites controlled in the time of Moses. Moslems Honor Hebrew's Memory Nearby rises the peak of Jabal Harun, the Mount of Aaron. Tradition equates it with Mount Hor, where Moses' brother, Aaron, died. Within a small white mosque on its summit is a cloth-draped bier. This, accord ing to a Moslem tradition, is the "tomb" of Aaron. Reaching the summit of the imposing mountain after an arduous two-hour climb, I was instructed by my young Jordanian guide, "Please, sir, take off your shoes. This is holy ground." I couldn't help but remember God's words to Moses during their first confrontation at the Burning Bush: "Moses, Moses.... put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." Vir tually the same words! My search after Moses was approaching full circle. Returning north through the hills of Moab, I made the final stop of my months-long journey-atop the traditional Mount Nebo. Here the aged prophet came at last to view Celebrating the deliverance of the an cient Israelites from bondage in Egypt, a family of Russian Jews in Jerusalem ob serves the ritual of the Passover, which commemorates the events of the Exodus. Unleavened matzo recalls the Biblical episode in which the Israelites, fleeing from Pharaoh, could not tarry long enough to prepare leavened bread. Abandoned by its inhabitants during the 1967 war, a Palestinian refugee camp gath ers shadows on the West Bank of Jordan near Jericho. Not far from here the ancient Israelites, shortly after Moses' death, crossed the River Jordan and made their long delayed entry into the Promised Land.