Monday, December 11, 2006

Finding Nebo

"And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead (...) unto Zoar. And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD."
Deuteronomy 34:1-5

Mount Nebo is where Moses, after 40 years of wandering hither and thither (obviously he was too embarrassed to stop and ask for directions), finally saw the Promised Land ... and then died. Which I think shows that God has a pretty mean, sadistic streak. He could have at least let Moses get to the Promised Land before getting rid of him. I mean the poor bastard was 120 years old. Anyway, the quote is slightly incorrect because you actually descend slightly from the Moab plateau to get to Mount Nebo, which itself isn't really a mountain, but the edge of a cliff that overlooks the Dead Sea valley. And he must have been very lucky to see anything due to the haze which made even the Dead Sea, not 10km away, barely visible to me. Ah well, I suppose they were taking some artistic license whilst writing the Bible, after all it is a work of fiction! There are, however, some beautiful Byzantine mosaics there and in the nearby town of Madaba.

Seeing these various sites that are important to both Christians and Muslims as well as the number of active churches has made me see that the Arab countries of the Levant arefar more mulitcultural than we give them credit for, with the two religions coexisting side by side without any problems. It seems to me that in the West we view Arabs to be automatically Muslim and Christianity as a European religion, whereas neither is true. (Actually, come to think of it, every major world religion has its origins in Asia.) There is a lack of understanding, and perhaps even a lack of wanting to understand, of the Arab world that angers the people here and makes them feel targetted. This was evident when I hitched a ride to Madaba from Mount Nebo - as soon as I got in the driver, without me having uttered a word, went on the defensive of Arab people and their culture (something he didn't need to do as he was preaching to the converted).

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