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Religion & Faith

RELIGION & FAITH

During the time of Jesus and the Apostles, one of the East Mediterranean's greatest trading centres was located in the southern Jordan city of Petra, the extensive rock-cut capital of the Nabataean Kingdom.

Petra flourished during Nabataean rule from the 3rd century BC to the early 2nd century AD, when it was occupied by the Roman Emperor, Trajan. Petra seems to be mentioned in the Bible's Old Testament under several possible names, including Sela and Joktheel (2 Kings 14:7).

During the Exodus, Moses and the Israelites passed through the Petra area in Edom. Local tradition says that the spring at Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses), just outside Petra, is the place where Moses struck the rock and brought forth water (Numbers 20:10-11). The Bible says that Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land but could only glimpse it from Mount Nebo because he struck the rock with his rod to bring forth water, instead of speaking to it, as God had commanded (Numbers 20:12-24).

Aaron, the brother of Moses and Miriam, who was called by God to be Moses' prophet, died in Jordan and was buried in Petra at Mount Hor, now called Jabal Harun in Arabic (Mount Aaron). A Byzantine church and later an Islamic shrine/tomb of Aaron were built on the summit of the mountain, which today attracts pilgrims from all over the world. Aaron was the first High Priest of the Bible and is remembered for the beautiful blessing that God commanded him to give people: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace" (Numbers 6:24-26).

Petra was almost certainly the last staging post of the three kings, who took frankincense, gold and myrrh to honour the baby Jesus in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-12). The King Aretas, mentioned in Corinthians 11:32, was a Nabataean king who ruled Petra.

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The Treasury at Petra was used in the final sequence of the film, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."

Petra is sometimes called the ‘Lost City’. In spite of its being such an important city in antiquity, after the 14th century AD, Petra was completely lost to the western world. It was rediscovered in 1812 by the Swiss traveller, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, who tricked his way into the fiercely guarded site by pretending to be an Arab from India wishing to make a sacrifice at the tomb of the Prophet Aaron.

In 1985, Petra was officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For more about UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Jordan, Click here >>