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Tours in the Middle East

by Elias Dangoor

Elias Dangoor infront of "The Burning Bush"

Having been in Eilat in winter for several years, our general perception is that in winter it is almost certain to have good weather. It was not so last year. We therefore decided to take tours.

Petra: Being in Jordan, a one-day tour is expensive because we have to change our coach and guide each time we cross the border. We also have to pay 45 for a Jordanian visa. After two hours driving we arrived at Petra which is a small town in Wadi Mousa. The inhabitants are Hashimite Bedouins who are staunch supporters of the King. At its centre there is Ain Mousa, where they say that Moses struck the ground with his stick and the water started to flow. An Israeli army officer told me that this is not true and that there is a hot water spring in the south of Mount Sinai called Ain Mousa, which, we consider, as the real one.

The important part of Petra is the canyon in the nearby mountains. It is a long and twisted passage between the two sections of a high mountain, with rugged floor. It narrows and widens continuously. No car can drive in, and it is difficult for animals.

After having walked for sometime, we arrived in front of what appeared to be a façade of a large building with high columns and statues. In many ways it resembles the White House of America, except for its beautiful colour. We entered through the door and found a large room. All the building was carved in the mountain by the Greeks, and completed by the Romans. Between those two ruling powers, Petra was the capital of the Nabateans, who spoke and wrote the Aramaic language. They ruled the whole area including Damascus, for three centuries until the Romans under Nero invaded it.

Moving further we reached a large amphitheatre, half Greek and half Roman. It was carved at a round corner at the end of the canyon. Then we went up the mountain to see rooms carved therein, where people used to live through the ages. They are now empty.

The tour was tiring, but it was well worth it. It took us four hours from the time we left the coach until we returned. Driving back we went through Akaba to see the town and the Royal Palace. We also saw how the Jordanians view Eilat, and the contrast between a European high-rise city and an Arab one.

Sinai: This was our other tour. It was exciting to see such an historic part of the world where our ancestors sojourned for forty years and, where God spoke to Moses and gave him the Commandments.

Sinai consists of three sections. The north is an open desert, the centre is a high plateau, while the south is mountainous. We were driven to the latter part where they took us to St Catherine's Monastery, which was founded by the Greek Orthodox 1500 years ago. Close to it we saw a boarded well, which they consider the one from which Moses helped a group of girls to get water, and he eventually married one of them. Next to the well there are some shrubs. These, we were told are the burning bush through which God spoke to Moses for the first time. We were also told that this bush is the original one that survived since that time, having deep roots it does not need watering and that, it is the only one of its kind in the whole of Sinai.

We were then shown Moses' Mountain, where Moses received the Ten Commandments.

Jewish people of religion dispute all these locations because none of them can be proved.



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