“What’s Christmas got to do with Petra?” you ask. The Three Wise Men who came from the East quite likely took this same caravan road in search of a unique child born to be a King! But these are tourists in the photo! I took this picture a month ago when we visited Petra.

When I clicked my camera, the scene flashbacked into history for me! I mean here are these three guys plodding along on their camels down the dark narrow canyon much like the Three Magi would have done. Did you know the Magi were actually Persian priests, distinguished astrologers regarded as scientists then. They read heavenly signs of prophetic meaning and they came to see just what had occurred. [1]

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Down the narrow path to Petra! This ancient city was a centre of commerce along the major trade route from the Persian deserts in the East to the Mediterranean in the West.

 

Carved out of the red sandstone mountains in southern Jordan, it’s a world heritage site today. Millions of people have now walked along this caravan route long before Christianity began.

 

The source of Petra’s water is the Ain Musa (“the Spring of Moses”), according to a local Bedouin legend. They say the spring was miraculously created when Moses struck a rock with his staff for the Israelites wandering through the desert after leaving Egypt. Water gushed out of the rock. [2]

 

 

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Carved channals, some still lined with clay pipes carried clean water of Ain Musa along the side of the wall into Petra. Water is precious in this climate and this city even had its own water works!

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Our guide, who also works as an archeologist, talks softly about the winds and rains of time wearing down the exquisite stone statues of men and camels creating a rich and unique art galley along the way.

 

 

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We hike for an hour or two and now we are hot and thirsty in the heat. The narrow dark road meanders through a tunnel-like trail.

 

 

 

 

Finally we stop in awe at the entry opening into the Siq. This is what we see: A site called the Treasury glowing in red-golden stone.

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Petra was a large trading city. It’s temples and homes were built right into – and up the steep walls of the red sandstone cliffs. Perhaps the wise men even bought their gold, myrrh and frankincense at Petra on their way to Bethlehem! [3]

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The caves, called grottos, are dug out of the soft rock and used for private homes. Mary and Joseph were living in one of these grottos in the village of Bethlehem, warmed for the winter by the warmth of their animals.

 

 

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Steps carved into the walls lead up to higher cave homes. There were merchants and tradesmen living here. This was some fancy real estate!

 

 

 

 

Houses of government and commerce were streaming with people flowing in and out. Look how tiny the people are compared to the pathways going up!

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A huge amphitheater with seats of red sandstone once held crowds in attendance. Cultural events, great speakers of old, travellers from far and wide met in this desert oasis.

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Seeing this ancient city makes the history of the first century come alive to me! And really how difficult could it be to sling a leg over this “horse” and ride off into the desert?

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Just kidding! We turn around and head back toward the dark canyon passage on foot instead! The grandeur of the place and the cultural differences in people are amazing as we hike back out.

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Back in the Vatican Museum one can see the origin of our most common Christmas card! It’s the original manger scene with the Wise Men offering gifts to the Christ child. Yet this image is fashioned into stone on the lid of a sarcophagus! And guess what’s really amazing? It’s dated back to the third century, created before 300 AD!

It’s not just a Christmas story! It’s history.

 

What child is this indeed, that such distinguished scientific scholars travelled so far to find him. I hope you find him too…shining brightly in your ♥ hearts this Christmas Season.

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[1]   Wikipedia.org Biblical Magi

[2] Framer’s Destinations/Petra

[3] See the Holy Land.net

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* Excerpts and links of this material may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jane Catherine Rozek and TheCelestialProposal.com website.
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