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THE ROLE OF THE CITY OF PETRA IN THE BIBLE

SCRIPTURES

Isaiah, chapter 2

2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house (Petra has in general always been a holy place of worship, even though the worship was not towards our Lord and God most of the time) shall be established in the top of the mountains (Petra lies at an elevation of 2,700ft/810 meters and the mountains in the Jordan area are about 3000ft/900 meters high) , and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

2:10 Enter into the rock (entering through the “Siq” of the City of Petra is like entering into solid rock, at places the cleft is less that 3 meters/9ft wide and the rock walls end about 90meters/300ft above) , and hide thee in the dust (the pathway through the “Siq” is covered with sediments and fine sand and the streets of Petra are still covered by several feet of dirt which is constantly being removed as part of ongoing archeological excavations) , for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty.

2:19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth (Petra has in fact been referred to as “the city of the dead” as it has a large amount of tombs, caves and holes all over the city; reportedly there are between 500-3000 tombs in the area, including the so dubbed “temples”) , for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. (earthquakes are normal in the Jordan area, as the Arabic and the African continental plates meet right in that area; their movements have caused at least 2 major earthquakes which almost destroyed the city of Petra: May 19, 363 AD and one in 747 AD)

2:20 In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;

2:21 To go into the clefts of the rocks (the “Siq” is often described as a “cleft” in the rock; it is actually a 0.63mile/1km long fissure between overhanging cliffs that seem to meet more than 300ft/90meters overhead) , and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. (see above)

2:22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of ?

Daniel, chapter 9

9:2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood (flashfloods are common in the “wadis” of the Jordan area; a “wadi” is a desert stream that is dry most of the year, but becomes flooded during rainfall and will carry vast amounts of water and sediment) , and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Daniel, chapter 11

11:40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.(

11:41 He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. (Edom, Moab and Ammon are not too far from Petra, can be reached in several hours by car.)

11:42 He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.

(Note: we are generally talking about land between the city of Ammon in the North and the country of Egypt in the Southwest; Petra lies just about in the middle. Further down (Matthew 24:16): Judea is mentioned which is also relatively close to Petra)

11:43 But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.

11:44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.

11:45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas (Gulf of Aquaba and Red Sea) in the glorious holy mountain (Petra) ; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

Matthew, chapter 24

24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains (across the Red Sea as in Moses’ time?) :

24:17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:

24:18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

24:19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

24:20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter (winter is the main rain time, “wadis” experience flashfloods) , neither on the sabbath day:

24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

Mark, chapter 13

13:10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

13:11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

13:12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

13:13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

13:14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains (see above) :

13:15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:

13:16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.

13:17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

13:18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter (see above) .

13:19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

13:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

Luke, chapter 21

21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

21:21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains (see above) ; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out (some Bedouins have still lived in Petra until the government made it illegal; it is possible that not everybody there follows that law) ; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. (Entrance will either be denied or will not be possible for some reason.)

21:22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

21:23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

21:26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

Revelation, chapter 6

6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains (Petra, with all its caves and tombs and hundreds of still standing buildings that were directly hewn out of the rock) ;

6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

MORE INTERRESTING FACTS ON PETRA

Location:

Petra, located in the biblical land of “Edom”, lies about 3-5 hours (approximately 160-170miles/257-273km) south of modern “Amman” and about 2 hours north of “Aqaba”, on the edges of the mountainous and rugged desert of the “Wadi Araba”. From the “Arabah”, Petra is accessible from the West through the “Wadi M(o)usa”. The city is surrounded by towering hills of reddish sandstone. (A natural protection against invaders.) Looking at Petra’s past as a trade-center, it also lies at the junction of the north-south route from “Ezion-geber” to “Ammon” and “Damascus” and the east-west route to “Beersheba” and “Gaza”.( The wealth and political power of this indigenous Arab people derived from their control of the international trade routes that linked China, India and Southern Arabia with the wealthy Mediterranean markets Greece, Rome, Egypt and Syria.)

Petra is also located about 50miles/80km south of the “Dead Sea”.

Security: Petra it was once a fortress, carved out of rocks in an area, which was virtually inaccessible, and the “Nabataean” inhabitants held off outside conquests for hundreds of years, until Roman legions of the Emperor Trajan finally overcame both geological and social military barriers to occupy the city in 106 A.D. The main entrance to the city of Petra is the “Siq”, a winding, 0.63mile/1km long fissure between overhanging cliffs that rise up to more than 300ft/90meters overhead. In times of war the city was easy to defend against invaders, as just a few people were needed to hold off the intruders that were coming through the narrow opening of the “Siq”. The pathway through the “Siq”, originally paved, is now largely covered with soft sand, even though the remains of the Nabataean construction can still be seen in some places. The “Siq” was formed at some time in the geological past by the same earthquake activity that has tortured the area ever since.

Water Provision and Flood-Prevention:

The Nabataeans were expert hydraulic engineers. The walls of the “Siq” are lined with channels (originally fitted with chamfered clay pipes of efficient design) to carry drinking water to the city, while a dam to the right of the entrance diverted an adjoining stream through a tunnel to prevent it flooding the “Siq”. The Nabataeans saved every last drop of water. They had basins to catch water runoff, underground channels and cisterns to house water all over the site.

City Of The Dead:

There are reportedly between 500 and 3000 tombs from different time periods in and around Petra; archeologists do call some of them temples because of their monumental magnificence.

The Meaning Of The Name:

The Nabataean capital’s name varied between its Greek form, 'Petra', and its Semitic form, 'RQM'. The name ‘Petra’ was most commonly found in external records (in Arabic ‘Batra’). The name 'RQM' was identified with Petra based upon a passage in Josephus (AJ 4.7.1), where a certain 'Reqemos' is seen to be one of the Midianite kings attacking Moses (Numbers 31:8) and to be both king and builder of 'Arecem', said to be 'called by the Greeks Petra' (note also Starky's comments, 1965: 95-7; 1966: cols. 897ff.).

The 'Greek' form, 'Petra', which means 'Rock', refers to Umm Il-Biyara, and was used by the Romans (cf. Dio Cassius 68.5, Dioscorides, and others), but you find the Nabataean form in Semitic sources, as Mishnaic, and Targumic usages reveal (Nidd. 8:3; Gitt. 1:1; Sifre, Deut. 51; Yalk. Deut. 51; Tosef. Shebi, IV, II; Y. Shebi, 5.36; Targ. Num. 14.4; Targ. Jos. 15.3; Targ. Gent. 14.7, 20.1). But still some confusion exists in regard to attribution of the site name, with RQM sometimes identified with Kadesh-Barnea (e.g. Rab. Gamalial, Rab. Judah, and the targumim cited).

A third name for Petra, found in some records, is “Sela”. ‘Sela’ or ‘Selah’ [Heb.=rock], in the Bible, unidentified town, S of the Dead Sea. Amaziah captured it and renamed it ‘Joktheel’, (which means, ‘subdued by God’), a fourth name that is used in relation to the city of Petra.
Petra has been called the ‘Rose-red City’ due to the rose and reddish colored rock that is typical for the area.

Peculiar is that ‘Selah’ is also an obscure Hebrew word occurring many times in Psalms and in Habakkuk. Its derivation is unknown. It is believed that it is a musical notation signifying a pause or the end of a phrase.

MAPS

Seismicity in the Middle East – map
Jordan Area Map

RESOURCES

Resources/Petra-Links
You can get some good maps at:
www.expediamaps.com

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