To be Humbled


To travel is to be humbled.

I say that often as a North American, especially when I gaze upon buildings that are older than my home country. I’ve stood in awe, breathless and sometimes tearful, silenced by the brilliant efforts of people thousands of years before my coming to stand in the exact spot where they once labored.

I am not a religious person but I could not help but be similarly moved by two of our important historical stops in Jordan.

Places that form part of the basis of Christianity. Places that are the source of much love, hate, devotion, persecution, war, peace.

Places that bring ancient words to life.


Mount Nebo

Somewhere on this dusty hill, with a view of a vast field of empty land, the prophet Moses is said to be buried. It is also where God once stood with Moses and proclaimed the land before them to be given to the Israelites.

Deuteronomy 32:48-52

On that very day the Lord addressed Moses as follows: ‘Ascend this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites for a possession; you shall die there on the mountain that you ascend and shall be gathered to your kin, as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his kin; because both of you broke faith with me among the Israelites at the waters of Meribath-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, by failing to maintain my holiness among the Israelites. Although you may view the land from a distance, you shall not enter it—the land that I am giving to the Israelites.’


The view from Mount Nebo, where God stood with Moses.

Promised Land from Mount Nebo


A serpentine cross structure sits atop Mount Nebo, symbolic of the cross Jesus died on and the bronze snake created by Moses.

Cross Mount Nebo


Bethany Beyond the Jordan

In a small natural pool fed by the Jordan river, Jesus was baptized. The exact location has been disputed in recent years, having once believed to be on Israel land, the actual site was discovered only in 1996 in Jordan. Pope Benedict XVI visited in 2009 to sanctify the blessed spot.

Mark 1:9-11

‘In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’


Remains of three churches exist, those that were built to honor the baptism of Jesus.

Bethany Beyond the Jordan


A large mosaic is onsite, to commemorate the visit of the Pope.

Mosiac Bethany Beyond the Jordan


Jordan is home to many important Christian sites. For more information on these and others, visit the tourism board website.


Our visits to Mount Nebo and Bethany Beyond the Jordan were arranged by Visit Jordan. As always, the opinions we express are our own.


38 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • Ali
    July 2 2012

    Places rich in history just blow me away. It’s why I love Europe, it’s why I loved Ephesus so much, and it’s why I’m sure I’d love all the things you’re seeing in Jordan.

    • July 3 2012

      You and me both. Someday I will return to this part of the world and thoroughly dive into all of this. I just can’t get enough!

    • Jon
      July 18 2012

      I agree with you Ali and Dalene. Being from the Midwest U.S., I remember the first time I went to the East Coast. I was so impressed by buildings built in the 1700s. Now I get to live in a place written about in the book of Genesis! Wild.
      Jon recently posted..Family Travel in the Middle East

  • Ter
    July 2 2012

    Beautiful photos, guys! I’m going to forward this to our Religious Studies Lead teacher – maybe he can show it briefly in our classes when they do Scripture studies!
    Ter recently posted..I Can Change My Mind

  • July 2 2012

    I’m not religious but I was also impressed by Mount Nebo, it definitely had a sense of energy to it that you can’t explain.
    ayngelina recently posted..Haleakala Sunrise

    • July 3 2012

      Some places just do that to you. And I wasn’t expecting any grand feelings about it at all.

  • July 2 2012

    I know exactly what you mean about be humbled by places that are older than you can even comprehend. I stayed in an old Romanian farm house the other night with a foundation that dates back to 1768. That’s older than the United States! Amazing.

    Mount Nebo looks very cool.
    Amanda recently posted..Soaking at the Szechenyi Baths

    • July 3 2012

      It’s crazy, right? My first trip overseas I saw the Colloseum in Rome, and was just staggering because of it. Everything we have in North America is so new and shiny in comparison!

  • July 3 2012

    Gorgeous photos! I love deserts and history; Jordan certainly has them both. Great post.

  • July 3 2012

    That’s exactly it – many spots in that region form the basis of so much of how our world operates. It definitely makes a big impact to see them.

  • July 3 2012

    I find Jesus’ life fascinating (maybe not enough to read the bible!) so I would love to see some of these historic sights. Would absolutely love to go to Israel too, have you been? Thanks so much for the shout out in your newsletter, a lovely surprise and very much appreciated 🙂
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Swimming With Turtles On Gili Meno – The Proof

    • July 4 2012

      Haven’t been to Israel yet, but will do so someday for sure. I’m not much of a reader of the bible either (not since I was a kid, anyways), but I share your fascination. The fact that events surrounding his life still shape our world today just stuns me.

  • July 3 2012

    I really loved Mt Nebo in Jordan. It was such a small touristy site, but there was something special about it.
    Adam recently posted..Christopher Street Day gay pride in Berlin 2012

    • July 4 2012

      The quietness of the valley below, and what it represents, just draws people in I think. Really special.

  • Ryan at Travel and Graphs
    July 3 2012

    Not really religious, but have felt a similar feeling that you describe in this post. There is just something about standing at sites that have been the base of such influential events!

  • July 3 2012

    This is the exact reason why I love visiting religious places in India. I am really humbled when I stand at places whose stories I have heard and to see them in reality is awe inspiring.
    An amazing post, loved reading it. Have a happy week ahead:)
    Arti recently posted..…Back to Blogging

    • July 4 2012

      Thanks Arti, I’m glad you enjoyed it and we share the same thought on this!

  • July 3 2012

    Amazing place and great photos. I need to open my eyes a little more to religious sites. I always do my best to avoid them if possible!

    • July 4 2012

      Haha, that is one common viewpoint, for sure! Like I said, not religious at all, but the fact that what happened 2,000 years ago still shapes the world around us fascinates me to no end.

  • Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan… – Deuteronomy 32:49

    To say I am not religious would be a massive understatement, but I do have to give a shout out to the Promised Land!!!

    Land o’ milk and honey y’all!
    Caanan @ No Vacation Required recently posted..Photo Wrap Up of USA Road Trip

    • July 4 2012

      He-yo! The Promised Land gave you a shout-out right back! (Well, centuries ago, but still!)

  • July 4 2012

    I am not religious, but love visiting religious places and find them fascinating and often beautiful.

    • July 4 2012

      Truth be told, if I was going back to school, I would major in Religious Studies. I’m not religious at all either, but it just fascinates me.

  • I don’t think you have to be religious to appreciate places like this. I personally love going to them and I am as far away from religion as possible.
    Natalie – Turkish Travel recently posted..Brilliant Beekeeping : How The Turks Make Sweet, Golden Honey

    • July 4 2012

      You and me both then Natalie!

  • July 4 2012

    I don’t think you need to be religious to be able to feel the energy of a place with so much history. It’s a pretty cool feeling.

    • July 4 2012

      Many people have said the same.

  • July 4 2012

    Feeling like being a good husband tonight, I showed my wife your picture of Mt. Nebo and explained that this is where God showed Moses the land he was giving to the Israelites. Her question: “Did he show him on the plaque?”
    I love my wife! (and I kind of have a thing for your pictures too. Beautiful as always.)
    Steve recently posted..Packing Tips for Married Guys

    • July 4 2012

      Haha! I kinda love your wife now too! 🙂

  • July 4 2012

    I went to Catholic school all my life and visiting the places I read about nearly daily as a child fascinated me. Before we went to Jordan we had heard that Mount Nebo was not worth a stop, but we would disagree. We enjoyed it and its symbolism. Bethany Beyond the Jordan was amazing and so interesting to see the border being protected as it is there.
    Jennifer recently posted..Agriturismo = Homecooked Deliciousness

  • July 4 2012

    Have not made it to Jordan yet, but when I visited Israel, I loved the sense of deja vu from visiting all those sites I had heard about in Kingergarden (even though I’m not a church goer now.) But the “Mighty Jordan” of the gospel songs is just an itty bitty river now. How things change.
    Vera Badertscher recently posted..July 4th: Lesser Known Patriotic Destinations for Travelers

  • July 6 2012

    I enjoy a lot of the old testament history stuff. It is fascinating to think that a lot of it is still there. I would love to see it, but wonder if either I would be so overwhelmed or if it would live up to its expectations.
    Andrew recently posted..Holy Monastery of Grand Meteoron

  • July 6 2012

    I’m entirely an atheist, but the historical significance of these sites is entirely worth some awe. It always makes me wonder what they would say if they could talk about what they’ve seen and experienced.
    Laurence recently posted..Capture the Colour Photo Contest

    • July 8 2012

      Hmmm…isn’t that what the bible is supposed to be? 🙂

  • July 6 2012

    I have been to Petra in Jordan. Super! I’d like to return.
    Victor Tribunsky recently posted..Five things you want to know about Tenerife, Canary Islands

  • July 10 2012

    Fascinating post and great photos. Not only are these historical sites mind blowing, but since I am religious Christian, I would definitely be amazed and in awe to see these places in person.
    Mark Wiens recently posted..VIDEO: Korean Hangover Soup – Porkyness at its Finest!

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