After touring Madaba, our journey will take us to a ridge that rises in Jordan approximately 2,330ft in Jordan called “Mount Nebo.” In Numbers 20, the nation of Israel is contending with Moses and Aaron because they have no water.
It would be ignoring the context not to also see that Moses and Aaron’s sister, Miriam, has recently died and been buried. Undoubtedly grieving, in combination with the complaining of the people, clearly leaves Moses irritated with their attitudes. Thus, he carries out an order from God to take “the rod” with his brother, Aaron to speak to the rock before the eyewitness of the people, so that it would, “yield its water.”
However, standing before the rock and the people, Moses makes 3 critical errors. Instead of speaking to the rock, he, 1) let’s his anger take control of him and chastises the people; 2) takes partial credit (glory) for what is about to happen (“shall we bring forth water”); 3) and he struck the rock, not once, but twice to bring forth the water. This act cost Moses his entrance into the Promised Land.
The contemporary location of Mt Nebo is with the headland called Râs es-Siâghah, which is 6 miles northwest of Madaba in East Jordan. There are several springs at the foot of the northern slope that supply water to farming regions to the west and to the town of Madaba in the southeast. The springs are referred to as ‘Ąyun Mûsā, which means “the springs of Moses.” There is also a wadi to the west and a ruin on the north and the south (see, “This is Petra”) that holds his name as well.
The Byzantium monastery subsequently settled into the area and built a basilica that hosted a Presbytery, baptistery, chapel, and diakonikon baptistery (a central place where the priests could wash themselves and holy articles, as well as a storage area for pertinent books and other objects precious to them). The ruins are in exceptional state with regard to the Islamic invasions of the 7thc AD.
Archaeological excavations have borne out that the name of Nebo has been faithfully kept to the mountain and region prior to the 4thc AD. Eusebius’ Onomasticon (see, “This is Madaba”) demonstrates that the mountain was already known by the name long prior to the Byzantium inhabitation.