Jericho: The Oldest City in the World
About 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem, lays the “City of Palm Trees”, the oldest city in the world. In Biblical times, Jericho was known as an oasis city and it appears in 58 Bible verses. In Jericho, Jesus gave to the people "The Parable of the Pounds" that appears in the Gospel of Luke, and is called “The Parable of the Minas” in the Gospel of Matthew. It’s also the city Herod the Great himself chose to build his winter palace in, because of its warm climate and fresh springs. Perhaps one of the most-well known stories in the Bible is the story of the famous city that lost its walls after Joshua’s Israelite army marched around the city blowing their trumpets. You’ve probably been singing “the walls of Jericho came tumbling down” since early childhood, but never knew what contemporary Jericho actually looks like. Although Jericho is a small city with a population of merely around 20 thousand people, it is filled with religious, archaeological, and natural treasures!
Not only did Jesus heal a blind man on his way to Jericho (Luke 18:35-43), but it’s also where Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus. Zacchaeus was a tax collector who is known as a “bad man” to his people but was chosen by Jesus to visit his house. To their surprise, Zacchaeus was so glad by Jesus’s visit that he stood up and said, “Look, Lord, I will give to the poor people half of all I have. And if I have cheated anyone, I will give him back four times as much as I took” (Luke 19:8). After all, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”. Make sure to add Zacchaeus Tree to your route the next time you’re in the Holy Land!
Not too far from the old excavation site of Jericho is Elijah’s well! The well Elijah purified by throwing salt and saying “Thus says the LORD, ‘I have purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness any longer’” (2 Kings 2:21). The spring is still active to this day and its fresh running water is available to the public and can be accessed by turning on the tap.
The Monastery of Temptation
It's the site where Christ was tempted by the devil during his 40-day fast. There is a beautiful Greek Orthodox Church that clings to the mountain’s sheer face about 350 meters above sea level that is an awe-inspiring sight. The most fun way to get on top of the mountain is by taking a cable car ride that enjoys a breathtaking panoramic view to all of Jericho and its history including Elisha’s spring.
Jesus Baptismal Site in River Jordan
One of the most important sites of pilgrimage is the site where the “spiritual birth” took place. It’s the site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and the Holy Spirit descended on him from Heaven. Pilgrims go there to renew baptismal promises (or to actually be baptized).
"As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him…” (Matthew 3:16-17)
Bordered by Jordan to the east and Palestine to the west, the Dead Sea is one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water. In Arabic, it is called Al-Bahr al-Mayyit which literally translates to “the dead sea”. It has a surface of around 430 metres below sea level, which is the lowest point on earth.
Hisham’s Palace is one of the main archaeological excavation sites in Jericho. The uncovered excavation shows the remains of the magnificent winter palace that was destroyed by an earthquake in 747 AD. The site contains royal buildings, a mosque, water fountains, and spectacular mosaic floors.
Qumran is the site where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered hidden in clay jars by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947. Nowadays, visitors can still admire what the archaeologists have uncovered of remains of a tower, kitchen, dining halls, as well as the place where the actual Dead Sea Scrolls were written.
From hiking in Wadi Qelt to visiting the Church of St. George, from exploring Tel Es-Sultan to trying fresh deliciousness of fruits and vegetables that are produced year round and available in Jericho City Market, Jericho must be visited at least once in your lifetime. To learn more about its sites and attractions visit visitpalestine.ps.
Join one of our 2018/2019/2020 upcoming pilgrimages and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, visit the Holy Land, and get the chance to explore Jericho!