Glimpses of Israel - Petra

by Joseph Hunting

Although outside the present border of Israel, the rose-red city of Petra is surely one of the archaeological wonders of the world.

In ancient times Petra would have been well-nigh impregnable. The only entrance to the city was through a long extremely narrow canyon with vertical walls almost touching. A mere handful of men could have defended the city against an army of thousands.

Esau's descendants occupied Petra. They incurred Divine displeasure for refusing food and water to the Israelites as they passed through the land. Later the city was occupied by the Nabateans and finally by the Romans.

Over the centuries the inhabitants of Petra hewed magnificent buildings and temples in the rose-coloured rock face, and dwelt in security until God's prophet Jeremiah foretold its desolation.

"O you that dwell in the clefts of the rock that holds the height of the hill: though you should make your nest as high as the eagle, I will bring you down from thence, says the Lord. Also Edom shall be a desolation ..." (49:16-17)

Jeremiah's prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. Petra, a city literally nestling in the clefts of the rock was so completely desolate that its whereabouts was forgotten for hundred of years until the explorer John Burkhardt rediscovered it in 1812.