KEYWORDS: petra, city, god, rock, this, mountain

Bible in Pictures, The--Chapter 13--Numbers 21

David Berg



NOW LET'S GO IN TO THE ROCK CITY OF PETRA. This is going to be very thrilling because of the fulfillment of Bible prophecies, in which God promised some very amazing things.

1. MOSES & THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL CROSSED DOWN FROM KADESH TO ELATH, in the vicinity of the Gulf of Aqaba. Now these millions of the Children of Israel, trying to circle the land of the Edomites, are on their way up to the Rock city of Petra, on their way northward into Canaan Land.

THERE ARE PROPHECIES REGARDING PETRA, this great Rock City of Esau, in Isaiah 34, Ezk.35:9‚ also Jeremiah 49:16 & 17. It's very amazing in the fact that it is not built, it was a city which was never built‚ it was carved out of the solid rock!

FROM THIS POINT, THE EXACT ROUTE OF ISRAEL IS DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW. It is certain, however, that they followed the Arabah to a point between Ezion-geber & Elath. Here they turn north to compass Edom, & one halting place was Oboth. They continued north & encamped again at I Jeabarim, near the brook of Zared. They passed east of Petra, whose location is southeastward from the Dead Sea. Numbers 21.

3. THE GREAT ROCK CITY OF PETRA WAS THE CAPITAL OF EDOM. It was an impenetrable fortress. Only one narrow defile led into this great city.

4. WHAT A STRANGE PLACE FOR A CITY! Yet, enlightened & aristocratic cliff dwellers hollowed out their temples, tombs & homes in these flinty mountain sides. The most surprising & unusual ruins are to be found here. Here is what is called the citadel. Here we stand in the heart of the hills, in that ancient & forgotten city. Petra—which means from the Greek, a solid rock.

5. HERE IS THE NARROW DEFILE, OR VERY NARROW GORGE, only about 6 feet wide, that leads into the Rock City. You can imagine how easily defended it was; in fact, it held sway for about 4000 years, before it was eventually destroyed. It combined all the civilisation & culture from Egyptian building styles, on down to the time of the Greeks & the Romans. They didn't destroy it though, God destroyed it!

6. ALONG THIS NARROW PASSAGEWAY‚ THAT LEADS INTO THE ROCK CITY, THERE ARE MANY IDOL CRYPTS. That explains why God destroyed it: It became idolatrous, worshipping fiendish & devilish idols. Therefore, God destroyed this once great city‚ which once had millions of inhabitants, where there is now scarcely a sign of life! There is no promise of restoration in the Latter Days, as for Palestine, Egypt, Moab, Ammon or Assyria.

7. WE ARE APPROACHING THRU' THIS NARROW DEFILE. The one road, which leads into this city of 1000 surprises, winds through this precipitous gorge—the walls of which rise to a dizzy height.

THE ARABS STILL CALL IT THE RIFT OF MOSES, so perhaps Moses went through there. It's not a creek, but a simple rift in the rocks. Once a paved road led through it, & traces of that road are to be seen to this day. Those crypts you saw, along this cleft in the rock‚ are vari–coloured stone‚ & some of them very beautiful.

8. IT'S NOT SURPRISING, THEREFORE, THAT THE FIRST THING THAT YOU SEE, AS YOU LEAVE THE CLEFT IN THE ROCK, IS A TEMPLE OF WORSHIP. You can get a little idea of the size of it, by seeing the man sitting on the burro—down at the very bottom of the photo. It's like the Greek Parthenon or one of the great temples of Rome.

IT HAS A STRANGE COMBINATION OF ARCHITECTURE though, showing the 4000 years of its history. It seems to have a combination of some of the Egyptian architecture in the obelisks, some of these were built during Assyrian times‚ some Medo-Persian, Babylonian, some Grecian & some Roman, even some Byzantine or Eastern European architecture. The cupola on the top is what is called Byzantine architecture. This gigantic building was not built, it was carved out of solid rock!

(GRANDMOTHER: MY FATHER, A WORLD-FAMOUS TRAVELLER, MADE 3 TRIPS AROUND THE WORLD, & LECTURED ON MOST OF THE FAMOUS PLACES IN THE WORLD, said that he considered this the most phenomenal & outstanding of all of the Wonders of the World. There was something so fantastic about the beginning & the end of it, & the marvellous fulfilled prophecies!) Yes!

THIS IS THE OLD EL-KHAZNE, THE END OF THE ROAD of one of the most hazardous journeys that could be taken in the entire Holy Land—both as to hardship, as well as danger from Arabian robbers. My Grandfather had to hire a whole escort of soldiers to go with him‚ to protect him on his trip into this Rock City.

9. HERE IS THE CARVING IN FULL VIEW. Who built it? Was it a temple, a tomb, the residence of an ancient Nabatean ruler?—Who can say? It is called, by the Arabs‚ the El-khazne, or the Treasury of Pharaoh. So, evidently it dated back, at least, to Egyptian times; & yet, it seems too modern to have been built by a Pharaoh!

ITS ARCHITECTURE IS MORE ROMAN OR GRECIAN, yet, no Greek of Roman records lay claim to it. Perhaps it was even Solomon's Treasury, as the Arabs claim. It certainly was a wonderful fortress. This is a closer view of the decorations. The hand of the artist is akin to Greek or Roman in its design—a mixture of the two.

10. HERE IS ANOTHER PHOTO OF THE EL-KHAZNE. It stands 100 feet high! It's carved out of solid mountain, a flinty stone, very hard rock. It wasn't soft sandstone that was easily cut, it's just as hard as flint!

THE WHOLE MOUNTAIN PRESENTS A GENERAL REDDISH APPEARANCE‚ though really the strata is vari-coloured‚ ranging from red to purple. It's beautiful rock of all different colours, & the great structure stands out in bold relief—like a giant cameo.

11. THIS IS A GENERAL VIEW OF THE VALLEY OF THE TOMBS, a part of the Rock City of Petra, on the top of this mountain, The surrounding hills are honeycombed with tombs, also carved out of the stone mountain.

12. HERE'S A CLOSE VIEW OF MANY OF THE TOMBS, which rise to the 3rd tier—3 storeys high. It is believed that the uppermost storey was the first to be built—instead of building like a building, from the bottom up‚ these buildings were carved down.

13. THIS IS A PHOTO OF A VERY LARGE TOMB. A few are almost as modern & well-preserved as modern tombs. They are very artistic & some of them are very large. By the size of the man standing in front‚ you get a little idea of the immense size of that tomb.

14. THIS IS A VERY WELL–EXECUTED TOMB. A few are of the nature & design of the Khazne; some of them seem to be even more ancient.

15. IT IS BELIEVED THAT THIS ONE IS AMONG THE VERY LAST TO HAVE BEEN CONSTRUCTED, before the story of Petra closed & all records of it perished from the earth.

16. THIS IS THE INTERIOR OF ONE OF THESE BUILDINGS‚ carved out of the solid rock mountain. Notice the rubble & the rock strewn around. It wasn't that way when the people lived here! That's the result of the tremendous earthquake, which hit this city & destroyed it. So, God was the One that destroyed it!

17. HERE'S THE AMPHITHEATRE. There must have been a very large population is Petra at one time, for the great amphitheatre accommodated literally thousands upon thousands. It too is cut out of a solid stone, in keeping with the tombs & the temple & the residences of this city of mystery. Here you can see tents on the valley floor.

18. LOOKING SOWN FROM THE SUMMIT. A bit over a mile to the northwest, in the top of the same mountain, is a High Place of worship. Idumea, incidently, is the modern name of this area. It was called Idumea even in Christ's day.

(FAITH READS: "FOR MY SWORD SHALL BE BATHED IN HEAVEN: BEHOLD, IT SHALL COME DOWN UPON IDUMEA, & upon the people of My curse, to judgement! The sword of the Lord is filled with blood ... for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, & a great slaughter in the land of Idumea.… And their land shall be soaked with blood, & their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance‚ & the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion." (Is.34:5-8.)

IT SAYS THAT THE OWLS & THE BITTERNS & THE JACKALS WOULD INHABIT THIS COUNTRY, & that it would never be inhabited again—nothing would live here any more, except some of these beasts of the desert. (Is.34:11.) And sure enough, when you visit this city today, it is exactly as prophecy has said! Mark Twain visited this city, & said, "No man can say that prophecy has not been fulfilled!"

GOD DESTROYED IT, & HE MADE IT WITHOUT A SINGLE INHABITANT—just as He had promised! "Moreover the Word of the Lord came unto me‚ saying, Son of man, set thy face against Mount Seir, (Mount Seir is Petra) & prophesy against it, And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O Mount Seir, I am against thee, & I will stretch out Mine hand against thee & I will make thee most desolate.

"I WILL LAY THY CITIES WASTE, & thou shalt be desolate, & thou shalt know that I am the Lord. Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, & hast shed the blood of the Children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end."

WHY DID GOD DESTROY EDOM, THIS ROCK CITY OF PETRA, MOUNT SEIR? Because they fought the Children of Israel time & time & time again. They fought Israel so many times, that it's almost innumerable. So God brought judgement upon them. He said, "I'm going to blot them out & they'll never exist again!"

"THEREFORE, AS I LIVE, SAITH THE LORD GOD, I WILL PREPARE THEE UNTO BLOOD, & blood shall pursue thee: Sith thou (since thou) hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee!" In other words, these Edomites liked to shed the Israelites blood. God said, "Alright, I'm going to shed your blood!"

"THUS WILL I MAKE MOUNT SEIR MOST DESOLATE, & cut off from it him that passeth out & him that returneth." And so it is with all the enemies of God's People: They may get by with persecuting & annihilating them for a while, but God eventually catches up with them & annihilates them!

"AND I WILL FILL HIS MOUNTAINS WITH HIS SLAIN MEN: In thy hill & in thy valleys & in all thy rivers‚ shall they fall that are slain with the sword. I will make thee perpetual desolations, & thy cities shall not return: & ye shall know that I am the Lord!" (Ezk.35:1-9.)

AND SO IT IS TODAY! God made certain predictions about certain cities, & He said He would destroy them, but some day they would be rebuilt again, But He said, "No man will ever rebuild the city of Petra—it will never be inhabited again!" You see what a mess it is in some of these photos—the rocks are tumbled all over the place.

THY TERRIBLENESS HATH DECEIVED THEE, & THE PRIDE OF THINE HEART, O THOU THAT DWELLEST IN THE CLEFTS OF THE ROCK, that holdest the height of the hill: Though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence‚ saith the Lord. Also Edom shall be a desolation: Everyone that goeth by it shall be astonished, & shall hiss at all the plagues thereof!" God said that He would bring them out from these great buildings, which they carved out of the solid stone mountain. (Jer.49:16&17.)

IN ANOTHER PASSAGE, IT SAYS THE FALL OF SEIR WOULD BE WITH SUCH THUNDER, IT WOULD BE HEARD EVEN UNTO THE RED SEA! (Jer.49:21.) Now the Red Sea is a couple of hundred miles away! When God shook up Petra, with the earthquake that destroyed it, the fall thereof was heard even unto the Red Sea.

THEY WERE THERE FOR 4000 YEARS, & IT SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE THAT THEY WOULD EVER BE DESTROYED. It was still a prosperous city in the time of Christ. But it was destroyed by an earthquake, & it is today desolate & without any inhabitant whatsoever—an absolute fulfillment of the prophecies of the Bible!

ITS FORMER GRANDEUR, MAGNIFICENCE & GREATNESS ARE NOW RUINS, & where once was millions of inhabitants, there is now scarcely a sign of life! It was conquered in 636 AD by the Mohammedans. We don't know just how they did it, but God said He would bring out the sword against them & shed their blood, didn't He? So the Mohammedans finally conquered it. It was the terminus of one of the great commercial routes of Asia.

636 YEARS AFTER CHRIST, AFTER IT WAS CONQUERED, CAME THE EARTHQUAKE WHICH DESTROYED IT. 3 days journey around it‚ there are 30 ruined towns. 5 neighbouring lands are restored to prosperity, but Edom is still desolate!

19. NOW WE ARE EN ROUTE TO EN-DEIR‚ through another narrow defile‚ in the top of these mountains.

20. HERE IS ED-DEIR. IT SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN THEIR TEMPLE OF WORSHIP. This gigantic building‚ carved out of solid stone mountain, is greater than Stone Mountain, Georgia! Notice the size of the man in the doorway down below.

21. ANOTHER VIEW OF IT. See the man standing in the doorway? Look up here at this giant vase, this urn, which tops the Byzantine cupola in the centre. Deir means convent: It was the place where they had something like the Roman Vestal Virgins—where they kept their women.

MOST OF THE TEMPLES OF THAT DAY WERE NOTHING BUT ACTUAL HOUSES OF PROSTITUTION OR WHOREHOUSES. The worship of their gods included sexual perversions, orgies & horrible sins, which were condemned by the Lord & by God's Word. Yet, it was an essential part of the worship of their vile wicked filthy heathen gods. They kept these women in these big temples & dressed them beautifully. It was supposed to be the highest form of worship to commit fornication & adultery in these temples. The very thing that God had cursed to much, the Devil made it a form of worship!

22. HERE IS A CLOSE-UP OF THAT SAME URN, on top of the cupola. You get a little idea of the gigantic size by the man standing beside it. This wasn't placed up there, it wasn't built up there, it was carved out of the original mountain that stood there! This whole building was carved out of the mountain! They didn't have powerdrills‚ they didn't have dynamite. The most amazing construction in the world!

THIS STRUCTURE WAS OCCUPIED BY THE CHRISTIANS, in the early centuries after Christ, as a place of refuge for a while. Edier is larger than the Khazneh, but like the Khazneh‚ it has been cut out of solid stone & the interior extends back into the hill.

THIS URN MAY HAVE PECULIAR RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE, because it's the only part of Seir that can be seen from the top of Mt. Hor, where Aaron died.


24. A LITTLE WAY THRU' THIS GORGE IS THE HIGH PLACE, or the Place of Sacrifice, where they killed the human sacrifices in their heathen worship. They would kill these young girls out there on the block of stone. The construction of the High Place is universally conceded to be Semitic. The place is splendidly preserved, in fact, almost as though it had been in use at a comparatively recent date.

25. HERE'S A CLOSER VIEW OF THE ANCIENT ALTAR. The question then arises: Who sacrificed here? Was it the sons of Esau?—Edomites, Ishmaelites, Midianites‚ the sons of Lot, the Ammonites, the Moabites? The Children of Israel wandered between here & the Aqaba Gulf for 38 years. Maybe the high Place was used as a place of their sacrifices unto the Lord?

26. HERE'S ANOTHER VIEW of the same sacrificial altar.

27. HERE ARE SOME TOMBS on the route from Petra to Mount Hor. The claim was made that there was some religious connection between Mount Hor & this mountain, as centres of worship. That is indicated by the fact that many ancient tombs are found along the road from there to Mount Hor.

28. HERE'S A VERY STRANGE SIGHT—AN EGYPTIAN OBELISK‚ in the outskirts of this city. Who built the obelisk? No one but the Egyptians. Here we have one, but no Pharaoh ever made it: It was cut away from the stony hills, so that when it was finished, it was already in a standing position. It was not reared, it was not built, but the hill was carved out around this rock.

29. THE OBELISK & THE TOMBS, THAT YOU SEE HERE, ARE FAMILIAR WITH EGYPT; & the Israelites were familiar with them in Egypt. Could it be that the Israelites. while in this area, carved these obelisks after the fashion of Egypt, in their tombs? They had copied the Egyptian Calf. They brought with them many of the practices & customs of Egypt, sad to say. They might have copied their style of tombs, & actually lived here & used this as their headquarters for a time, while they were in the wilderness.

30. AT THE BASE OF PETRA IS THIS VALLEY—STILL CALLED THE VALLEY OF MOSES, by the Arabs. So, Moses & the Children of Israel must have had something to do with it.

31. HERE AGAIN IS THE ENTRANCE TO THE RIFT. We're now going out through the great ravine, leading to the Khazneh, which we saw before. It is called the Cleft of Moses.

32. SOME MORE ANCIENT TOMBS. Among the myriad of tombs, they point out the resting place & the dust of Miriam, the sister of Moses.

33. ANOTHER TOMB. These structures are modern compared to Moses' day, but some of the tombs might have been as ancient as Moses.


35. A CROWD LIKE THIS, AT THE MOUNTAIN OF MOSES, IS VERY UNUSUAL, & most of these are foreigners—merely tourist or trading caravans passing through. The multitudes of Midian, around the shores of the Aqaba; the Edomites, in the Wilderness of Paran; & the Amalekites, of Shur, are no more.

36.HERE WE HAVE A LONE TRAVELLER. This is an important men, as you can see, by the sizes of him & his turban. He may be en route to a nearby city‚ 50 or more miles away. Or it may be he's headed for Moses' Mountain, or on a business errand. If this camel bears up under the strain‚ well‚ Allah is to be praised for sure!

37. HERE'S AN OLD CAMEL. I don't know whether this is the same camel, maybe he was finally overcome. If he is overcome with exhaustion, then it is Allah's will, & the poor man gets on the best he can & is content.

38. A CAMEL'S TRICKS. Their entertainment is demonstrating what their camels can do, & have been trained to do. He takes his master's nose between his lips & does not bite him—which is rather unusual, because camels are noted for their vicious tempers.

MY GRANDFATHER SAID THAT THERE'S ONLY ONE SOLUTION TO GET OUT ONE OF THE THOSE TERRIBLE THORNS from your finger: When he got one of theses awful barbed thorns in his thumb, that was impossible to pull out, he took out his knife & was going to cut it out. But the Arab guide stopped him. He took his thumb & stuck it in the camel's mouth for just a few moments‚ & the thorn was completely dissolved!

THE SALIVA IN THE CAMEL'S MOUTH WAS SO STRONG, IT DISSOLVED THE THORN! So, it's one of God's remedies! My Grandfather used to say, everywhere in very parts of the world, God puts the kind of food that ought to be eaten in that particular climate, in that part of the world. God also puts the remedies for whatever the illnesses or the troubles may be there too.

39. THIS IS A VERY LOVING CAMEL, depositing a kiss on his master's cheek.

40. THE BLUE RIBBON CAMELS KISS EACH OTHER. The masters rarely ask, "How is business?" but rather, "Has Allah been good to you? Are you praying for another son?" Though they be strangers, they will generally enquire to the most intimate of domestic affairs—which would be embarrassing for the Westerner.

41. AN OLD PHILOSOPHER OF THE DESERT, a venerable sheik, offers his services a guide, & he's generally employed along this line. Since his wages are not prohibitive, he's well & favourably know throughout the Sinai district.

42. HERE'S A HOME IN SINAI. The poverty is pathetic: Many not even having a tent to live in! A fence of palm branches is often set in the ground, running north & south—& the family moves twice a day to the shady side of the fence, the only home they have—not even a roof over their heads, just shade! Their meal is often made from grinding the seeds from certain weeds, with a little wheat or barley, if they can get it.

43. THE SEASON'S CROP OF DATES‚ ALONG THE DRY BED OF A WADI or a creek, furnish what might be termed their dessert.

44. WE HAVE CAMEL'S MILK FOR BREAKFAST. Some have a few goats or sheep from which they get some milk. Camel's milk is a luxury with them.

45. HERE'S ONE OF THOSE YOUNG LADIES OF THAT AREA. She's considered an aristocrat. Look how rich she is—see her money is all worn around her beck & on her nose & her forehead! They have a crude tent‚ but the wife is bedecked with very precious jewels & coins.

46. HERE IN THIS PHOTO IS SOMETHING VERY UNUSUAL. The women are very heavily veiled & they are fond of any kind of jewellery or beads, See this thing sticking out, is that a dog's face up there? Is that her nose protruding up there? No! Her hair is wound in a very tight knot, brought down low upon her forehead, which gives an effect of a horn extending from between her eyes—& her face is behind this veil here. This is her forehead right here. Her face is hidden, after the custom of the Moslems of that area.

FEW OF THE CHILDREN EVER REACH MATURITY—either from malnutrition, disease‚ or lack of intelligent care, because most of the people who live out around Petra are very poor & uneducated. They don't have proper attention & medical care. and of course, they don't know the Lord very well‚ so I guess, they can't trust Him for healing.

47. HERE WE SEE A NATIVE FAMILY, one of the few transient inhabitants of Petra‚ here only because of the tourist trade‚ to sell trinkets to tourists.

Review Questions for Chapter 13.

1. Is Petra mentioned in the Bible?

2. Was the city of Petra built like other cities?

3. In whose lands was the city of Petra located?

4. How do you get into the city?

5. What does the word Petra mean?

6. Was the city easy to defend?

7. Why did god have to destroy Petra?

8. Does anyone live there now?

9. How many years of history does Petra have?

10. Are the buildings there large or small?

11. How was the city destroyed?

12. What is the modern name for the area around Petra?

13. Will anyone ever live at Petra again?

14. Does god fulfill prophecy?

15. Where could the fall of Petra be heard?

16. Was there anyone there in Jesus' time?

17. When was Petra destroyed?

18. What was at Ed-Deir?

19. What does "Deir" mean?

20. Did Christians ever live there?

21. What can been seen from Mount Hor?

22. What Egyptian remnant was found there?

23. What is the valley at Petra called?

24. Whose tomb is pointed out at Petra?

25. Do many people live near Petra?

26. What kind of entertainment do they have?

27. What is a camel's mouth good for?

28. Are the people of Sinai wealthy?

29. Where do they keep their wealth?

30. What do they do at Petra?

31. What is the religion of most of the people there?

32. What did God say would happen to Petra?

33. Where are some prophecies about Petra found in the Bible?

34. Is Petra a good testimony to the truth of God's Word?

35. What are some other names for Petra?