Jericho & the Mount of Temptation
Widely acknowledged as the oldest city in the world, the West Bank town of Jericho is 825 feet below sea level and located on the West Bank of the Jordan River. It is about 25 minutes east of Jerusalem and near to where the Israelites crossed the Jordan when they fled from Egypt. During the time of Jesus this was also the location of Herod’s winter palace. Just east of Jericho is the Jordan River, where John baptized Jesus.
Outside the old city of Jericho you will find the road where Jesus restored eyesight to the blind beggar, Barttmaeus. And within the old city is the tree where the tax collector Zaccheus climbed the sycamore tree in order to see Jesus as he passed by. Some believe that this is the same tree–now over 2,000 years old!
Shops located in Jericho feature Hebron’s world renowned ceramics and hand-blown glass, a tradition dating from the Middle Ages. Also many products from the nearby Dead Sea are available for purchase. Since Jericho is under Palestinian rule, you will need your passport to enter the city.
The Mount of Temptation:
In the Judean Desert, about 5 miles from Jericho, is the mountain where Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights. This is also where he was tempted by the devil. Built atop the mountain and offering spectacular views is the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Temptation or “Qarantal”. The Monastery is open to the public, including both men and women.
From the summit you will have panoramic views of the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, and the mountains of Moab and Gilead. If you decide to walk the steep path to the top it will take about 30 minutes for someone of average physical ability. Or, if you prefer, there is a cable car that can take you to the top.
The monastery is open weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It is closed on Sundays. There is no official website for the monastery.