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Jordan's Mount Nebo Where God Showed Moses the Promised Land - frame at 0m1s.jpg

Mount Nebo & Moses Overview

Mt. Nebo & Moses Overview


Mount Nebo is in the country of Jordan today. However, it was originally part of the Promised Land. It was conquered by the Israelites and then possessed by 2 1/2 tribes of Israel (Rueben, Gad, and 1/2 of Manassah). 


1. Mount Nebo is a high mountain in Moab where Moses viewed the Promised Land before his death. It rises more than 4,000 feet or 1,200 meters above the Dead Sea.


2. It is located on the east side of the Jordan River, opposite Jericho.

3. This site is on the highest place of the mountains in this area. It fits the biblical description of being on the peak of a mountain opposite Jericho.

4. Archaeology, history, eyewitness accounts, and the Bible all support this site as the authentic place where Moses reached the end of his ministry.


5. There is no reason to dispute this site as the authentic place where Moses looked over the Promised Land. It's quite sobering to be in the very footsteps of Moses and ponder this place and site.

Historical Background

1. The word "Nebo" was a reference to the Mesopotamian god, Nabu. From this false god, world leaders would attach it to their name. For example, Nebuchadnezzar did this. It would be like saying, "god Nebuchadnezzar." Nebuchadrezzar was king of Babylonia from approximately 605 BC until approximately 562 BC and is mentioned around 90 times in the Bible, most of which is in the book of Daniel. In biblical history, Nebuchadnezzar is most famous for conquering Judah and the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem in 586 BC.


2. Mount Nebo has a long history of religious significance because it's believed to be where Moses stood to view the Promised Land before his death.


3. According to the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses died on Mount Nebo and was buried in Moab.

4. Sometime before 300 AD, a structure was built here to venerate this site. Its date seems unknown at this time.


5In the 4th century AD, a sanctuary mentioned by the pilgrim nun Egeria was built on Mount Nebo to honor Moses. This was certainly built upon the site of an even older structure. The church was finished by 394 AD and had three east apses flanked by funerary chapels on the north and south sides.


6. In the 6th century, the church was enlarged and transformed into a basilica with a sacristy and new baptistery (whose surviving floor mosaics date from c.530 AD). Soon the church was the heart of a large monastery and pilgrimage center that would thrive for nearly six centuries. The basilica still stands on Mount Nebo today and contains a fascinating collection of Byzantine mosaics. 

7. The site was abandoned by 1564 and remained abandoned and neglected for several centuries. The Franciscans bought the site in 1932 and were responsible for excavating most of the church and monastery's ruins and reconstructing much of the basilica. During this period, a protective shelter was installed over the archaeological remains to protect them. Today, Mount Nebo is an active Franciscan monastery and the headquarters of the Franciscan Archaeological Institute.


Sites of Interest

Bianchi Sculpture
The first site on the path to the Moses Memorial Church is a rock sculpture by Vincenzo Bianchi, commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II to Mount Nebo, in the year 2000. Pope John Paul II visited the Mount Nebo in holy land, and during his visit to the Moses Memorial Church he also planted an olive tree.

Mount Nebo Siyagha Memorial of Moses Stone

Just past the Bianchi Scupture Stone is a large rock commemorating Moses.


Abu Badd Rolling Stone
This rolling stone was used as a fortified door of a Byzantine monastery in the old village of Faisaliyah, once known as Kufr Abu Badd. Some say this stone may be from the Tomb of Jesus. It stands today‬ as a memorial to ‪Moses, marking where it's thought Moses stood to look at the “Promised Land.” 

Moses Memorial Church
A church was first constructed in the second half of the 4th century to commemorate the place where Moses died. The church design follows a typical basilica pattern. It was enlarged in the late fifth century AD and rebuilt in 597 AD. It has a large number of mosaics that date back to 530 AD. The mosaics have been well preserved and portray images of wildlife and hunting, a common pastime in the Byzantine era.

The church is first mentioned in an account of a pilgrimage made by a lady named Aetheria in 394 AD.


Six tombs have been found hollowed from the natural rock beneath the mosaic-covered floor of the church. 

In 1989 a new shelter consisting of a complete basilica was built over the ancient church.

The Ancient Baptistery
On the left side of the Memorial Church of Moses is the excavated Baptistery, complete with the most spectacular mosaics ever excavated. These magnificent mosaics are dated to August 531, thanks to an inscription in Greek. It also lists the three workers on this project and the Bishop when it was built. The Bishop listed was Elias.

Theotokos Chapel
This chapel was dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, and was added about 604 CE at the time of Bishop Leontius. It's located next to the exit door and was added in the 7th century, where three monastery rooms previously stood. Its apse has a mosaic of a square object that may be a vessel for the Eucharist. The floor of the chapel is paved with mosaics of plants and flowers.

Diakonikon Baptistery
The Diakonikon Baptistery inside the rebuilt basilica houses several remains of antique mosaics.

This marks the entrance to the old church structure.

The Brazen Serpent Monument
The Brazen Serpent is a sculpture situated on Mount Nebo. It has become so popula
r that it is now recognized as the symbol of Mount Nebo. It was created by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni and is symbolic of the bronze serpent created by Moses in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4-9) and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified (John 3:14). A glimpse of the serpent protected one from the deadly plague God sent.

Memorial Viewpoint
A small sign at the viewpoint has lines pointing to some of the major landmarks visible from Mount Nebo, and if the day is clear, you can see all the way to Jerusalem itself.

Ancient Monastery
On the highest se
ction of this site, the complete remains of an ancient Byzantine church and the original monastery can be seen. These were found in the excavation of 1933. The walls of this ancient monastery can be seen as you exit and go outside.

Caves on Mount Nebo

According to extra-biblical legend, the prophet Jeremiah hid the ark in a cave on Mount Nebo and said that this "place shall remain unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows his mercy" (2 Maccabees 2:7).


The Mount Nebo Interpretation Center is a small, single-room museum at this site. Inside are several reconstructions of mosaics, a Roman milestone from the area, and a number of smaller archaeological finds from the surrounding areas. 

Mt. Nebo & Moses in the Bible

1. Mt. Nebo is where the ministry of Moses ended; he looked at the Promised Land from a distance and died. 

Deuteronomy 32:48-52: Now the Lord spoke to Moses that very same day, saying, 49 “Go up to this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel as a possession. 50 Then you are to die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, 51 because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel. 52 For you will see the land at a distance but you will not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel.”

Deuteronomy 34: 1-6:  Moses ascended from the desert plain of Moab toward Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the entire land, from Gilgal as far as Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territories of Ephraim and Manasseh, and the entire territory of Judah all the way to out over the sea, 3 including the Negev, the Arabah, the valley of Jericho, and the city of the palm trees as far as Zoar. 4 Then the Lord told him: “This is the land that I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by an oath when I said, ‘I’ll give it to your descendants.’ I’ll let you see it with your eyes, but you won’t cross over there.” 5 So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, just as the Lord had said. 6 He was buried in the valley opposite Beth Peor, in the land of Moab, but no one knows to this day where his burial place is.

2. The life of Moses can be divided into three 40-year periods.

  • From birth to fleeing to the land of Midian in Arabia. During this period, he was raised in Egyptian royalty and prestige. He knew he was called to deliver God's people. During this period, he could be classified as a "somebody."

  • After killing an Egyptian in his attempt to deliver God's people by his own power and might, he fled to Midian, where he married and became a shepherd. During this period, he could be classified as a "nobody."

  • Then God supernaturally moved in his life, and by God's hand, he delivered God's people and led them to Mt. Nebo, just on the edge of the Promised Land. During this period, he could be classified as an "everybody."

3. We should realize that Moses was a godly man who was used greatly by God. He was very humble and sought to please God in everything.

Deuteronomy 12:3: Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any person who was on the face of the earth.

4. However, Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land because of a major sin he committed. This sin is often overlooked, and God is viewed as harsh and overreacting. 

5. What was this major sin, and why did God forbid Moses from entering the Promised Land after he had served God for 40 long, difficult years?


There are two accounts where God provides water from a large rock supernaturally. Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land due to how he treated the rock, which represented God and Christ. 


6. Account 1

Exodus17:1-7Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water so that we may drink!” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people were thirsty for water there; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why is it that you have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “What am I to do with this people? A little more and they will stone me!” 5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 Then he named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?”

In this first account of the rock and water, Moses obeys God fully, so God is pleased with Moses.

7. Account 2

Numbers 20:1-13: Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there. 2 There was no water for the congregation, and they assembled against Moses and Aaron. 3 Then the people argued with Moses and spoke, saying, “If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! 4 Why then have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this wilderness, for us and our livestock to die here? 5 Why did you make us come up from Egypt, to bring us into this wretched place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, nor is there water to drink!” 6 Then Moses and Aaron came in from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them; 7 then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the staff; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it shall yield its water. So you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and have the congregation and their livestock drink.” 9 So Moses took the staff from before the Lord, just as He had commanded him; 10 and Moses and Aaron summoned the assembly in front of the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank.


In this account, God is displeased with Moses.

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Since you did not trust in Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, for that reason you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” 13 Those were called the waters of Meribah, because the sons of Israel argued with the Lord, and He proved Himself holy among them.

First, we must understand that the rock represents God and Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:1-4: For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and they all passed through the sea; 2 and they all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and they all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.

8. The three sins of Moses that prevented him from entering the Promised Land.

1. He did not trust God.

Since you did not trust in Me"

2. He did not treat God as Holy in the sight of the Israelites.

Since you did not trust in Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel"

3. He acted in anger toward the people and God.

Psalm 106:32-33: They also provoked Him to wrath at the waters of Meribah, So that it went badly for Moses on their account.
33 Because they were rebellious against His Spirit, he spoke rashly with his lips.


Faith Lesson


1. Moses was very humble and greatly used by God.

What about us? Humility is not viewing ourselves as worthless but means that we rely upon God and not ourselves.

2. Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land because he did not trust in God the second time he was to bring water from the rock, which represented God and Christ.

What about us? Do we follow God in the midst of storms and pressure? It's when we're under pressure and extreme stress that we reveal the depth of our spiritual maturity and faith.

3. Moses did not treat God as holy in the sight of the people he led.

What about us? Do we treat God as holy and honor Him in our dealings with others?

4. Moses was angry with God's people and God.

What about us? Do we deal harshly and angrily with others?

5. Even though God forgave Moses, there were still consequences for his sin. We see this also in the life of King David.

What about us? Do we realize that God forgives us but doesn't always remove the consequences of our sins? Also, sometimes it takes time for the consequences to heal.

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