Jericho PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephen Langfur
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The Oldest City
Archaeological Debate
Mount of Temptation
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Jericho Road

The Mount of Temptation

After baptizing Jesus, John is arrested. Jesus, taking over from him, does not immediately go up to Galilee to start his public mission. Rather, he is led by the spirit into the desert, where the devil tempts him.

Standing on the tell of ancient Jericho and looking west, we see a cliff. A monastery is built into it. This is Qarantal ("the forty"), the Monastery of the Temptation. In its present form it dates to 1887. Byzantine monks first founded a monastery here, which they named "Dakun," after the earlier Hasmonean fortress here, called "Dok" (Aramaic for "viewing point"). In the chapel near the altar is a rounded piece of the bedrock, resembling a loaf of bread. It was this, perhaps, that attracted the tradition of Matthew 4:1-3.

Six Greek Orthodox monks live in the monastery today. As the name implies, the view is grand. One might see "all the kingdoms of the world." Check the opening hours on the sign below before you climb. The monastery requires modest dress .

Above Qarantal, on top of the cliff, is a wall. Because the first temptation was already located here, the place also attracted the third, in which "the Satan" (meaning, in Hebrew, the adversary) shows Jesus the kingdoms. The Greek Orthodox built this wall in the hope of founding a monastery here, but their money came largely from Russia, and in 1917 it dried up.

The wall, however, sits on the ruins of the Hasmonean (later Herodian) fortress, Dok. Its function was to guard the link road , for beneath it an unbroken ridge leads up toward the central plateau of the hill country. Dok was the scene of a gruesome event during the reign of the Hasmoneans, as reported in Josephus.

Herod's desert forts

To the left of Qarantal, we see caves. Here archaeologists found the skeletons of 38 Jewish rebels, all sharing a genetic defect in the teeth (hence probably relatives) who had taken refuge in the caves at the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt. The Romans probably built a fire in the mouth of the cave and smoked them to death.

Above these caves are the antennas of Israel's army, performing the same guard duty as the ancient fortress. In the words of George Adam Smith, "History does not repeat itself without explaining itself, and the explanation is usually geographical."