Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ayn Mousa, Jordan--the Spring of Moses

Several years ago, Candace, Audrey, and I, amateur archaeologists, took a weekend off from excavating near Amman, Jordan, and visited the ancient city of Petra, where building facades and interiors are carved from the red sandstone of a dry, desert canyon. Boys pointed to their donkeys and asked, “Taxi, Madame?” Audrey and Candace hiked to the top, while I walked downhill in the morning, saving the uphill return journey, in the July afternoon heat, for a camel-taxi. (Hey, I wasn't born and raised in the hot Arizona desert for nuthin!)

Near Petra, we saw the tan, barren, rolling hills where Moses and the Israelite multitude spent 40 years camping, grazing their flocks, collecting manna, living, and dying. From an air-conditioned car we saw the black goat-hair Bedouin tents, and laundry drying on rope lines, as they’ve done for thousands of years.

Crowne Plaza Resort pool at Wadi Mousa, Petra, Jordan.
 After being on our dig for only a few weeks, we were thrilled to have hot showers, toilets, delicious meals, and bug-free beds in our hotel, the Crowne Plaza. There was such luxury after a few weeks of dirt and squalor that we felt like rednecks who had just fallen off the turnip truck. After 10 pm, we slipped out to the pool for a night swim—and what bliss!

Just beginning our return journey to Amman, we found a sign that read “Ayn Mousa, the Spring of Moses.” For several thousand years, predating Muslim times, this has been thought to be the place where Moses struck the rock for water, though God had told him to speak to it. Water gushed from the rock nevertheless, and the Israelites were saved yet again by God’s grace. (see story in Numbers 20:7-12.)

Ayn Mousa is a block building with a paved floor. It backs up to the base of a cliff, a boulder juts from the floor, and a stream of cool, fresh water pours from the base. (We drank some—it was sweet.) That water supplies the town around Petra, including our hotel and its pool. When we asked our supervising archaeologists if this was truly the Spring of Moses, they said probably not, but—who knew?—it could be the place.

I hope it is the same place, with its miraculous water flowing steadily for 3,200 years. I like the idea that at the hotel pool we were swimming in God’s grace, being cooled, refreshed, and exhilarated after our exertions.

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you…have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
Philemon 1:7 NIV

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