Day 14 – Thursday, May 18: Karak Castle, Machaerus, Madaba Map/Madaba
Today was our very last day of the trip. It was a driving day (back north), with three visits to sites along the way. The weather was much cooler, making it a nice mix of sun and 70s as highs. Following a great breakfast, we loaded the bus one more time and began our drive. We read from Obadiah 1 on the way.
Our first stop on our drive back to the Medeba area was to the Karak Castle. This site is the most impressive Crusader castle in the entire Middle East! In the days of the Old Testament, it was probably Kir Haraseth (2 Kings 3:25; Isaiah 16:7; Jeremiah 48:31, 36). It was quite massive, with high fortification walls, large cisterns for water, and deep dungeons. The Crusaders maintained control of this castle until it fell to the Arab invader Saladin. It was a fun site to explore!
About 20 miles south of Medeba is Machaerus. Originally built by the Hasmoneans and then taken by Pompey in 63 BC, Herod the Great eventually reestablished it as another “palace-fortress.” It is located on the east side of the Dead Sea. This was where John the Baptist was be-headed (Matthew 14). Many of us climbed to the top to see where the head of John the Baptist was offered to Herod Antipas (the “throne room”). On top were a few ritual baths too. Although it was hazy looking westward, we could clearly see the Dead Sea and the vicinity of Ein Gedi on the other side.
“Today was our last day of the entire trip. Jordan has been amazing, with so many great sites. Today was more of a travel day to the north. Karak and Machaerus were wonderful sites to visit. Tomorrow we all fly home.”
Your last visit took us back to Madaba (Medeba in the Bible) to see the famous 6th century Madaba Map of the region. This is the oldest map in antiquities. Today it can be displayed in the St. George Church. It was discovered in the late 1800s. The map displays not only the region of Israel, Jordan, and the Sinai, but Jerusalem is highly detailed as well. Madaba is Sammy’s home town, so we also enjoyed meeting his wife and his store.
We returned to our hotel for our last official dinner together. We all fly home tomorrow at various times. It’s been a great extension to Jordan!