Then and Now: Visit the Ancient City of Jericho!
What picture pops into your mind when you think of the ancient city of Jericho? Tumbling walls and the Israelites circling the city led by Joshua? The story of Zacchaeus in the tree? Maybe for those that are familiar with where it is situated, one may think of the Dead Sea and its stifling summer heat. While all of these are attributes to what comprises Jericho, there’s even more to know and understand about this West Bank city. To those that call Jericho home today, as well as those visiting from outside the city limits, Jericho has unique, captivating and fun sites and activities to see!
Jericho is said to be the oldest inhabited city in the world. As this is the case, there are many historical and biblical places you should check out! Taking it back to its origins, Tel Sultan is home to ruins said to date back as far as 9600 BC. One will find remains of ancient Jericho as well as Elisha’s well from the passage in 2 Kings 2: 19-22. Hisham’s Palace, otherwise known as Khirbat al-Mafjar, is a desert palace that was built around the year 734 AD by Walid ibn Yazid during Umayyad rule. It’s known for its beautiful mosaics and links to Islamic classical art. The tree of Zacchaeus is also along the route to these sites, with a sycamore tree nearby a main road to mark the supposed place of the story of Jesus speaking to Zacchaeus in Luke 19. Lastly, you don’t want to miss the cable cars that take you to the top of the Mount of Temptation where a monastery has been built into the cliffs overlooking Jericho to designate the believed location of where Jesus was tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; Mark 1:12-13). This astonishing view won’t disappoint!
Located not far from the city-limits of Jericho, thousands upon thousands of tourists and locals make their way to the Dead Sea to relax and enjoy this rare body of water and her remedies. Marking the lowest exposed place on earth, the Dead Sea provides its visitors with a buoyancy unmatched anywhere else due to the extremely high amounts of salt in the water. On your way back into Jericho from the Dead Sea, there are several waterparks and theme parks for families to enjoy. Many Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian, often make Jericho a vacation destination during holiday seasons, where you’ll find them enjoying BBQs and games at the parks. Jericho is also home to some of the best fruit Palestine can offer, and local Palestinians from around the country come to harvest fruits as a family throughout the year. You won’t want to miss out on trying Jericho’s famous dates either! They are fruits that grow on a palm trees, which are plentiful in Jericho. As mentioned before, the cable car experience to the top of the Mount of Temptation is a sight worth seeing. The view stretches out over Jericho to the Dead Sea with the Jordanian mountains lining the horizon. If hiking and walking are of interest, Jericho serves as a final destination for several hikes, the most noteworthy being Wadi Qelt. Incredible terrain and views will not leave those that tread this trail in want. An ancient aqueduct lines the path through the wilderness while passing by the majestic St. George Monastery built into the side of a cliff as you pass en route to Jericho.
While these are but a few sites and attractions that make up the ancient city of Jericho, we hope that you’ll have a better idea of what this city was and is all about. Its rich history intersects with the everyday lives of Palestinians who now call this place home. The best way to know more about a place is to visit – so come see for yourself! Bethlehem Bible College’s tour organization Ta-Shuf is designed to show you not only some of these places in Jericho, but all around the Holy Land! Check out Ta-Shuf here and plan your trip to the Holy Land!
Kamila is volunteering full-time with Bethlehem Bible College in the Communications Department. In addition to her love for writing and sharing stories, her endeavors in Bethlehem and greater Palestine involve facilitating cultural immersion programs for young adults from North America to see first-hand the realities that those living here encounter. At times deemed the “eternal optimist,” Kamila holds fast to the future hope of restoration and reconciliation of all things back to God. When she’s not writing, or organizing trips, you’ll catch her training and competing with the Ultimate Palestine frisbee team.