Mount Nebo (جبل نيبو, הַר נְבוֹ‎)

Mount Nebo


Location: Madaba Governorate Map


Description of Mount Nebo

Mount Nebo is an important historic mountain in the Madaba Governorate of Jordan. Mount Nebo raises to the elevation of 817 meters (2680 feet) and offers panoramic view of the Holy Land. According to Deuteronomy, one of the books of the Bible, it was here that prophet Moses got a look at the Promised land that he was suppose to see, but never enter. Jewish and Christian tradition claims that he died on Mount Nebo and was buried by God. Mount Nebo is a historical mountains that plays an important role in three World religions including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It is widely believed that this closes that Moses ever got to the Holy Land. God promised his people their own land, but Moses who was born as a slave was not allowed to enter the Promised land. Instead he got a small glance of the land that became known as Israel today.


Deuteronomy 34:1, 4-5

And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land from Gilead to Dan

Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it."

And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said.

He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.


In the 6th century BC Mount Nebo takes a center stage in the history of Hebrews. Babylonian armies were about to take Holy city of Jerusalem and an Ark of the Covenant had to be hidden.


2 Maccabees 2:4-7

4: It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain, where Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God.
5: And when Jeremy came thither, he found an hollow cave, wherein he laid the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door.
6: And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but they could not find it.
7: Which when Jeremy perceived, he blamed them, saying, As for that place, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather his people again together, and receive them unto mercy.


Neither tomb of Moses nor exact location of the cave where the ark was ever discovered. Nevertheless Mount Nebo was regarded as a sacred. Archeologists didn't discover any Jewish places of worship or any significant markings. It is possible that they were simply covered by a Christian buildings that were constructed here later.


Memorial Church in honor of the Prophet Moses

The first Christian church was erected here in the second half of the 4th century, around a time when Christianity became the official religion of the Ancient Roman Empire. It was found by a small group of Egyptian monks who came here to look for solitude, peace and quiet. As you enter the church you can see a Greek inscription that mentions abbot Alexis who was probably in charge of original construction. In the 5th century it was increased in size and again reconstructed in the late 6th century with the funds provided by the emperors of the Byzantine Empire. Basilica contained beautiful mosaics (circa 530 AD) and exquisite interior.

Several tombs that you can see inside were made as a burial site for important figures in the life of the monastery that eventually grew around ancient Church. Some historians and religious scholars speculated that one of these tombs might actually be the final resting place of Moses, but there is no certain way to prove or disprove that theory.

It is interesting that this place was mentioned in the account written by lady Aetheria. This Gaelic woman traveled to the Holy Land in 394 AD and her description of the pilgrimage is considered to be one of the earliest documentary writings by any woman in European literature.


These holy monks deigned to receive us very kindly; they permitted us to pay them a visit. When we had entered and had offered prayer with them, they deigned to give us gifts of blessing, which they are accustomed to give to those whom they receive kindly. But, as I was saying, in the midst there, between the church and the monastery, there flows out of a rock a great stream of water very fair and limpid, and with a very good taste. Then we asked the holy monks who lived there what was this water which was so good, and they told us that it was the water which holy Moses gave to the children of Israel in this wilderness. Then, according to custom, a prayer was offered there, and the lection read from the books of Moses, and one psalm was said; and so with those holy monks and clergy who had come with us we went out to the mountain. Many, too, of the holy monks that lived there near the water, who were able and willing to endure the fatigue, deigned to ascend Mount Nebo along with us. So then, starting from that place, we arrived at the foot of Mount Nebo, which, though very high, could yet be gone up for the most part sitting on an ass, but there was a bit slightly steeper which we had to go up laboriously on foot.



The site on Mount Nebo is open to the public. It is protected and cared the Catholic order of Franciscan brothers. Here you can take a look in the direction of ancient land of Israel with major locations identified on the map provided. On a clear day you can see as far a Jerusalem. A Serpentine Cross Sculpture erected here was designed by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni. He added a symbol of a serpent as a reference to the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt under leadership of Moses and a cross as a symbol of salvation humanity received through death of Jesus Christ.