Jebel al-Madhbah, Aqaba, Jordan | CruiseBe
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Jebel al-Madhbah

Natural sights
mountain, nature beauty

Jebel al-Madhbah (Arabic: جبل المذبح‎, Jabal al-Madhbaḥ) is a mountain at Petra, in present-day Jordan, which a number of scholars have proposed as the Biblical Mount Sinai, beginning with Ditlef Nielsen in 1927. The top of the original peak was carved away destroying evidence of whatever earlier structures had been located there.

The name Jebel al-Madbah means mountain of the altar, and is well deserved since its summit is covered in rock-excavated ceremonial structures reached by a rock staircase. The French historian Maurice Sartre noted that the peak "consists of a vast rectangular esplanade hollowed out in such a way that the sides formed benches; in the middle of one long side, a natural podium (motab) was set aside for placing the gods’ sacred stones. Another section was reserved for the altar. Cisterns, fed by rainwater, were used for ablutions and cleaning. Beneath this, two gigantic obelisks, carved out of the rocky mass, appear as sacred stones."

The mountain is over a thousand metres high, but a rock staircase winds its way from the top down to the valley below; the valley in which Petra resides is known as the Wadi Musa, meaning valley of Moses. At the entrance to the Siq is the Ain Musa, meaning spring of Moses; the 13th-century Arab chronicler Numairi stated that Ain Musa was Meribah, the location where Moses had brought water from the ground, by striking it with his rod.


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