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Another discovery was the old city of Petra.
Originally it was the home of the descendants of Esau, the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham. Because of gross religious practices, the prophet Jeremiah warned, “O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 49:16.
After the Edomites were destroyed, other nations inhabited the rose-red city until AD1200, when it was abandoned and forgotten.
John Burckhardt went to England in 1806 to study at Cambridge. While there he was asked by the African Association in England to explore the regions south of the Sahara.
As the region was a stronghold of the Islamic faith, Burkhardt was instructed to become familiar with the Arabic language and the Muslim religion. He became so fluent in Arabic, no one detected him as a foreigner.
In 1812, Burkhardt set out on his journey to Cairo, accompanied by an Arab guide. Along the way, the guide spoke of a strange deserted city hidden away among the rocky hills near Wadi Musa. Burkhardt was anxious to visit the site, but was told it was too dangerous.
Fear of suspicion prevented further discussion, so he devised a plan. It was not uncommon for Muslims to make a vow to sacrifice a goat near a shrine believed to be Aaron’s burial place, so he told his guide he wished to make a sacrifice.
Local peasants guided him, but when they attempted a short cut, he insisted his devotion would not allow it. He employed another guide to follow the wadi. They entered the Siq, a one kilometre ravine, which in places was only a few metres wide. Its rocky walls towered 100 metres above the bottom of the wadi. (See picture above at right)
When they emerged, John Burkhardt could not believe his eyes – What an amazing sight!
He dared not stop, but managed to inspect and record some of the outstanding features. When the guide accused him at gun point of being a treasure hunter, he hastily followed him to sacrifice his goat.
The buildings of Petra are carved right into the orange-red rock, giving it the name ‘the rose-red city’. Inside, the walls are brilliant colours, bright red, blue, green, yellow. Some rooms have been painted white, but most retain their natural colours.
Petra is truly a stunning, ancient city.
The critics continue to scoff, while the archaeologists find nations and cities that vindicate the pages of God’s holy Book.
A settlement was built on top of a high hill in the centre of the valley. It had narrow rock-hewn steps and precipitous ledges leading to the flat summit.
On the summit, gutters were carved into the solid rock to funnel rainwater into five huge cisterns that were dug into the rock, assuring water for the community. Ibid. ‘Petra’ David Down No.9.
Three thousand years ago, the Hittites were the most powerful nation in the Middle East. Geographically, their empire extended from the Black Sea to Damascus, and more than a thousand kilometres east to west.
But this great nation not only disappeared from history, it was lost and forgotten so completely that historians of the nineteenth century denied its existence.
The 1861 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, under the subject ‘Hittites’ contained eight and a half lines, basically a summary from the Bible.
The name ‘Hittite’ appears in the Bible no less than forty-six times. (In the KJV)
When Abraham’s wife Sarah died, the patriarch purchased a burial place for her from the Hittites. Genesis 23:3-20. (The cave of Machpelah is still revered by Jews and Moslems today, as it is the burial place of all the family of Abraham, except Rachel)
When Israel was to enter the land of Canaan, the Hittites were among the nations then occupying it. Deuteronomy 20:17.
Under siege by the Syrians, the enemy of Israel suddenly fled in terror, believing the kings of Egypt and the Hittites had been hired against them. 2 Kings 7:6.
Yet ancient historians scoffed – The Hittites are a Bible blunder. There is no such nation.
The discovery of the Hittites began with a find by Swiss explorer John Burkhardt, who noticed in the foundations of a building in Hamath North Syria, some large oblong stones on which were inscribed strange hieroglyphic writing.
He knew it was not Egyptian, but what was it?
Many years and explorers were to bring this discovery closer and closer to recognition – Charles Texier, William Hamilton, George Perrot, J.A. Johnson, Doctor Jessup, William Wright.
The finds kept coming, including impressive monuments inscribed with the same mysterious inscriptions. Still no one knew who was responsible for them.
In 1880, at a meeting of the Society for Biblical Archaeology in London, a young, but well-known orientalist scholar, Archibald Henry Sayce, announced his conviction that all these monuments belonged to the Biblical Hittites.
The critics laughed him to scorn.
Archibald Sayce had done his homework, but he continued studying, attracting the attention of the British public and the press.
In 1881, the new edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica was published and under the heading ‘Hittites’, there were two whole pages. It’s conclusion stated, “we wait longingly for a confirmation of Professor Sayce’s view…”
In 1884, William Wright published a book entitled ‘The Empire of the Hittites’, in which he had amassed so much scholarly evidence that the critics had to hide their faces. (The 1964 edition of the Encyclopeaedia Britannica contained thirteen pages on the subject)
In 1906, Hugo Winckler discovered a clay tablet in Bogazkale that spoke of the Battle of Kadesh, and the peace treaty between the Egyptian king Rameses the Great and the Hittite king Hattusilis. The text of this treaty is written on the south wall of the temple of Karnak and well known to scholars.
Studies and archaeological digs continued, until scholars could read the Hittite language. Today no one doubts the existence of this great nation. Information: ‘Digging Up the Past’ No.3 ‘The Hittites’. by David Down. Hittite photo http://rbedrosian.com
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