Mount Temptation

Mount Temptation

A Christian tour of the Holy Land is not complete without a stop at Mount Temptation, where Jesus was tempted by the devil, as relayed in the Book of Matthew. Although the exact location of the event is unclear from the biblical account, it is generally identified as Mount Quarantania, near the city of Jericho.

At the top of the mountain is a Greek Orthodox monastery, built around a cave where Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights. Inside is a stone on which Jesus sat during one of his temptations. Nearby is a Hasmonean fortress called Doq, where Simon Maccabaeus was murdered by his son-in-law Ptolemy.

There is only one permanent resident of the monastery, an elderly Greek Orthodox monk. Other monks join him for short periods of time. The monk hosts visitors all day long, and in the evening he leads a simple hermit's life. This lifestyle mirrors that of John the Baptist, who was also a hermit and lived in this same desert 2,000 years ago.

Ride a cable car from Jericho's Tel Sultan to the level of the monastery. Halfway up the mountain, the cars stop for a photo break, enabling visitors to appreciate the view of the oasis of Jericho below. If you enjoy hiking, you can skip the cable car and walk up the snake trail for 30 minutes to the summit. The slope is steep, and the hike is challenging, but the stunning views make the effort worthwhile.

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