Petra, the rose city, the city of romantic illusions of caravan trade, arabic mysticism and creative legends.
- Petra was not the strong city which was taken by Joab. The strong city was Selah mentioned in the time of Jehoshaphat 2 Kings 14:7 around 40km to the north, another strong city with a similar siq and vast defences, and when visited today a city surrounded by impossible defiles Ps 60:9; 108:10. It is the northern controlling point from the valley of salt for the entry into Edom opposite Bozrah to the south, Ps 108:10.
- Petra is not the place of the struck rock by Moses. The main entrance into Petra is through wadi Mujib or the brook of Moses, erroneously named after the events of Num 20:8f.
- Petra is not the mount Hor on which Aaron was buried from Num 20:23-29.
So what is biblical about the city of Petra? Following the reaction of Nabonidus to the insurrection of the people of Edom after the conquest of Jerusalem, he banished the Edomites into the Negev. There are several connections established between Petra and the Negev, and confirmation of these strong ties are supported by the inscriptions found at Petra of Aretas and Obodas. One of the kings that reigned in Damascus came from here in the time of Herod the Great. This raises a number of questions: Why were the kings from Petra ruling in Damascus? and how could they control both Petra and Damascus?
Aretas III (Philhellene ? lover of Greeks) conquered northern Jordan and Syria ca 87 BC. and consequently Aretas II became the first of a line of kings in Damascus as a result of request from its inhabitants; 85 BC. Pompey invades Syria and controls Jordan in 64 BC. In 9 BC Aretas IV, is made king in Damascus. He was endeared to his Nabatean people as seen in his other name; Philopatris . The reason the Nabateans continued to control Petra in the time of the Romans was the legacy of fierce guerilla warfare against the Greeks, and the payment of tribute to Pompey. In conjunction the conduit between Wadi Rum in the south via the biblical wadi Heres Judges 8:13 to Agrob in southern Jordan is difficult to police, and even the eastern roman fortresses were not able to control this portion of the land of Jordan. These eastern fortresses are the lime that marked the “residue of the feet” Dan 7:7 AretasIV is mentioned as the king who pursued Paul at Damascus 2 Cor 11:32 [and interestingly noted alongside his garrison, indicating a position of military strength at Damascus]
Obodas. This was a family that was immortalised in the city of Oboda in the area of Avdat in the southern Negev, and a king Obodas was immortalised as a god near Avdat ca 5 BC (only a hairs-breadth before the birth of Christ ca 4 BC!) The line of Obodas commenced as sons of Aretas II ca 90 BC. Their pagan religion was carried into the area of Avdat, and demonstrates strong connections between the area of Petra and what was later known as Idumea. Further reading see: http://mushecht.haifa.ac.il/catalogues/Nabateans/Avraham_Negev.pdf