After being baptized by John the Baptist Jesus retreated to the wilderness to meditate and fast, the mountain on which Jesus is believed to have spent the 40 days and 40 nights of spiritual contemplation is called the Mount of Temptation. The Mount of Temptation is also known as Mount Quarantania and Jabel Quruntul from the Latin word for forty in reference to the forty days Jesus fasted on the mountain.
Location of the Mount of Temptation
The Mount of Temptation is located about 3km north-west of Jericho which is about 58km east of Jerusalem, Israel. The mountain is in the Judean Desert and overlooks the Jordan Valley.
Why the Mount of Temptation
The Mount of Temptation is mentioned in the Gospels of Mark (1:12-13); Luke (4:1-13) and Matthew. In the Gospel according to Matthew (4:1-4) we learn of Jesus’ encounter with Satan on the Mount. Satan tempted Jesus twice on the mount, once he tempted the hungry Jesus to turn stones into bread; Jesus refused and was instead fed by angels. The location of this temptation is believed to be in a grotto within the Monastery of Temptation. Again Jesus was tempted this time on the mountain top where Satan looked out over the land below and said to Jesus:”All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Jesus was not tempted and replied:”Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him alone shalt thou serve.” The concept of lent arose from the 40 days and 40 nights Jesus fasted on the Mount of Temptation.
The Monastery of Temptation
The Greek Orthodox Monastery of Temptation was originally inhabited by Byzantine monks in the 6th century AD who were attracted to the mount by its religious significance, precious water source, convenient 30-40 natural caves, beautiful views and isolated surroundings. Originally the monks lived in the natural caves using them for chapels, rooms and even water reservoirs. Today 3-6 monks live here in the monastery also known as Dair Quruntul or Jabal Qarantal Monastery under the auspices of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem.
The monastery was built over a former Hasmonean fortress and 12th century Crusader church. The Crusaders built two churches on the mount, one in each of the spots where Jesus was tempted by Satan. The present early 19th century (ca.1895) Monastery is carved into the precipitous rock face of the mountain 350 meters above sea level and there are individual caves used by the monks for solitary meditation.
The primary point of interest in the Monastery is the small cave chapel where Jesus is thought to have slept and meditated during his fast. The Quarantal or Holy Grotto of the Temptation of Christ contains a small alter under which is a slab of exposed stone where Jesus is thought to have sat. It is necessary to wear modest clothing when visiting the monastery and tours are conducted by the resident monks.
Visiting the Mount of Temptation
It’s a 5 minute cable car ride from Tel Jericho at the foot of the mountain to the summit of the Mount of Temptation, on the way up you can see the city of Jericho, farms, the Dead Sea, and breathtaking views. By foot it will take you half an hour to climb the mountain.
While on the Mount of Temptation take in the panoramic view of the Jordan Valley and surrounding areas; visit the Monastery of Temptation and take a look at the ruins of a Roman fortress- Al Doq constructed to guard the valley below.