The first people to inhabit Petra were Nomads called the Nebataeans. When they first found the rock Fortress they used it as a stronghold for their families and their merchandise. Later they gained control of the central incense and spice trade; and then, due to necessity, began using Petra as a Market Hub because it was located conveniently between Asia and Arabia. We know about these people and what they did and how they lived because of detailed, yet sometimes hard to decipher, wall “journals”. Scribes had etched into the stone walls a history of the nomads who first inhabited here. When and how these people were driven out, or simply chose to leave, is vague. Later in the Kingdom years, the city belonged to the Edomites who we know from their battles with Saul and David. It has been suggested by Scholars that the Fortress / Safe Haven of Petra fell to ruin because Edom gave aid to Nebuchadnezzar when he destroyed Jerusalem. It is believed that in Jeremiah 49:16,
You have been deceived by the fear you inspire in others and by your own pride. You live in a rock fortress and control the mountain heights. But even if you make your nest among the peaks with the eagles, I will bring you crashing down,” says the Lord .
Jeremiah 49:16 NLT
God is speaking of Petra or Sela. Now the once-vibrant city lies as a reminder of what happens to those who harm God’s people. This city makes me think of Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings. Helms Deep was assumed to be a fortress where you could hide in times of attack; a place to keep your goods and your valuables so they wouldn’t be stolen by Raiders, and yet it wasn’t powerful enough to protect the people. In the end it was just a stone building waiting to crumble. Petra was seen as a fortress not only by the nomads who discovered it but also by the Edomites who conquered it later. But the stone Fortress was turned into nothing but a reminder of the devastation of God’s hand. He claimed he would make Edom like Sodom and Gomorrah. And he did. All Edom did was aid Babylon, but they aided Babylon when Babylon was besieging God’s holy city and God’s people and that was a mistake. God will never leave your battles unfinished, you may never even see it happen, but someday the stronghold your enemies hid in as they attacked you will lay empty as a sign of what God has done for you.
American Natural History Museum
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