‘Floored’ by history – The city of Madaba

Madaba which means ‘calmly moving water’ in Aramaic is located about thirty kilometres south west from the capital city of Amman. In the Bible, Madaba, a Moabite town is mentioned in Joshua 13:9, 16 and in Numbers 21:30 as ‘Medeba’. David also vanquished an Ammonite and Aramean coalition near Madaba (I Chronicles 19: 7). His victory was short-lived, however, as in the mid-ninth century BCE the Moabite King Mesha freed the city from the control of the Israelites (2 Kings 3). This is the land that Moses gave to the Reubenites as their inheritance. Historically, at the time of the Exodus and conquest in 1406 BC, Madaba and Mt. Nebo were part of the territory of Moab.

The city of Madaba

Around 614 AD the Persian sacked Madaba and it was further ruined by an earthquake in 747 AD after which it stood abandoned for a thousand years.  In 1880 a group of 2000 Christians from Karak settled in Madaba. The Ottomans allowed the Christians to build Churches but only on the same location as the ancient Churches. The sites of the ancient Churches going back to the Byzantine period were marked by mosaic floors and this helped the Christians identify these ancient Churches. A total of 14 Churches were reconstructed which earned the city the nick name; city of mosaics.

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