Monastery of the Temptation
The Monastery of the Temptation is a Greek-Orthodox monastery located on a cliff above Jericho. By local Christian tradition this is the site where Jesus spent forty days and nights after his baptism, resisting the temptations of Satan (Mat. 4:1-11). The Gospel records the event taking place on the highest mountain, and right after Jesus was baptized at the Jordan river. The Baptism site is east of Jericho, and the hilltop above the monastery is the highest mountain above Jericho. It was first built by the Hasmoneans. In the 2nd as fortress named Dok or Douka. In 340 CE Christian monks established a monastery at the site, utilizing the caves on the adjacent cliff overlooking Jericho. Although the term “highest mountain” fits the top of the cliff better, the caves below were developed into a monastery that preserved the memory of the satanic temptation. In Arabic the site is called Deir Al-Quruntal or simply Quarantal. This is a mispronunciation for the Latin word Quarantena, meaning “forty”, the number of days Jesus fasted.
Touring the Monastery of the Temptation
The monastery can be from the outskirts of Jericho, either by a footpath or by a cable car that brings visitors in comfort to the site. It’s lower station is near the mound of ancient Jericho. When it takes off, it soars right above the mound of ancient Jericho. The upper station includes a café. It is a great to stop and appreciate the Biblical views and panoramas. Although the Greek Orthodox monastery is on a narrow, high cliff, the parapet feels wide and comfortable to walk on. Within the monastery is a rock believed to be where Jesus sat when confronting Satan’s temptation.
Why did the temptation take place here?
One my very first visit to the site, back in the 1990’s, a local monk explained to me that he believed this site was chosen by Satan because it overlooks the oldest city in the world, Jericho. And in his opinion, the city is the source of most temptations. A city is where people are exposed to material and social evils, the type of temptations a monk resists every day by living in an isolated monastery. In his opinion, Jesus too saw Jericho from this cliff, but resisted the temptations it represented, as offered to him by Satan himself. D.H.