The road from Jericho to Jerusalem, with its flourishing oasis, was a strategic crossroads in the road network of the ancient Holy Land. The road leading to and from Jericho—used by merchants, armies, and pilgrims—has been important throughout history. The Jewish historian Josephus (A.D. 37–93) explained that the first-century road was approximately one hundred and fifty Roman stadioi, or about eighteen miles long.
The Jericho-Jerusalem Road in the Bible
The strategic and historic importance of the route reaches well back into Israelite history. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho is discussed in several biblical narratives. One of the more famous accounts (2 Sam 15.23–16.14) chronicles the story of David and his followers who escaped Jerusalem along this route after David’s son Absalom had declared himself king. King Zedekiah of Judah used the road when he tried to escape the advancing Chaldeans in 586/587 B.C.
Josephus tells us that the Tenth Roman Legion used this Jericho‑Jerusalem road on their way to besiege Jerusalem in A.D. 69.
Road from Jericho to Jerusalem from the Air
The road from Jericho to Jerusalem explained using aerial video and photographs. Hiking the Jericho Road. *There is a mistake in the narration. At 6:00 minute, the statement “the modern highway starts up, out of the Og Canyon…”, is incorrect. The video clip shown there is from lower down the road (east) before the modern highway arrives to the “Adummim crest”. The video clip starting at 6:44 is the modern highway coming out of the Og Canyon, as stated.
There are some particularities about the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. A person walking from Jerusalem to Jericho would be “going down” in elevation and leaving a semi-dry area for a totally barren and parched one. The trip between Jerusalem (approximately twenty-five hundred feet above sea level) and Jericho (some eight hundred twenty-five feet below sea level) would have been about 18 miles, and in that distance, travelers would have descended more than half a mile in elevation. The majority of those 18 miles would be in desert-like conditions.
The steep and confined slope encouraged the formation of a “rain-shadow.” While Jerusalem received about twenty inches of rainfall a year and experienced a Mediterranean climate, Jericho received only eight inches of rain a year and was more African in its climatic orientation.
Jericho – Tel es–Sultan is an ancient town—the oldest continually-inhabited city in the world, in fact—and it sits in the Dead Sea valley below the elevated range that holds Jerusalem. During the Hellenistic-Roman period, Jericho was a winter resort for rulers and rich people. Herodian Jericho was flourishing with the construction of numerous villas, the cultivation of date palms, and the production of wine, spices, and perfumes. Jericho is an oasis situated in the midst of a desert; it would have been desert itself except for the presence of the water source commonly referred to as “Elisha’s Spring.”
The Mosaics Museum – Museum of the Good Samaritan
The Good Samaritan Museum is one of the largest in the world devoted to mosaics. Displays both indoors and outdoors include mosaics from Jewish and Samaritan synagogues, as well as from Christian churches, in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Good Samaritan Inn – Khan al-Hatruri
The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is commemorated today by a building known as the Good Samaritan Inn, or Khan al-Ahmar. This building is an Ottoman hostel (caravanserai) located on the south side of the main highway from Jericho to Jerusalem, 10 km east of Jerusalem, on the site of an earlier, sixth-century Byzantine inn. The earliest archaeological findings on the site date back to the days of the Second Temple period (first century C.E.).
Wadi Qelt – Nahal Prat – Naḥal Faran is a valley, riverine gulch or stream originating near Jerusalem and running into the Jordan River near Jericho, shortly before it flows into the Dead Sea.
Three kilometers east of the Good Samaritan Inn, a narrow path to the left leads to the Wadi Qelt, a natural rift in the hills between Jerusalem and Jericho where the renowned Byzantine Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George stands along with the aqueduct and water system of the Hellenistic-Roman period.
Arab Period – Nabi Musa
After the Arab conquest in 638 the Jerusalem-Jericho road became one of the main routes used by the Arab travelers in their pilgrimages to Mecca (hajj). Pilgrims passed by the place of the Mausoleum of Moses (Maqam an-Nabi Musa) and nearby Maqam Hasan al-Ra‘i (tomb of Moses’ shepherd), traditionally the first stop on the caravan road to Mecca. (Originally, it was simply a point from which pilgrims could look across the Jordan Valley and catch a glimpse of Mount Nebo, where the tomb of Moses was thought to be located.) The Mamluk sultan Baybars al-Bunduqdari built a many-domed building there in 1269, and it was soon confused with Moses’s tomb itself.
Ascent of Blood – tal `at ed-damm
Ascent of Adummim: Adummim means red objects, which in this case most likely referred to the red rock found at the site.
The Laura of Euthymius was a laura founded by Saint Euthymius the Great (377–473) in 420. The site is east of Mishor Adumim, the industrial zone of Ma’ale Adumim.
Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge east of and adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City. It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. The southern part of the Mount was the Silwan necropolis, of the ancient Judean kingdom. The mount has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and holds approximately 150,000 graves, making it central in the tradition of Jewish cemeteries. A traveler departing Jerusalem on this road first circled past the Mount of Olives.
Bethany is located on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. The road then skirted past Bethany and proceeded forward by way of a rather sharp descent.
The Kidron Valley separates the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives.