The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
The Pilgrimage To Nebi Musa
The Pilgrimage To Nebi Musa,
Like many other titles of places in the East, Nebi Musa (Tomb of Moses) is "manufactured" as no one knows the burial spot of the receiver of the Ten Commandments. It is recorded in the Bible that "Moses was buried in a valley in the Land of Moab over against Beth-Peor". Nebi Musa is a Moslem shrine, and for centuries the Moslems of Jerusalem have made an annual pilgrimage there, together with large numbers of people from the surrounding country.
I saw parts of the procession on April 26th. last. It started from the Headquarters of the Military Governor, where various emblematic banners were unfurled, and the Sheik in charge repeated a prayer. The Governor then saluted the banners and congratulated the Sheik. After the banners had been saluted by the Moslem guard, with musical honours by a military band, the procession formed and entered the Holy City by the Damascus Gate, proceeding to a certain house, where it received the Nebi Musa banner to the accompaniment of prayer. Then the narrow streets were paraded to the Temple area, where more prayers were recited in the Mosque El Aksa.
By the time the procession had commenced to make its exit from the Holy City, through St. Stephen's Gate, on the east, the number of followers had grown considerably, with added picturesqueness, mounted Bedouin police in full war paint being among the most striking figures.
As the banners came out of the City a salute of guns was fired from the main road to Jericho, a little above where the road from the gate joins, and not far from the Mount of Olives. Viewed from the slope of the Mount, places of vantage along the route of the procession bore a holiday appearance, the edges of the road being lined and the hill slopes from under the eastern wall covered by hundreds of people of all classes. The dominant note was masses of black, relieved by varicoloured parasols.
The procession had to go about a mile only, and the pace was painfully slow, as about two hours were occupied in making the journey. Parties of Arabs performed dances, held mimic duels, and gave other sword displays. There were also elocutionists, and at times one would be elevated shoulder-high and entertain the crowd. At the halting place, on the top of the rise past the Garden of Gethsemane, was a marquee in which various performances were repeated for the benefit of the high functionaries assembled. Afterwards refreshments were served, the pilgrims for Nebi Musa were "fare-welled", and the procession broke up and returned to the City. The military authorities sent on in advance a large supply of water for the pilgrims.
Nebi Musa is situated a mile off the road to Jericho, on the right, and is visible from a spot about a mile from where the main road emerges on to the plains. The place does not seem to have been inhabited of late, and very probably is deserted except whem pilgrims are there for a short period. The high hill shown in the accompany photograph is of military interest, for it was charged on the other side and captured by the Scotties, whereupon the enemy fled, allowing the A.L.H. to advance along the plains and capture Jericho without further opposition.