Mount Nebo & Mispah in Limpopo
If we look closer into the location of Mount Nebo, which must have been a very high mountain as it gave a view of all of the Promised Land along with other landmarks. We see from our and other peoples research so far, it seems likely that it may have been in the Province of Limpopo in South Africa. This would have been close to plains of Moab, as they were called in the olden days, or the Mountain Range of Abarim. And not far from this mountain range would have been the meeting point of Mispah, lets dive !
Now this location of Nebo up in the Limpopo province, has to coincide with Scripture and fit other crucial geological landmarks such as the Jordan River. Now we have earlier placed the Orange River or Senqu River (but also parts of the Vaal and perhaps further up we have another great River of Ethiopia - Zambezi River) as THE main candidate to being the River Jordan. And as it happens the place named Nebo on the map today is on the East side of the River Jordan. So it passes the initial test of being in the right location. Was this the Mountain were Moses was said to have been buried by SoNiNi Himself? Lets dive.
From Mount Nebo you could see this (Deuteronomy 34,1-4):
34 Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho.
There SoNiNi showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Juda as far as the Mediterranean Sea, 3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar.
4 Then SoNiNi said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
So, lets retrace these vantage points and landmarks. Moses went up from the plains of Moab (where we find cities like Pretoria and Johannesburg, Polokwhane today), went to the top of Pisgah (presumably the largest or most prominent peak thereabout). Which was across from Jericho, which must have been a large place indeed that was surrounded by Palms. There is a Jericho today a few hours drive up from Pretoria, which does lie inside a valley (flat land not far from Lethlakaneng).
And from Pisgah (a high top towards the East from Jericho) is were Moses saw everything. The Text reads From Gilead to Dan (which we presume is/was from North to South), all of Naphtali would be down Mozambican coast towards what was to become Zululand. Then Ephraim and Manasse (which can be debated), all of Juda (parts of old Basotholand and Free State), as far as The Great Sea (Atlantic Ocean). Then Moses saw the Negev (Kalahari and towards Botswana) and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho (meaning parts of Northern and most of Western Cape). From Jericho to Zoar. The Promised Land surrounded by the Sea on one side and the River Jordan (Orange River) on the other. Carving out and making it somewhat easy for us researchers to find these now eroded and renamed borders. They are still there just waiting for the right time to be discovered.
And as Moses was beholding all this (Deuteronomy 34,5-8):
5 "And Moses the servant of SoNiNi died there in Moab, as SoNiNi had said. 6 He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. 8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over."
This bit of Scripture is very interesting, because after Moses passed there on top of the mountain it says HE buried Him. Meaning SoNiNi, the Almighty Himself buried Moses in Moab. In a valley opposite Beth Peor (we can find Mispah) somewhere in the area of Mount Nebo, but in the wilderness), and this grave is not marked but we believe it would be a place now very difficult to get to and in the wilderness.
Now if we ready our Scriptures, we see that during The Journey coming down to The Promised Land from Egypt (Nubia), they camped in Moab and near Mount Nebo. We can find some more good traces of this geography in Numbers 27,12-14:
12 Then SoNiNi said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites.13 After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was,14 for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honour me as holy before their eyes.” (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.)
We see here that SoNiNi told Moses that he would not enter the Land, because they disobeyed His command at the waters of Meribah Kadesh (which was in the desert of Zin). Now Meribah can be found on old maps, seemingly close to Botswana and Gaborone, and there were certainly several bigger waters and natural catchments in those days. But we have noticed the rains are coming back to the Land, especially in KZN and other parts of South Africa. Perhaps these old and large basins will up again, even though people have moved there does not mean there was not large lakes inland in Southern Africa.
Going back to Moses, as he was told that he would not enter the land (just like Aaron who died on Mount Hor, after what happened at Meribah Kadesh). Remember now, they came down from Egypt going through East and Central Africa, and moving further SOUTH (or North on old compasses) to the areas of Botswana and further down to Moab (Mozambique and South Africa). And here Moses was told he would die there overlooking all the land of Kanaan, so his prayer of seeing the Promised Land was granted but he would not enter into it because of what happened these verses in Deuteronomy 3,23-28):
21 At that time I commanded Joshua: “You have seen with your own eyes all that SoNiNi naNiNi has done to these two kings. SoNiNi will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. 22 Do not be afraid of them; SoNiNi himself will fight for you.”
23 At that time I pleaded with SoNiNi: 24 “Sovereign, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan- that fine hill country and Lebanon.”
26 But because of you SoNiNi was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” SoNiNi said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” 29 So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor."
We will do a separate post of the Fine Hill country of Lebanon in the future. For now we see again that Indeed Moses would be buried up there in the Mountain Range of ABARIM (eastward from todays Polokwane) and along the Kruger Park or perhaps even inside the Kruger. SoNiNi in his wisdom hid Moses grave, and hidden he will stay if it is SoNiNis will.
Now if we get into the extra biblical literature (which should be read with extreme caution as always), we do find some interesting points to the fact that Jeremia hid the Ark of The Covenant (The Tent of Meeting) and the Altar of Incense in a cave on Mount Nebo. This entrance would still be there today, and having been sealed by Jeremia, this cave would remain undiscovered until SoNiNi will start gathering His people back into the land (not counting those already in the land).
If we read 2 Maccabees 2,1-8, we find proof of this:
1 In the records it will be found that Jeremiah the prophet ordered the deportees to take some of the fire with them as indicated, 2 and that the prophet, in giving them the law, directed the deportees not to forget the commandments of SoNiNi or be led astray in their thoughts, when seeing the gold and silver idols and their adornments. 3 With other similar words he exhorted them that the law should not depart from their hearts. The same document also tells how the prophet, in virtue of an oracle, ordered that the tent and the ark should accompany him, and how he went to the very mountain that Moses climbed to behold SoNiNi’s inheritance.
5 When Jeremiah arrived there, he found a chamber in a cave in which he put the tent, the ark, and the altar of incense; then he sealed the entrance.
6 Some of those who followed him came up intending to mark the path, but they could not find it. 7 When Jeremiah heard of this, he reproved them: “The place is to remain unknown until SoNiNi gathers his people together again and shows them mercy.
8 Then SoNiNi will disclose these things, and the glory of SoNiNi and the cloud will be seen, just as they appeared in the time of Moses and of Solomon when he prayed that the place might be greatly sanctified.”
This means that Mount Nebos location, if it was indeed a mountain or a mountain Range (ABARIM) closer towards The Kruger Park, with interesting landmark sites like Gods Window and Blyde River Canyon in mind. Now wherever the true location really is - we know from Scripture that The Ark of The Covenant is still there, hidden inside a cave in some chamber. And it will stay there until SoNiNi naNiNi sees it fit for His people (Bantu Tribes in Southern Africa today) are led to the site and finds this ancient relic.
Now if we look closer at Deuteronomy 34, we see a mention of Pisgah, as a mountain and the word itself likely means peach or summit. This peak was supposed to be just East of Jordan River and NorthEast of the Dead Sea (a sea which we seem to be missing now).
If we read Book of Numbers we will find Mount Pisgah listed as where the Moabite King Balak tried to persuade Balaam to curse The Land and the people in it (Numbers 23,14):
"So he took him to the field of Zophim on the top of Pisgah, and there he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar."
This summit could not have been far from Mount Nebo or the Abarim Mountain Range. Pisgah is sadly nowhere to be found on maps today, but we certainly are able to find Mispah in this very region. Although in the middle of nowhere, it is still there as a reminder of what happened at this site. At Mispah is the site were Jacob and Laban made a pile of stone as an agreement with SoNiNi as their witness (Genesis 31, 44-54):
44 Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us.”
45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 He said to his relatives, “Gather some stones.” So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap. 47 Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed.
48 Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” That is why it was called Galeed. 49 It was also called Mispah, because he said, “May SoNiNi keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. 50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that SoNiNi is a witness between you and me.”
51 Laban also said to Jacob, “Here is this heap, and here is this pillar I have set up between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me. 53 May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.”
So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. 54 He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there."
Now we are told today that Mispah (or mizpah) in modern Hebrew has the meaning of watchtower or emotional bond... Whatever the meaning, it meant something in the old Bantu Hebrew tongue, likely just agreement or bond, with SoNiNi as the watching witness. We do remember the story where Jacob had fled the House of Laban (who was his father in-law) at night taking flocks of animals, his belongings and his two wives and their children, with the intentions of never returning. Laban became aware of the fact and pursued Jacob, and catching up with him they discussed and formalised the separation. Now Laban admitted that his daughters had left without being forced (Genesis 31,43) and Laban agreed to let him (Jacob) go in peace and make a promise never to abuse his daughters or take any more wives (Genesis 31,50).
Now after this is when they built their stone tower (the Mispah at Mispha) and if the stone pile was passed they would not do evil when visiting one another. Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha and Jacob called it Galeed. However the partitng words of Laban was this Mispah or Hep between us, is a remembrance.
As we read in Genesis 31,49:
"And it was called Mispah (Watchtower); for he said, SoNiNi watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another."
Now a place we have found on the maps of today named Mispah is not far from were Mount Nebo would have been (Abarim Mountains), an it is in Limpopo. However there was at least a couple of cities called Mispah from the Bible, and this particular Mispah was supposed to be in the area of Gilead, a region of mountains East of the River Jordan. So then, by locating Nebo (presumably in the land of Benjamin) we also find allot of mentions of Gilead, which would be another mountain region of the East of Jordan. We can find more traces of Mispah, as it helps us locate many things by finding this area today, and it would be a quote from Joshua 13,26, where the place is called Ramath Mizpeh. More sources tell us that at this location, a man called Jephthah was kinda talked into going to war against the Ammonites, and he made an agreement with the Gileadites before SoNiNi (Judges 11,11).
Now as this Jephthah made his advance on the Ammonites he vowed to SoNiNi (Judges 11,30-31):
“If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering”