Aqaba The first site in southern Jordan mentioned in the Exodus is Eziongeber (Number 33-35).
They left Abronah and camped at Ezion Geber.Ezion-geber and Elath (or Eloth) were port towns located at, or near, the Red Sea port of Aqaba. They are best known for their roles during the Iron Age, a few hundred years after the time of the Exodus. These locations are associated with both King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (Deuteronomy 2:8), So we went on past our relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. We turned from the Arabah road, which comes up from Elath and Ezion Geber, and traveled along the desert road of Moab. as well as The Chronic Wars between the kings of Judah and Edom (1 Kings 9:26, 2 Kings 14:22). In recent years, what is believed to be the oldest purpose-built church in the world has been discovered in Aqaba.
Aqaba is situated on the edge of the Red Sea, opposite the Israeli city of Eilat. In biblical times, there were two cities in this area: Elath and Ezion Geber. The Israelites passed by this area on their wilderness travels (Num 33:35), and later Moses led them near here on their detour around Edom (Deut 2:8; cf. Num 21:4). Three kings in Jerusalem established a port in this area: Solomon, Jehoshaphat, and Uzziah (1 Kgs 9:26-28; 22:48; 2 Kgs 14:22).
According to the Guinness World Records, “the oldest known purpose-built Christian church in the world is in Aqaba, Jordan,” which was built between the years 293 and 303. The church is slightly older than the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. It is believed that the church was abandoned and fell into ruin between 303 and 311. It was later restored but fell into ruin again following an earthquake in the year 363.
It remained forgotten until 1998 when archaeologists led by Professor S. Thomas Parker of North Carolina State University were conducting exploratory work in the area and found ruins of a structure that resembles a basilica with an apse and aisles. There structure also had arched doorways, a narthex, a chancel and walls that are about 15 feet high. These findings helped them trace back the ancient church. At the time of its establishment, the church would have held about 100 worshipers, welcoming Christians to come and pray together.
Today, the church’s ancient ruins are preserved for people to visit. Those visiting Aqaba can easily access the site of the church from the city’s downtown area and explore all that remains of the holy place that stood in the same location many years ago.
Aqaba’s Red Sea is commonly known for its beautiful diving sites and colorful corals but it is also an important port city that is mentioned in the holy Bible. The Bible discusses the Red Sea in the verse 1 Kings 9:27 which states, “King Solomon also built ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath in Edom, on the shore of the Red Sea. And Hiram sent his men—sailors who knew the sea—to serve in the fleet with Solomon’s men. They sailed to Ophir and brought back 420 talents of gold, which they delivered to King Solomon.”
From its ancient church to its stunning sea, Aqaba is definitely a must-visit destination in Jordan.
27 And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.