Zev Radovan, courtesy Yizhar Hirschfeld

The temptation of Jesus is associated by tradition with this breathtaking peak overlooking the plain of Jericho. The 19th-century monastery of Quarantal adheres to the rock face high above a dry gorge. Nearby are the remains of the monastery of Douka, founded in 340 by Chariton, the father of Judean desert monasticism.

The name Quarantal means forty, a reference to the days and nights Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and in prayer (Matthew 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13; Mark 1:12–13). When the Devil tempted him to turn stones into bread, Jesus replied (quoting Deuteronomy 8:3), “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:3). This saying of Jesus can serve as an apt motto for the many devout Christians who forsook worldly endeavors for a life of prayer and contemplation in the desert.