THE JORDAN RIVER
The Jordan River, one of the world's most famous rivers, forms a natural boundary between Israel and Jordan and is a popular pilgrimage site for Christians seeking to participate in a symbolic baptism ritual in the same location where Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. The Jordan River is mentioned multiple times in the Bible, not just in the New Testament but also in the Old Testament, as a location of numerous miracles.
On January 19, the Orthodox Epiphany, when the Jerusalem Patriarch performs the ritual of water blessing, a particular atmosphere prevails, and the devout rush to immerse themselves in the blessed water.
THE JORDAN RIVER IN THE BIBLE AND THE NEW TESTAMENT
The Jordan River is described in the Old Testament as a spot where the prophets crossed it on dry land, and the waters of this river split before Joshua Ben-Nun, who led the Israelites with the Ark of the Covenant, signaling the end of their forty-year wanderings in the wilderness. The Jordan may now be seen and dived into from both the Israeli and Jordanian sides.
Crossing the Jordan (Joshua 3:1-4:24)
The main reason for Christians' trip to the Jordan River, according to the New Testament, is the key event of Jesus and John the Baptist. After John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended to earth in the form of a dove, testifying of the Savior's Messianic mission.
The baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17)
WHY IS THE JORDAN RIVER IMPORTANT
The Jordan River is very symbolic for Jews because it was in this river that the children of Israel crossed a physical and psychological border, changing their status from slavery to freedom, and effectively ending a grueling 40-year journey in the desert. They began a new life and the construction of the Promised Land on the other side of the River.
Throughout history, the Jordan River has been a source of water from which the inhabitants of the Promised Land have been fed, even after the establishment of the State of Israel. Today there is extensive agriculture on both the Israeli and Jordanian sides of the Jordan River.
The river provided drinking and agricultural water to both sides, and Israel nearly stopped pumping water from the Jordan because its flow was so low, and Israel switched to desalinating Mediterranean waters.
Since the signing of the peace agreement with Jordan in 1994, Israel has supplied Jordan with drinking water from the Jordan River on Israeli territory.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE JORDAN RIVER'S NAME?
The Jordan is the name of Israel's longest river, which flows along the country's eastern border. The Jordan River's name means "to descend" because the river flows from the Dan River south to the Dead Sea, or in other words, the river descends from north to south.
JORDAN RIVER DEPTH AND LENGTH
The largest river in Israel. Its length is about 250 km and its water flow is about 500 million cubic meters/year. In the past, its capacity was double. The Yarmuk River, which flows into it south of the Sea of Galilee, contributed another 480 million cubic meters/year to its flow, but today most of the Yarmuk River is utilized. And the Arava River (south to north).
The river begins at the junction of three streams - Hermon, Snir, and Dan - whose waters originate from enormous springs on the outskirts of Mount Hermon. These three streams connect to the Jordan River at Kibbutz Sde Nehemia. The Jordan flows south through the Hula Valley in a constructed channel from Kibbutz Nehemia. This canal was dug in the 1950s and 20th century as part of the Hula Swamp Drying Plant and Hula Lake (before drying, the waters of the Jordan spread into large swamps and continued from there to Lake Hula).
The Jordan Canal stops near the Banot Yaakov Bridge, and its waters continue south to the Sea of Galilee. Because of its depth in this section, the Jordan has formed a canyon valley at the Korazim basalt level. This is the Jordan Valley, where the water rushes quickly, forming modest waterfalls along the way. There are some impressive archeological sites in the Jordan Valley, including one of Israel's most important prehistoric sites near the Banot Yaakov Bridge; an impressive Crusader fortress, and the remains of an ancient Jewish synagogue in Horbat Dacha, near the southern origin of the Basalt Valley, as well as several ancient flour mills.
The river leaves the Beit Zaida Valley at Horbat Dacha and empties into the Sea of Galilee about 2 kilometers southeast of Moshav Almagor. And then continues south in the Kinneret Valley till it meets the Yarmuk River at Nahariya.
The Jordan continues in the Jordan Valley, carved in the lakes and soft sedimentary rocks of the Pale Tongue, and is flanked on both sides by cliffs reaching tens of meters in height. A tangle of Euphrates oak trees pointed willow, and common reed plants develop along the river's banks. Gaon is the biblical term for this braided area on both sides of the river.
The international road from Israel to Jordan crosses the river near Kibbutz Maoz Haim on the Maoz Bridge (Sheikh Hussein). One of Israel's and Jordan's border crossings is located here. The river flows in a series of acute twists called river meanders (meanders in the north) that extend the river's route to 200 km, an almost constant flow gradient of one per mille from Maoz Bridge to the Dead Sea, a distance of 100 km as the crow flies (the river Whose length is 200 km decreases at a rate of one meter per kilometer).
The pale tongue's upright walls almost continuously accompany Jordan's genius on both sides as far as the Allenby Bridge area east of Jericho. The walls then become low and disappear. The river flows through a flat landscape of arid salt on its way to the Dead Sea. The Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea at a rate of about 100 million cubic meters per year. Until the national carrier and the Ha'ur Canal plant on the Jordanian side of the valley were built, the water flowing into the Dead Sea flowed at a rate of about one billion cubic meters per year.
CROSSING THE JORDAN RIVER
If we were in biblical times, we could probably have crossed the Jordan River alongside Joshua Ben-Nun, but crossing the Jordan River today is not possible because the river is the border between Israel and Jordan, and there are soldiers on both banks of the river.
WHAT TO SEE AT THE JORDAN RIVER
The Jordan River, like the Dead Sea, may be visited by tourists from both Israel and Jordan. The Israeli side of Jordan is more comfortable and convenient to visit, but it is also more commercialized, especially at the place of Christ's baptism. Jordanian - untouched by man, wild and pure, yet less pleasant.
The Yardenit tourism complex, located at the river's exit from Lake Kinneret, a few kilometers from Tiberias, is the most popular spot for Israelis to touch Jordan's waters. Every year, around 400,000 visitors and pilgrims visit Yardenit, the majority of whom come to have a symbolic baptism. Yardenit does not correlate to the actual location of Christ's baptism but was chosen as a symbolic landmark by Israeli officials. Every day, you can go through the ritual of triple immersion in the Jordan in a comfortable bath with a smooth descent into the water (not for free, but for 10 or 25 USD, depending on the set of services), and you can buy consecrated Orthodox cult items in the store.
From the Jordan side, the symbolic site of Christ's baptism appears plain and utilitarian: a wooden platform with three steps down into the water.
JORDAN RIVER IN MODERN TIMES
The upper Jordan became Israel's eastern border with Syria after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The Lower Jordan and its environs were taken over by Jordan and remained so until Israel captured them during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel also took control of Jordan's upper course and its sources. There was a cease-fire line between Israel and Jordan after the war ended along with the Jordan from the Yarmuk River to the Dead Sea.
The Jordan carried 1.3 billion cubic meters of water per year from Lake Galilee to the Dead Sea in the early 1960s. According to ecologists, the amount of water flowing along the riverbed each year is now only 10% of what it was previously. According to the international organization Friends of the Earth in the Middle East, Israel, Syria, and Jordan are to blame for Jordan's dehydration because the three countries are constantly at odds, with each attempting to take as much water as possible. If this trend continues, the Jordan River will disappear.
Israel and Jordan negotiated an agreement in 1994, and the state border began to run along the lower Jordan River. It was also proposed to rehabilitate Jordan, but neither side took serious steps to do so.
The Dead Sea is also suffering as a result of the river's shallows. The sea's water level is dropping by nearly a meter per year, which could lead to its obliteration in 50 years.