| The Jordan River is the largest and longest river that flows in Israel. Moreover, it is the only river within Israel that has a permanent flow year round. All other rivers dry up for periods of months and do not fill up until the winter.
The Jordan River is definitely the most famous river in the world. It is mentioned in the Bible about 180 times in the Old Testament and 15 times in the New Testament.
This river which played a significant role in numerous events of Bible history is derived from the Hebrew word yarden, meaning descender. It is an appropriate name since the ten-mile-wide river descends from the heights of its sources near Mount Hermon to the depths of the Dead Sea- a drop of about 2,380 feet. Due to the twists and turns of its course, the full length of the river is over 200 miles. Its headwaters lie more than 1,000 feet above sea level, and its mouth at the Dead Sea at nearly 1,300 feet below sea level.
The Jordan River was the setting for so many of the great events in the Bible. The first mention of it is when Abraham and Lot parted company. (Genesis 13:10-11)
“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.”
Moses was not allowed to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land (Deut. 3:23-29, 31:2) but Joshua after succeeding Moses as the leader of the people, entered the Promised Land with the Israelites by crossing the Jordan River that, like the Red Sea, was miraculously divided for them. We can read this in Joshua 3:15-17:
“And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.”
John the Baptist conducted much of his ministry in the Jordan River. This is where Jesus Christ was baptized. Let us read Mark 1:9:
“And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.”
Jordan still retains the unique baptismal aura of a holy river today. The Jordan River is not only a prominent site in Biblical history, it is truly a natural phenomenon… a physical proof that shows how authentic the Bible is.
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