On Jordan's Stormy Banks

Panorama to baptismal site copy.jpg

The Wadi Kharrar intersects the Jordan River about five miles north of the Dead Sea. As pictured, tourists, worshippers, and the curious are permitted down to this famous river that serves as an international border. Conveniently (?), access is given to the water at the same point by both Jordanians and Israelis. 

On the Jordanian side, the site is known as Al Maghtas or the "Baptism site." On the Israeli side is it called Qasr el Yahud, "Castle of the Jews."

Two biblical events are linked to the spot.

The first is connected with the the prophet Elijah. According to 2 Kings 2, he split the Jordan River with his mantle, walked across, and ascended into the sky in the company of a blazing chariot. 

The second event is connected with the baptism of Jesus. According to the gospels (see, for example, Matt 3), John the Baptist (a new "Elijah") frequented the same area and baptized the repentant. The gospels record Jesus visiting the Baptist as well

Ruins (principally Byzantine) have been unearthed in the vicinity. Some believe this may be the site remembered as "Bethany by the Jordan" or "Bethabara."

This image was captured by Bible Lands Explorer Jay Hess.


Dr. Mark Ziese, Dean of the School of Bible and Theology at Johnson University, manages the website Bible Land Explorer and teaches regularly in the Biblical heartland. You are invited to join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean Cruise aboard the Celebrity Reflection in October, 2018. See the link here for details.