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The Jordan River

Posted Friday, May 18, 2007 by Charlie Trimm

The Jordan River is part of the Jordan rift, which runs from the Hula Valley in the north to the Red Sea in the south. The Jordan starts from several springs in the north, runs into the Sea of Galilee and then eventually ends its journey in the Dead Sea. In contrast to many rivers in the ANE (such as the Nile), the Jordan was not the center of transportation and life. Instead, it served more as a barrior between two regions. The river is not usually very broad or powerful: we floated down it quite slowly on a raft once.

Crossing the Jordan is an important biblical theme. The most important instance is the crossing during the Conquest, which corresponds to the crossing of the Red Sea 40 years earlier. The grammar describing the crossing of the Jordan exhibits some oddities, which emphasizes the importance of the crossing and helps the reader to feel the crossing. The theme is reversed many years later when David crosses the Jordan in the other direction and the grammar acts the same way it did in Joshua: David has now left the land.

In modern times the Jordan is a firestorm for politics because it is a water source. Syria and Israel debate over the river and who gets to use what percentage of the water. We met a man in Jerusalem (from the Northwest) who was trying to achieve an example of peace in the Middle East through water. He thought that if the nations could agree about water, then that would provide a stepping stone for other negotations. I thought it was very interesting work and it could have good long range results. 

This is the Jordan River above the Sea of Galilee.  


Just south of the Sea of Galilee is a tourist baptismal called Yardenit. This is a place where Christian pilgrims can come and be baptized if they so desire. And hopefully go to the gift shop after their baptism to buy some Jordan river water to bring home with them.  



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