The Jordan River is not very large or deep, but it has great religious and historical significance. It was the historic eastern border of Israel/Palestine and forms the current border between Israel and Jordan. Read on to discover how long this river is, along with other physical features, as well as why it is particularly important to the Jewish and Christian communities.
Geography of the Jordan River
The Jordan River runs from northern Israel, including Mount Hermon and the Sea of Galilee, to the Dead Sea. If you were to travel this distance in a straight line, it would be 124 miles. But because the river meanders through mountainous and hilly terrain, it is actually over 223 miles long. It runs through a geologic depression that puts it at the lowest elevation of any river in the world. Its ending point, the Dead Sea, is the lowest point on land in the world.
Biblical Significance of the Jordan River
In the Bible, a major story happened at the Jordan River when the Israelites were preparing to cross it from the East to take possession of the Promised Land. The river was swollen with floodwaters and formed a significant obstacle to the troops. The Bible reports that the water parted to allow the people to pass safely over, reminiscent of the earlier miracle of the parting of the Red Sea.
Another incident happened when a Syrian general visited a prophet of Israel to be healed of leprosy. He was insulted when the prophet told him to dip himself seven times in the Jordan River because in that area the river was small and dirty. Nevertheless, he swallowed his pride, followed the instructions, and was healed.
Finally, the Jordan River was where the New Testament prophet John the Baptist baptized people as a sign of their repentance. The most famous person he baptized was Jesus Christ himself. At that time, John said he heard the voice of God and saw the Spirit of God descend to Jesus. This was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as a teacher, healer, and Messiah. Christian tourists often choose to be baptized in the Jordan River to feel more connected to Jesus and this part of biblical history.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/dnaveh
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