The location visited by our groups visiting the Holy Land is located on the Jordan River not far from where it flows out of the Sea of Galilee and begins its route south to the Dead Sea. The Yardenit Baptismal site is run by a local kibbutz and is a tranquil, well designed and administered location to remember or renew your baptism or be baptized for the first time.
Christ's baptism in the Jordan would have happened further south and much nearer to the Dead Sea. That area was problematic for many years as the Jordan River also marked an international border. As peace relations now exist between Israel and Jordan, an area recognized by centuries of pilgrims is well developed on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River at Bethany Beyond the Jordan and an overlook area now exists on the Israeli side at Kasr el Yehud. Due to agricultural uses, water in this part of the Jordan River is minimal.
The Jordan River albeit small in length was once a larger river with a large flood plain, much like the Nile, north of the Dead Sea. Abraham and Lot survey the cities of the plain from Bethel and the region was fertile at that time. The Jordan was a line of demarcation for the Israelites returning to the promised land and other times subsequently in history.
1: And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
2: And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
3: And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;
4: Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
5: And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.
6: And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.
7: And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.
8: And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.
9: Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
10: 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.
11: Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.
12: Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
1: And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.
2: And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host;
3: And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.
4: Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.
5: And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you.
6: And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.
7: And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.
8: And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.
9: And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the LORD your God.
10: And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.
11: Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.
12: Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.
13: And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.
14: And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;
15: 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,)
16: 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.
17: And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.
10: And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to.
23: And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.
24: And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan.
25: And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.
II Kings 2:1-14
1: And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
2: And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.
3: And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
4: And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.
5: And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
6: And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.
7: And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.
8: And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.
9: And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
10: And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
11: And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
12: And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
13: He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
14: And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
II Kings 5:1-19
1: Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
2: And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife.
3: And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
4: And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
5: And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
6: And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
7: And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
8: And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
9: So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
10: And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
11: But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
12: Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
13: And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
14: Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
15: And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
16: But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.
17: And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD.
18: In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.
19: And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.
II Kings 6:1-5
1: And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.
2: Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.
3: And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go.
4: So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.
5: But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.
6: And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim.
1: In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2: And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3: For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4: And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
5: Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
6: And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
7: But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8: Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
9: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
10: And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
11: I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
12: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
13: Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14: But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15: And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
16: And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Jordan River - new birth
At Yardenit, the baptismal site near Tiberias, one should pause and reflect on the ordinance of Baptism and what it represents. Jesus expounds to Nicodemus that man cannot see the kingdom of God unless they are born again of the Holy Spirit. Baptism and the profession of faith that is attendant to the service is a physical representation of this new birth of the Christian. Consider John 3 and the power and love of God to send His son that the Christian might have eternal life through His blood and the quickening of the Holy Spirit.
1: There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3: Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4: Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
5: Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6: That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7: Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
8: The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
9: Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
10: Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
11: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
12: If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
13: And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
14: And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19: And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20: For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21: But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.