The Jordan River is a river in Southwest Asia flowing to the Dead Sea. In Judaism, the river serves as the eastern border of the Land of Israel. In Christian tradition, Jesus was baptized here by John the Baptist. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan takes its name from this river. The Jordan River is 251 kilometres (156 miles) long. The Jordan River drops rapidly in a 75 kilometre run to swampy Lake Hula, which is slightly above sea level. Exiting the lake, it drops much more in 25 kilometres to the Sea of Galilee.
The last section has less gradient, and the river meanders before entering the Dead Sea, about 422 metres below sea level, which has no outlet. Two major tributaries enter from the east during this last section: the Yarmouk River and Jabbok River. Its section north of the Sea of Galilee is within the boundaries of Israel, and forms the western boundary of the Golan Heights. South of the lake, it forms the border between the Kingdom of Jordan (to the east) and Israel and the West Bank (to the west).
The Jordan River valley area is one of the most world-famous Bible Places. The Jordan River is mentioned frequently in The Bible, about 175 times in the Old Testament and about 15 times in the New Testament.
Jordan is derived from the Hebrew word pronounced yar-dane, meaning descender. The New Testament Greek word for the Jordan is pronounced ee-or-dan-ace. "Descender" is an appropriate name for the river as it runs its course from the heights of its sources near Mount Hermon to the depths of the Dead Sea.
The first mention of the Jordan is when Abraham and Lot parted company: "And Lot lifted up his eyes, and saw that the Jordan valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of The Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar; this was before The Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan valley, and Lot journeyed east; thus they separated from each other." (Genesis 13:10-11 RSV)
At the end of their Wilderness Journey, after Joshua succeeded Moses as the leader of the people, the Israelites entered the Promised Land by crossing the Jordan River that, like the Red Sea, was miraculously divided for them (Joshua 3:15-17).
The prophets Elijah and Elisha were active on both sides of the Jordan (see The World Of Elijah And Elisha)
The Jordan River was the area where John The Baptist conducted much of his ministry. Jesus Christ was baptized by John in the Jordan River.
In earlier times, the Israelites possessed the territory of both sides of the Jordan (see Tribal Lands and Solomon's Kingdom). Today the Jordan River forms much of the international boundary between Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan.
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