Friday, December 4, 2009

Bethany Beyond the Jordan

After leaving the Dead Sea, we continued on our Biblical journey, heading first for Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the baptismal site of Jesus. Theologians have argued for years concerning the exact location of where John the Baptist met and baptized Jesus. For years it was thought to have been in Israel, right across the River Jordan, however, after much research and review of literature and the bible and any records they could find, it was finally determined that the site of the Baptism was actually in Jordan, roughly 200 meters from the current flow of the river (the River Jordan divides Israel and Jordan). They found the church of John the Baptist (created much later and now reconstructed) built immediately next to the spot. It was quite emotional experience for many of the people there.

 The river, of course, has changed over time, and the farmers and cities above draw off the water, so it no longer flows as it did 2000 years ago and sadly, I must say it does not resemble the river I have always pictured. The point where we were able to step into the river was only about 1 meter across. You could see the steps leading down to the water on the Israeli side - the Jordan side was much less developed with only a wooden platform. They actually still do baptisms there, though the water is fairly polluted. The Israeli side was close enough to almost touch though the soldiers were there to prevent any crossings – from either side. All is not calm on this front, even though there is indeed a treaty between the two countries.

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