ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia
Hebrew: Yarden, meaning: “the descender;” Arabic: Nahr-esh-Sheriah, “the watering-place”
the chief river of Israel
The Jordan is mentioned in the Old Testament about one hundred and eighty times, and in the New Testament fifteen times.
It flows from north to south down a deep valley in the center of the country. The name descender is significant of the fact that there is along its whole course a descent to its banks; or it may simply denote the rapidity with which it “descends” to the Dead Sea.
Before the Israelis channeled the river in modern times, it flowed “with a swift current and a much-twisted course,” through a marshy plain for some 6 miles, where fell into Lake Hula (Huleh), “the waters of Merom”.
During this part of its course the Jordan has descended about 1,100 feet. At the Banias spring it is 1,080 feet above sea-level. Formerly flowing from the southern extremity of Lake Huleh, almost at sea level, it flowed for 2 miles “through a waste of islets and papyrus,” and then for 9 miles through a narrow gorge in a foaming torrent onward to the Sea of Galilee. Today, however, the Jordan is carefully controlled for agricultural purposes and sometimes flows in a straight channel, minimizing evaporative loss and maximizing farming land.
80 years before the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948, Dr. Porter reported the desolate scene here in his 1868 …Handbook for Travellers…
From the Sea of Galilee, at the level of 682 feet below the Mediterranean, the river flows through a long, low plain called “the region of Jordan” (Matthew 3:5), and by the modern Arabs the Ghor, or “sunken plain.”
This section is properly the Jordan of Scripture. Down through the midst of the “plain of Jordan” there winds a ravine varying in breadth from 200 yards to half a mile, and in depth from 40 to 150 feet. Through it the Jordan flows in a rapid, rugged, tortuous course down to the Dead Sea.
The whole distance from the southern extremity of the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea is in a straight line about 65 miles, but following the windings of the river about 200 miles, during which it falls 618 feet. The total length of the Jordan from Banias is about 104 miles in a straight line, during which it falls 2,380 feet.
First biblical mention
The first historical mention of the Jordan River is in the account of the separation of Abraham and Lot (Genesis 13:10). “Lot beheld the plain of Jordan as the garden of the Lord.” Jacob crossed and recrossed “this Jordan” (32:10).
Gospel history at the Jordan
The chief events in Gospel history connected with it are:
See the Christian archaeological video which describes the Jordan River and biblical events surrounding it: On the Promised Land: Crossroads of the World (part of the Faith Lessons video series). “The same faith that caused Israel to safely cross the Jordan at its flood stage releases His power in our lives today when we commit our lives to Him in total trust.”
Article Version: September 1, 2017