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People's Dictionary of the Bible

Jordan

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Jordan (jôr'dan), the descender, called "the river," Genesis 31:21; Joshua 1:11, has a course of little more than 200 miles, from the foot of Anti-Lebanon to the head of the Dead sea—136 miles in a straight line. It is the river of the great depressed valley of Palestine—the "descender," if not "the river of God" in the book of Psalms. There were fords opposite Jericho, to which the men of Jericho pursued the spies. Joshua 2:7; compare Judges 3:28. Higher up were the fords or passages of Bethbarah, where Gideon lay in wait for the Midianites, Judges 7:24, and where the men of Gilead slew the Ephraimites. Judges 12:6. At one of these fords was made the first recorded passage of the Jordan in the Old Testament. Genesis 32:10. Jordan was next crossed, over against Jericho, by Joshua. Joshua 4:12-13. From their nearness to Jerusalem the lower fords were much used. David, it is probable, passed over them in one instance to fight the Syrians. 2 Samuel 10:17; 2 Samuel 17:22. Thus there were two or more places at which the Jordan was usually forded; and it must have been at one of these, if not at both, that baptism was afterwards administered by John the Baptist, and by the disciples of our Lord. Our Lord was baptized probably at the ford near Bethabara or Bethany. The rains and the melting of the snows on Lebanon caused it to rise and flood the valley. "The Jordan overflowed all his banks all the time of harvest." Joshua 3:15. The channel or bed of the river became brimful, so that the level of the water and of the banks was then the same. The bridges over the river did not exist in early times, although there are evidences of one near the lake of Galilee in the Roman period, and perhaps in the time of Christ. See Galilee, by S. Merrill. In the scriptural accounts of the Jordan it is frequently mentioned as a boundary: "over Jordan," "this" and "the other side," or "beyond Jordan," were expressions familiar to the Israelites. In one sense, indeed, that is, in so far as it was the eastern boundary of the land of Canaan, it was the eastern boundary of the promised land. Numbers 34:12. The Jordan rises from several sources near Panium (Bâniâs), and passes through the lakes of Merom (Hûleh) and Gennesaret. The two principal features in its course are its descent and its windings. From its fountain heads to the Dead sea it rushes down one continuous inclined plane, only broken by a series of rapids or precipitous falls. Between the Lake of Gennesaret and the Dead sea there are 27 rapids. The depression of the Lake of Gennesaret below the level of the Mediterranean is 653 feet, and that of the Dead sea 1316 feet. The whole descent from its source to the Dead Sea is 3000 feet. Its width varies from 45 to 180 feet, and it is from 3 to 12 feet deep.—Schaff. The only tributaries to the Jordan below Gennesaret are the Yarmûk (Hieromax) and the Zerka (Jabbok).


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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Jordan'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/rpd/j/jordan.html. 1893.

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