Christian History Project. This site contains the text of 12 volumes on the history of mankind over the last 2,000 years written from a 'collectively-denominational' Christian perspective.

Jordan River |
River of history, river of God

Jordan River is drawn from Chapter One, beginning on page 22, of Volume One, The Veil is Torn of the twelve-volume historical series The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years. If you would like to order this book please visit

Jordan River - River of history, river of God

Jordan River - River of history, river of God
Special facilities have been provided at Yardenit on the Jordan, about ten miles downstream from Lake Tiberias. (Below left and right), Parties of American pilgrims, clad in white robes, line up for baptism, often rebaptism, in the sacred river.

The Jordan River, a stream storied in the roots of Judaism and Christianity, spans the one hundred direct miles between Mount Hermon, on the Syria-Lebanon-Israel border, and the Dead Sea, but its serpentine twists and turns give it a riverbed distance of some 225 miles. About halfway down its course it widens to create Lake Tiberias, the biblical Sea of Galilee, in whose bordering villages the ministry of Jesus unfolded.

It is not always a gentle river, sometimes crashing down through steep rapids as it descends 689 feet from its source in northeast Israel’s Lake Huleh to Lake Tiberias, and another 610 feet from the lake to the Dead Sea. Much of this happens at some of the lowest elevations on earth. At Lake Tiberias the Jordan is 695 feet below sea level, at the Dead Sea 1,315 feet below it.

In a farewell address to the Israelites, Moses, whom God forbade to cross the river himself, promised, “Hear, O Israel, thou art to pass over Jordan this day” (Deut. 9:1). His successor, Joshua, was said to have led the Israelites dry-shod across the Jordan near Jericho into the Promised Land (Josh. 3:14-17). The prophet Elijah walked across the river with his anointed successor, Elisha, then ascended to heaven in a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:18). Elisha healed Naaman, the Syrian general, by commanding him to wash in the Jordan (2 Kings 5:10).

John the Baptist, of course, brings the Jordan into the Christian story. It is he who baptizes Jesus at the outset of his ministry. Two sites where John conducted his baptisms are observed, one near Jericho called in Arabic al-Maghtas, the other near the point where the Jordan leaves Lake Tiberias. Here, Christians over the centuries have come to be rebaptized.

The river itself is little more than a stream, ninety to one hundred feet wide, three to ten feet deep. The name Jordan (in Arabic al-Urdunn, in Hebrew Iha-Yarden) means “flowing downward” or “the descending.” And descend it does, not only geographically but also through history, a phenomenon of nature focusing the attention of man on realities that lie beyond nature.

This is the end of the Jordan River category article drawn from Chapter One, beginning on page 22, of Volume One, The Veil is Torn. To continue reading more about Jordan River from The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years we suggest experiencing the rest of the book, complete with hundreds of magnificent illustrations, by ordering it at