ABOUT JORDAN » Baptism Site

"Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing", is mentioned in John 128 and 1040.

It is the place where John the Baptist baptized Jesus as well.

Bethany and other nearby places formed part of the early Christian pilgrimage route between Jerusalem, the Jordan River and Mount Nebo. It is the location, directly opposite Jericho, where Joshua completed Moses' mission by miraculously crossing the Jordan River with his people (Joshua 314-17).

The area has also been identified as the spot where centuries later the prophets Elijah and Elisha divided the Jordan's waters 'to the right and left' and crossed to the east bank of the river. And where the prophet Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven on a chariot of fire and horses of fire (2 Kings 25-14).

Throughout history Bethany was known by several different names Tell el-Kharrar, Tell Mar Elias, Bethabara, Ainon, Saphsaphas. Today the area is called Al-Maghtas in Arabic, the place of baptism. In recent years extensive archaeological excavations are taking place.

One can visit the remains of a Byzantine monastery and churches, baptism and water storage pools, water systems and chapels. Also identified here is the cave where, according to numerous Byzantine pilgrims' texts, John the Baptist lived. The pilgrims noted that fresh water flowed out of the cave, which John drank and used for baptism.

In the early Byzantine period (early fourth to early seventh centuries AD) the cave was turned into a church. Nowadays the remains of this church and the water channel emerging from the cave can be visited.

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