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Jordan

The Bible

Bible Usage:

Dictionaries:

  • Included in Eastons: Yes
  • Included in Hitchcocks: Yes
  • Included in Naves: Yes
  • Included in Smiths: Yes
  • Included in Websters: No
  • Included in Strongs: Yes
  • Included in Thayers: Yes
  • Included in BDB: Yes

Strongs Concordance:

 

Easton's Bible Dictionary
Jordan

Heb. Yarden, "the descender;" Arab. Nahr-esh-Sheriah, "the watering-place" the chief river of Palestine. It flows from north to south down a deep valley in the centre 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.

It originates in the snows of Hermon, which feed its perennial fountains. Two sources are generally spoken of.

1. From the western base of a hill on which once stood the city of Dan, the northern border-city of Palestine, there gushes forth a considerable fountain called the Leddan, which is the largest fountain in Syria and the principal source of the Jordan.

2. Beside the ruins of Banias, the ancient Caesarea Philippi and the yet more ancient Panium, is a lofty cliff of limestone, at the base of which is a fountain. This is the other source of the Jordan, and has always been regarded by the Jews as its true source. It rushes down to the plain in a foaming torrent, and joins the Leddan about 5 miles south of Dan (Tell-el-Kady).

3. But besides these two historical fountains there is a third, called the Hasbany, which rises in the bottom of a valley at the western base of Hermon, 12 miles north of Tell-el-Kady. It joins the main stream about a mile below the junction of the Leddan and the Banias. The river thus formed is at this point about 45 feet wide, and flows in a channel from 12 to 20 feet below the plain. After this it flows, "with a swift current and a much-twisted course," through a marshy plain for some 6 miles, when it falls into the Lake Huleh, "the waters of Merom" (q.v.).

During this part of its course the Jordan has descended about 1,100 feet. At Banias it is 1,080 feet above sea-level. Flowing from the southern extremity of Lake Huleh, here almost on a level with the sea, it flows 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 (q.v.).

"In the whole valley of the Jordan from the Lake Huleh to the Sea of Galilee there is not a single settled inhabitant. Along the whole eastern bank of the river and the lakes, from the base of Hermon to the ravine of Hieromax, a region of great fertility, 30 miles long by 7 or 8 wide, there are only some three inhabited villages. The western bank is almost as desolate. Ruins are numerous enough. Every mile or two is an old site of town or village, now well nigh hid beneath a dense jungle of thorns and thistles. The words of Scripture here recur to us with peculiar force- I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation...And I will bring the land into desolation- and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it...And your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate' (Leviticus 26:31-34).", Dr. Porter's Handbook.

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.

There are two considerable affluents which enter the river between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, both from the east.

1. The Wady Mandhur, called the Yarmuk by the Rabbins and the Hieromax by the Greeks. It formed the boundary between Bashan and Gilead. It drains the plateau of the Hauran.

2. The Jabbok or Wady Zerka, formerly the northern boundary of Ammon. It enters the Jordan about 20 miles north of Jericho.

The first historical notice of the Jordan 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). The Israelites passed over it as "on dry ground" (Joshua 3:17; Psalms 114:3). Twice afterwards its waters were miraculously divided at the same spot by Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:8, 14).

The Jordan is mentioned in the Old Testament about one hundred and eighty times, and in the New Testament fifteen times. The chief events in gospel history connected with it are (1) John the Baptist's ministry, when "there went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and were baptized of him in Jordan" (Matthew 3:6).

2. Jesus also "was baptized of John in Jordan" (Mark 1:9).


Hitchcock's Names Dictionary
Jordan

the river of judgment


Naves Topical Index
Jordan

A river in Palestine:

Empties into the Dead Sea
Joshua 15:5

Fords of
Genesis 32:10; Joshua 2:7; Judges 3:28; Judges 7:24; Judges 8:4; Judges 10:9; Judges 12:5-6; 2 Samuel 2:29; 2 Samuel 17:22; 2 Samuel 17:24; 2 Samuel 19:15; 2 Samuel 19:31; 1 Chronicles 19:17

Swelling of:

At harvest time
Joshua 3:15; Jeremiah 12:5


In the early spring
1 Chronicles 12:15


The waters of, miraculously separated for the passage of:

The Israelites
1 Chronicles 43:3; Joshua 5:1; Psalms 114:3


Elijah
2 Kings 2:6-8


Elisha
2 Kings 2:14


Crossed by a ferryboat
2 Samuel 19:18

Naaman washes in, for the healing of his leprosy
2 Kings 5:10-14

John the Baptist:

Baptizes in
Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:5


Baptizes Jesus in
Matthew 3:13; Mark 1:9


Plain of:

General references
Genesis 13:10-12

Israelites camped in
Numbers 22:1; Numbers 26:3; Numbers 26:63

Solomon's foundry in
1 Kings 7:46; 2 Chronicles 4:17


Smith's Bible Dictionary
Jordan

(the descender), the one river of Palestine, has a course of little more than 200 miles, from the roots of Anti-Lebanon to the head of the Dead Sea. (136 miles in a straight line.

Schaff.) It is the river of the "great plain" of Palestine

the "descender," if not "the river of God" in the book of Psalms, at least that of his chosen people throughout their history. There were fords over against Jericho, to which point the men of Jericho pursued the spies. (Joshua 2:7) comp. Judges 3:28 Higher up where 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. ch. (Judges 12:6) These fords undoubtedly witnessed 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 vicinity 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; 17:22) Thus there were two customary places at which the Jordan was fordable; and it must have been at one of these, if not at both, that baptism was afterward administered by St. John and by the disciples of our Lord. Where our Lord was baptized is not stated expressly, but it was probably at the upper ford. These fords were rendered so much more precious in those days from two circumstances. First, it does not appear that there were then any bridges thrown over or boats regularly established on the Jordan; and secondly, because "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. (Dr. Selah Merrill, in his book "Galilee in the Time of Christ" (1881), says, "Near Tarich'a, just below the point where the Jordan leaves the lake (of Galilee), there was (in Christ's time) a splendid bridge across the river, supported by ten piers."

ED.) The last feature which remains to be noticed in the scriptural account of the Jordan is its frequent mention as a boundary- "over Jordan," "this" and "the other side," or "beyond Jordan," were expressions as familiar to the Isr'lites as "across the water," "this" and "the other side of the Channel" are to English ears. 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 (Banias), and passes through the lakes of Merom (Huleh) 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 form 45 to 180 feet, and it is from 3 to 12 feet deep. -Schaff.) Its sinuosity is not so remarkable in the upper part of its course. The only tributaries to the Jordan below Gennesaret are the Yarmuk (Hieromax) and the Zerka (Jabbok). Not a single city ever crowned the banks of the Jordan. Still Bethshan and Jericho to the west, Gerasa, Pella and Gadara to the east of it were important cities, and caused a good deal of traffic between the two opposite banks. The physical features of the Ghor , through which the Jordan flows, are treated of under PALESTINA AND PALESTINE.