Jordan River Baptism
A Jordan River baptism is a must for Christian pilgrims touring the Holy Land. Open since July 2011 to the public on a regular basis, Christian baptismal ceremonies take place on two main dates that are coordinated with the Civil Administrations officer, roughly during January and April. Great effort has been made to accommodate pilgrims with pleasant amenities, both during and after the baptism, including providing steps leading down to the river, dressing rooms, a gift shop, and restaurant.
Kibbutz Kinneret, the second oldest kibbutz in Israel, founded in 1913, is responsible for the Yardenit site. The site can accommodate 1,000 people and there are a number of baptismal pools. Private prayer sessions can be conducted south of the baptismal site in a relaxing grove of eucalyptus trees.
The Yardenit, Hebrew for “Little Jordan,” is poised at the southernmost end of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), right next to the floodgates that release the overflow of the Kinneret during a rainy winter. The waters flow all the way to the Dead Sea, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) away. For those concerned about quality of the water, it is reassuring to know that the Ministry of Health regularly checks the water purity ensuring that it is safe for immersion.
While not everyone agrees this is the actual site where the Christian Savior was baptized by John the Baptist, tradition marks this spot for many as being the authentic location and there are solid arguments which support them.
Christian Savior Baptized
The Gospel texts don’t offer a clear indication of the exact spot where the original baptism took place. Some say the true baptismal site is further south, in Beit Shean, while others favor the section of the river that is closest to the Dead Sea, not far from Jericho. But most people believe that the present location is accurate because the Gospels don’t mention a long distance traveled between the Galilee, where the Christian Savior lived, and the site of his baptism. By process of elimination, Yardenit fits this requirement.
According to the King James Version of the Gospel, the actual site of the original baptism was at a location known as Bethabara. Broken into two, Bethabara becomes the Hebrew “Beit Avara,” or, “the house of the crossing.” However, the problem is that there were numerous river crossings along the Jordan. The most probable candidate is the one closest to the Kinneret, so Yardenit is still the probable answer.
Furthermore, there is a direct connection between Bethabara and the Jordan found in the story of Gideon and the Midianites in Judges 7:24, making the link between them clear:
“And Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill-country of Ephraim, saying: ‘Come down against Midian, and take before them the waters, as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan.’ So all the men of Ephraim were gathered together, and took the waters as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan.”
How to Get to the Yardenit
To get there, follow the road east from the city of Tiberias toward the Tzemach Junction. You’ll see lots of signs pointing the way to Yardenit. There are no admission fees, and you can visit the on-site prayer chapel or tour the Deir Hijleh Monastery. Call 02-530-5511. Guided tours for groups call 02-6541255; email@example.com Call 972-4-675-9111 for hours and days of operation.
Yardenit: Did You Know?
Baptism comes from the Greek “baptizo,” meaning “to immerse.”