14 Mar 2016 186 views
supporter of
atom rss 1.0 rss 2.0
web browser google del.icio.us digg technorati
| lost password
birth date
photoblog image Bethany or Bethabara
Bethany or Bethabara|

Bethany or Bethabara


We are still at the site shown on Friday (click on 'previous' on the right, above the picture, to view). This time around, I will provide some facts. The place where we were, is known as Qasr el-Yehud and is on the west bank of the Jordan river. In this picture, the river is down below (out of sight) and about 30 yards away. The furthest trees in the background, are in the Kingdom of Jordan. Just behind those trees, is a spot where 5 fresh water sources end up in the Wadi Al-Kharrar, that serves as a short tribute to the Jordan river. 


The water in this area is shallow enough to be forded. Apart from being the baptismal site, it is most likely where the Israelites forded the Jordan, before defeating Jericho (a few miles away) and occupying the land of Canaan (now Israel). The Hajlah ford is the most forded part at this site.


So, do we know for sure that Jesus' baptism took place here? In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John it is said that John the Baptist baptised in the Jordan, within reach of Jerusalem, in the Judean desert or wilderness. This is the area, north of Jerusalem, that complies to the description. We also read that just before Jesus came to be baptised, John was visited by the Pharisees to see what he was doing, because he had many followers or great influence. Then John 1:28 says "These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptising." The most original text read "Bethany beyond Jordan". Jesus came to John the Baptist, the next day, according to the Gospel. The name change from Bethany to Bethabara (which means 'house of the ford') follows the writings of Origen (A.D. 185-254) and subsequent translations of the Bible referred (wrongly) to Bethabara. Origen was a guy, interested in the etymology of place names and used that to make his decisions. There is no evidence that he ever searched for Bethany. Now, many years later, there is no way to determine where Bethany was situated. We only know that it is NOT the Bethany on the other side of the Mountain of Olives, in Jerusalem.


The early Byzantine church built a Basilica at a spot known as Al-Maghtas on the Wadi Al-Kharrar, just on the other side of the furthest trees. Archaeologists confirmed that these buildings date from Byzantine times. According to records Al-Maghtas was chosen, because it is the most likely spot in the area where John the Baptist baptised according to early tradition. That a town by the name of Bethany accross the Jordan existed in this area, is possible. Its name could have been bastardised to Bethabara, as so many other names have been bastardised, over the ages. Bethany could be Bethneh, a few km's north of here, but not close to the Jordan. But then, the Jordan is now narrower, because of water usage by Israel, Syria and Jordania. Over the ages, following flooding, it also changed its course at times.


Given all the facts available, I am comfortable that Jesus was baptised in this general area. Whether it was 100 meters upstream or downstream, doesn't really matter. All the names I have provided, are within the radius of a few hundred meters from this spot. Close enough.


The guy in the picture is leading a service in an open sided church, probably prior to some mass baptism. It was in some language I don't understand, but there were people standing around as if they are going to be baptised. And we didin't stay long enough to be sure.



comments (13)

Thank you for your most interesting words very nicely illustrated Louis!
Louis: Thanks Richard. I find these claims and counter claims quite interesting. Sometimes they are outrageous. At least, this time they are close to the truth.
This is what happens to history everywhere, I'm sure, Louis. A few tweaks here-n-there, but all in the "general vicinity" of truth? Most interesting, indeed.
Louis: Thanks Ginnie. I find these claims and counter claims quite interesting. Sometimes they are outrageous. At least, this time they are close to the truth.
  • Chris
  • England
  • 14 Mar 2016, 07:25
This is really interesting spiritual and historical stuff Louis
Louis: Thanks Chris. It is documented that the guy who started the claim that the baptism took place on the west bank of the river, was scared to go to the eastern side. Scared of the Arabs. Some 300 years ago. But, like I said, it is all about 30 odd yards, whether it was west or east.
  • Astrid
  • Netherlands
  • 14 Mar 2016, 07:34
This is a wonderful picture and he looks so 'in trance' with what he is going to say. Wonderful.
Wonderful POV.
Louis: Thank you Astrid. I believe he was praying. But I can't say for sure, as I didn't recognise the language.
What an experience for you Louis, very powerful and fascinating.
Louis: Thank you gutteridge. Definitely a great experience.
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 14 Mar 2016, 07:45
The priest seems to be in trance - I once experienced a baptism of Baptists in the Jordan river.
Louis: A lot of baptising happens daily in that river, Philine. I believe the priest was praying. But I can't say for sure, as I didn't recognise the language.
A place of great significance, even if it is give or take a few hundred yards
Louis: So it is, and the yards don't matter. Heck, how many times do they have to use 'look again' to determine exactly which side of the rope, the cricket ball landed smile
Did you take home water from the river?
Louis: No, I didn't. But, since we have drought in my country, maybe I should have smile
Thanks for all the information Louis, I think it is fairly certain safe to say that at least this holy site is for real, give or take a few yards either way.
Louis: My pleasure to share, Brian. Give or take a few yards, yes smile
Thanks for the excellent picture and the research... my guess is the preacher spoke Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke.
Louis: Thanks Larry. If he spoke Aramaic, I should have had my son there. He studied the language. Now I am wondering, why you are thinking of Aramaic. For myself, I thought the group came from somewhere around Ethiopia - but again, I can't say for sure.
the place where he is standing is one where he should keep his eyes closed, Louis. fascinating text.
Louis: Thank you Ayush. Good interpretation - I think.
Interesting stuff, Louis.
Louis: Information (including contradictions) abound in such a place where people lived for thousands of years.
  • Ray
  • Thailand
  • 17 Mar 2016, 14:01
It is a great shot, Louis.
Louis: Thank you Ray

Leave a comment

must fill in
[stop comment form]
for this photo I'm in a any and all comments icon ShMood©
camera COOLPIX P500
exposure mode shutter priority
shutterspeed 1/400s
aperture f/5.5
sensitivity ISO160
focal length 60.5mm
Endurance photographerEndurance photog...
On FridayOn Friday