It may not be widely known, but Jordan is a country with biblical history. One of the most famous biblical kingdoms, Gilead, was in Jordan, as well as the kingdom of Moab. The Bible rarely mentions Jordan directly, but there are a few biblical events that happened in Jordan. Perhaps the most significant was the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. The Israelites had to cross through Jordan to get to the Promised Land, though they ran into some trouble with the kingdom of Edom. Moses could only see the Promised Land from the top of Mount Nebo, where he died. Jordan is significant in the Bible, yet rarely discussed. The only time Jordan is ever discussed is when it comes to the Jordan River. Even today, thousands of people flock to the Jordan River to be baptized. With it being the site of so much biblical history, there are numerous biblical sites to visit in Jordan. By visiting the following sites, you’re able to travel through time and walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Visit these sites and indulge into the life of Jesus and other biblical characters. You may be surprised and learn something new.
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is a substantial body of water that sits near the southern end of Jordan. It is given multiple names like the Salt Sea, for its high amount of salinity, the Sea of Arabah, and the Eastern Sea. Archaeologists believe that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah happened near the Dead Sea. During the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asked that he and Lot be spared because they were righteous. God told them to leave, but don’t look back. Lot’s wife didn’t heed God’s word, so it is believed that she was turned into a pillar of salt, like those that sit near the Dead Sea. When David ran from King Saul, he took refuge in a town near the Dead Sea called En Gedi. Ezkiel also prophesized that the Dead Sea would turn into a river of life flowing from the throne of God; Ezekiel chapter 47, verses 8-12 described a river that was filled with fish and fishermen would flock to this river; there would be fruit trees on both sides of the bank and their leaves would serve for healing purposes. In modern times, the Dead Sea is believed to be shrinking due to water evaporating faster than the inflow from the Jordan River and other bodies of water can replace.
Sea of Galilee
A lot of the events of Jesus’ earthly life happened in Galilee and in places near the Sea of Galilee. The prophet Isaiah also prophesized that the Messiah would come from Galilee. Jesus, coming from Nazareth, ultimately fulfilled that prophecy. Perhaps the most famous story of the Sea of Galilee is when Jesus walked on water. Jesus asked Peter to get out of the boat and come towards him. Skeptically, Peter did so but when he took his eyes from Jesus, he started to go under. Once he kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to successfully walk towards him. Jesus also taught by the shore and even preached a sermon on a boat. Matthew chapter 13, verse 2 describes crowds gathering around Jesus so he got on a boat and sat down. People then gathered on the shore just to hear his word. Sick people would come to the sea of Galilee in order to be healed and to visit the medicinal springs in Tiberias. Matthew 9:2-8 describes a paralyzed man being brought to Jesus on a bed; Jesus told the man his sins were forgiven and that he could rise and walk. Some gathered around said this was blasphemous, but the paralyzed man got up and walked home. When the crowds saw this, they were scared and gloried God.
The city of Petra is never mentioned in the Bible as Petra. Rather it’s referred to as Sela, which means rock in Hebrew. The city is described as carved into sandstone cliffs and sits about 50 miles west of the Dead Sea. In biblical times, it was the land of the Edomites, descendants of Esau. It was Edom who refused to let the Israelites pass through their land on their way to Canaan. This event is documented in Numbers 20: 18-21; Edom wouldn’t let the Israelites pass through and threatened them with a sword. The Israelites then asked again if they could just pass through on foot, and Edom still refused, coming against them with a substantial army. After this incident, Israel turned away from Edom. King Saul and David both fought the Edomites. During King Jehoshaphat’s reign, Edom invaded Judah and was deterred. It wasn’t until King Amaziah defeated Edom and took control of Petra and renamed it Joktheel. Today, Petra sits empty and in ruin, as prophesized in Jeremiah 49:18. This verse says that since Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown, along with their neighboring towns, no one will live there, and no people will dwell in it.
Tomb of Aaron
Aaron is Moses’ older brother. When God told Moses to go to Egypt and free his people, Moses questioned him, saying that he was not the best person for the job and that someone else should be sent in his place. Then God brought his brother Aaron, saying that Aaron was on his way to meet him, and that Aaron would be his spokesperson. At the same time, God also spoke to Aaron and told him to meet Moses in the wilderness. Moses shared God’s instructions and Aaron went along with it. Fast forward to when Moses went into the mountain and Aaron was put in charge; things didn’t go too well. When the people got tired of waiting for Moses to come back down, they asked Aaron to make them a god. Without hesitation, Aaron asked for their gold jewelry, formed it in the shape of a calf, and made an idol. When Moses heard what was going on, he got mad and came down from the mountain and scolded Aaron. Fast forward to when Aaron and his sons were appointed by God to be priests for the people and Aaron was the first high priest. God told Moses that the priesthood would belong to Aaron and his descendants by lasting ordinance. Although they entered the priesthood, God killed two of Aaron’s sons when they offered unauthorized fire to the Lord against his command. Instead of questioning or fighting God, Aaron simply accepted his sons’ fate.
Lot is first mentioned in Genesis, when he and his brother Abraham were partitioning off land for themselves. Lot chose the Jordan Valley because he saw the potential of what could be. He saw the lush land and even attempted to take advantage of it. During the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and Abraham asked God if he would spare them since they were righteous. God agreed on the condition that they run and not look back. Unfortunately for Lot’s wife, she looked back and was turned into a pilar of salt. Even in modern times, the pillars of salt in Jordan are still visible. Genesis 19:30-38 describes how Lot and his family lived in a cave after escaping Sodom. One night when Lot got drunk, his daughters seduced him and both conceived and had children. His oldest daughter named her son Moab, which is where the Moabites came from and his youngest daughter named her son Ben-ammi, where the Ammonites came from.
Mount Nebo is described as a high mountain in Moab that sits east of the Jordan River. During the final phase of their trek to the Promised Land, the Israelites camped out in Moab near Mount Nebo. It is also the place where Moses was able to see the Promised Land before he died. Deuteronomy 32:48-52 describes God telling Moses to climb to the top of Mount Nebo and look at Canaan, the land that the Israelities would have. God also told Moses that he would die on that mountain and that he would only see the Promised Land from a distance, unable to enter the Promised Land that God was giving the people of Israel. Moses’ prayer to see the Promised Land was answered, just not the way that he imagined it would be. Mount Nebo is also believed to be the scene where the archangel Michael and Satan fought over Moses’ body.
Jordan is a beautiful country with lots of biblical history. These six sites are just the tipping point of what the country has to offer. From the Dead Sea to Lot’s Cave, Jordan was the site of many biblical miracles. The Jordan River was an important place in the Bible; it is most known for being the site of Jesus’ baptism. As you explore these sites, imagine what it must have been like to experience these places in the biblical days. Walk in the path of Jesus and his disciples. It will be an experience that you won’t soon forget.
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