Jordan is a Near East country that borders Syria, Israel, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, which was part of Canaan in ancient times. It’s named after the Jordan River, which flows between Israel and modern-day Jordan, whose name means “flow downwards” or “to descend.” The region has an extended history as a trade center for every significant empire from ancient times to the present day.
Numerous sites in the country are mentioned throughout the Bible. Besides Israel, no other country has as many biblical associations and locations as Jordan. There’s Lot’s Cave, Mount Nebo, Bethany, and Madaba. Jordan is also the land of the ancient kingdoms of Moab, Ammon, Edom, and many others. The most significant part of Jordan’s biblical significance is the Jordan River, which the Bible mentions over 185 times. Here’s a deeper look into some of Jordan’s biblical locations, highlighting Jordan’s biblical significance.
The Jordan River
The Jordan River is 156 miles long, flowing from north to south from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. It sits on present-day Israel’s eastern border and Jordan and Syria’s western border. Because of its length and location, the Bible mentions it over 185 times. Genesis 13 indirectly references the Jordan River, where Abraham and Lot divide the land where God led them. Abraham let Lot choose his stake first, and he chose the Jordan Valley due to its lusciousness, specifically in verse 10. This moment was critical because it established Lot as a selfish person and led him to the city of Sodom, which God destroyed in Genesis 18-19.
Years later, as the Israelites fled from slavery in Egypt to the land God pledged to them, The Jordan River served as a pathway and an obstruction. The people roamed the wilderness for 40 years as a penalty for not trusting in the Lord’s care when He brought them to Canaan. Even Moses was denied access to the Holy Land and could only see it from a mountaintop across the Jordan River after he died. The next generation of Israelites stood on the banks of the Jordan, ready to enter Canaan at last. The Jordan River was their last hindrance, and it was flooded.
At God’s order, Joshua, the people’s new leader, told the priests wearing the Ark of the Covenant to stand in the river. They did so, and the river stopped flowing to make way for the people to cross on dry ground, as detailed in Joshua 3:15-17.
In the Bible, Mount Nebo is a mountain in Moab where Moses saw the Holy Land before he died. Mount Nebo sits 4,000 feet above the Dead Sea on the east side of the Jordan River, parallel to Jericho. In the last stage of the Israelites’ trek to the Holy Land, they stayed in Moab near Mount Nebo. Before Moses died, God told him to go to the top of Mount Nebo, as detailed in yDeuteronomy 32:48-52.
God told Moses he would die overlooking Canaan on Mount Nebo. God answered Moses’ prayer to see the Holy Land, but he couldn’t enter because of what happened when he hit the rock at Meribah Kadesh. Moses and his brother Aaron disappointed God that day due to their pride, disobedience, anger, and lack of trust. After seeing the Holy Land from Mount Nebo, Moses died and was buried close by. In present-day, Mount Nebo still has broad views of the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, Jericho, and even Jerusalem on clear days.
Lot was Abraham’s nephew who had selfish tendencies. After the obliteration of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot was scared to stay in Zoar, so he stayed in the mountains with his daughters. He lost everything in Sodom’s destruction, so he and his family lived in a cave. In this cave, Lot’s daughters developed a plan to keep the family line going: they would get Lot drunk and sleep with him. The eldest daughter slept with him first; the youngest daughter slept with him the next night. Both got pregnant and named their sons Ben-Ammi and Moab. These boys became the fathers of the Ammonites and Moabites. Years later, the Lord ordered His people to save the Moabites and the Ammonites for Lot when the Israelites journeyed to the Holy Land.
The site of Jesus’ baptism.
Perhaps the most significant event that occurred in Jordan was Jesus’ baptism. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John say His baptism took place on the banks of the Jordan River by John the Baptist. John 1:19-28 introduces us to John the Baptist, a rugged and rough prophet who spread the news that Israel’s Messiah was coming. Religious leaders started questioning him; the Pharisees insisted on knowing who gave John the authority to perform baptisms. John said that God sent him to prepare the way for the Lord. John 1:29-34 tells us that Jesus came to John on the east of the Jordan to get baptized.
When thinking about a tour of Jordan, most people know that Jordan is biblically significant. Still, few understand how much this land exists in Christian and Hebrew scriptures. These locations are only the tip of the iceberg regarding Jordan’s biblical significance. You could also visit Petra, the land of the Edomites. Many movie lovers know about the treasury building of Petra due to its feature in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989.
From the site of Jesus’ baptism to the Jordan River, Jordan is filled with biblical sites and pieces of information. Imagine yourself visiting the site of Jesus’ baptism and how that would uplift and strengthen your faith. Picture yourself placing your feet in the Jordan River, the same place where the Israelites fled the terrors of Egypt.
Outside of Israel, no other country has more biblical significance than Jordan. If you’re considering taking a trip to Jordan, take some time to visit these biblical sites and immerse yourself in this beautiful land. Take the opportunity to travel back in time and feel Jesus’ presence around you.
For more information on the Holy Sites of Jordan and planning your trip, please visit www.holyjordan.com