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Discovery Magazine 6/1/2001

The Jordan River

It's not the longest, widest, or cleanest river in the world, but the Jordan River is certainly one of the most famous rivers of all times. The name “Jordan” means “descender.” This name probably was given to the Jordan River because it drops over 3,000 feet from where it originates in northern Palestine (about 50 miles north of the Sea of Galilee) to where it ends at the Dead Sea. On average, the river drops about 22 feet per mile, making the currents fairly rapid. Although the river covers only about 120 miles of land from north to south, if you trace all of its windings you will find that it actually is about 200 miles long. It averages 5 to 12 feet in depth, and about 80 to 180 feet in width.

The Jordan River was very important to the people who lived in Bible times. The Israelites had to cross it to inhabit the land [promised to them by God (Joshua 3:17). Years later, Naaman was instructed by Elisha, a prophet of God, to dip himself seven times in the Jordan River in order to be healed of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:10). The most famous event connected with the Jordan River was the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17). Although John the Baptizer did not feel worthy to baptize Jesus, he agreed to do it in order that “all righteousness” might be fulfilled.

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