The Jordan River is a 251-kilometre (156 mi)-long river in West Asia flowing to the Dead Sea. Israel and Palestine border the river to the west, while the Golan Heights and Jordan lie to its east.
In the Hebrew Bible the Jordan is referred to as the source of fertility to a large plain (“Kikkar ha-Yarden”), and it is said to be like “the garden of G-d” (Genesis 13:10). There is no regular description of the Jordan in the Bible; only scattered and indefinite references to it are given. Jacob crossed it and its tributary, the Jabbok (the modern Al-Zarqa), on his way back from Haran (Genesis 32:11, 32:23-24). It is noted as the line of demarcation between the “two tribes and the half tribe” settled to the east (Numbers 34:15) and the “nine tribes and the half tribe of Manasseh” that, led by Joshua, settled to the west (Joshua 13:7, passim).
Opposite Jericho, it was called “the Jordan of Jericho” (Numbers 34:15; 35:1). The Jordan has a number of fords, and one of them is famous as the place where many Ephraimites were slain by Jephthah (Judges 12:5-6). It seems that these are the same fords mentioned as being near Beth-barah, where Gideon lay in wait for the Midianites (Judges 7:24). In the plain of the Jordan, between Succoth and Zarthan, is the clay ground where Solomon had his brass-foundries (1 Kings 7:46).
In biblical history, the Jordan appears as the scene of several miracles, the first taking place when the Jordan, near Jericho, was crossed by the Israelites under Joshua (Joshua 3:15-17). Later the two tribes and the half tribe that settled east of the Jordan built a large altar on its banks as “a witness” between them and the other tribes (Joshua 22:10, 22:26, et seq.). The Jordan was crossed by Elijah and Elisha on dry ground (2 Kings 2:8, 2:14). G-d thrived through Elisha performing two other miracles at the Jordan: G-d healed Naaman by having him bathe in its waters, and he made the axe head of one of the “children of the prophets” float, by throwing a piece of wood into the water (2 Kings 5:14; 6:6).
The New Testament states that John the Baptist baptised unto repentance in the Jordan (Matthew 3:5-6; Mark1:5; Luke 3:3; John1:28). These acts of Baptism are also reported as having taken place at Bethabara (John 1:28).
Yeshua came to be baptised by him there (Matthew 3:13; Mark 1:9; Luke 3:21, 4:1). The Jordan is also where John the Baptist bore record of Yeshua as the Son of G-d and Lamb of G-d (John 1:29-36).
The prophecy of Isaiah regarding the Messiah which names the Jordan (Isaiah 9:1-2) is also reported in Matthew 4:15.
The New Testament speaks several times about Yeshua crossing the Jordan during his ministry (Matthew 19:1; Mark 10:1), and of believers crossing the Jordan to come hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases (Matthew 4:25; Mark 3:7-8). When his enemies sought to capture him, Jesus took refuge at Jordan in the place John had first baptised (John 10:39-40).