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Epiphany Celebration Draws Thousands of Christians to Jordan River

19 January, 201119 January, 2011 2 comments Uncategorized Uncategorized

Some 20,000 Orthodox Christians marked the Feast of the Epiphany in Israel and Jordan on Tuesday commemorating Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist at the Jordan River while many were immersed themselves, marking the date’s significance.

The Epiphany, Jan. 18 on the Orthodox calendar, is one of the most significant feasts for the Orthodox Church since Jesus’ baptism was his launch into public ministry and all three members of the Trinity were involved in the occasion - the Son was baptized, the Father spoke saying he was pleased with his son and the Spirit descended as a dove upon Jesus.

epiphany, jordan riverGreek Patriarch of Jerusalem Theofilos III led the ceremony and released three doves into the air symbolizing the presence of God. Many of the faithful were immersed in the Jordan River, but the Ministry of Tourism set up vats filled with water from the Jordan around the site for those who wanted to be baptized but were unable to reach the banks of the murky water.

While many participants were local Christians, at least half traveled from Greece, Russia, Ethiopia, Romania, Bulgaria and many other nations to participate in the holy ceremony.

The Feast of the Epiphany takes place at a site along the Jordan River known for centuries as Qasr al Yahud, meaning “the crossing of the Jews” - the place where the Israelites crossed the Jordan into the Land of Israel.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, Qasr al Yahud is the third most important site for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, after the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Nativity. This spot is believed to be where John the Baptist baptized Jesus (Matthew, 3: 13-17) and where the Israelites crossed the Jordan when they entered the Promised Land.
Most Christian pilgrims visit the more famous Yardenit baptism site just south of Tiberias. However, most biblical scholars believe that Qasr al Yahud is more likely the true baptismal site. Since the Tourism Ministry invested millions of shekels to renovate the site, Qasr al Yahud, near Jericho, is now on the map for tour groups.



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    Number of people coming to the holy land is growing every year and 2010 was a record year so far.
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