The Jordan River
The Jordan River’s starting point begins at the base of Mt. Hermon in the northernmost portion of Israel and travels over 200 miles to the Dead Sea, where it finishes its journey. While the Jordan is considered a short river, it is one of the most well known in the world.
Background of the Jordan River
John the Baptist baptized Jesus, his cousin, in the Jordan River, an event marked by all four Gospels. As a result, the Jordan River has, for generations been a focal point of the Holy Land pilgrimage journey with many people traveling to one of two spots on the western bank of the river to be baptized. The older spot, recently redeveloped and opened to both Israelis and Palestinians is Qasr Al-Yahud, the Castle of the Jews and is named in memory of the day Joshua led the children of Israel across the Jordan River. The second site is part of kibbutz Kinneret, just south of Tiberias and is known as Yardenit. The site was built just at the point where the Jordan exits the Sea of Galilee.
The Yardenit baptismal site is well marked along the road between Tiberias city and the Tzemach junction to its east. No entry fees. Very good facilities. The Qasr Al-Yahud baptismal pool is worth extra attention. Its shape is cruciform and the flowing waters of the Jordan Rivers fills it naturally. The age of the steps leading into it is not known, but were mentioned the first time 1,400 years ago. Many of the innumerable pilgrims who have visited through the ages carved little crosses, still visible, into the stone.
In the Bible
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” Matthew 3:13-17
Hours of Operation
Yardenit is free and open 364 days a year. It is closed on Yom Kippur. From March through November, Sunday through Thursday, Saturday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. From December through February, Sunday through Thursday, Saturday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On the eve of Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Independence Day, hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Entry to Qasr Al-Yahud is free and available for group tours and by appointment only, at 10:30, 12:30 and 2:30 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.