The Jordan River in Israel
The holy Jordan River is mentioned many times in the Bible (Old Testament), the Gospels. Its healing properties have been known since the Middle Ages. In its waters the Son of Man Jesus Christ was baptized. This is where the legendary events took place, when the waters of the Jordan opened up for the Jewish people and the people led by Joshua were able to cross over to the other side by dry land.
Water with character
The waters of the river have their source at Mount Hermon (Golan Heights), flow through Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and flow into the salty Dead Sea. Where the Jordan River in Israel flows out of the Sea of Galilee and flows south, it becomes the natural border between the Israeli state and the Kingdom of Jordan.
The river has at times a lush and at times a calm “temper. Its width in different places varies: somewhere the widest place is only 5 meters, and in some places it spills over 40 meters. The depth is usually barely more than 1 meter, only the northern part of the Jordan is the deepest – 2 meters. The total length of the river is 252 kilometers and the area of the basin is 1800 kilometers.
The waters of the Jordan are not characterized by crystal clarity, but they are clean and rich in a variety of fish. It is believed that the barely perceptible bites of small fish are beneficial for humans. In summer, the water is more transparent, unlike in winter and spring, when it becomes muddy because of the clay soil, brought by the fast current.
No ships navigate the river, but it is considered the most important waterway in the region. All along the Jordan lies the Syrian-African Tectonic Fault, which runs from the Syrian Arab Republic to East Africa.
From the Jordanian side, the shore looks modest: a wooden platform, stairs into the water also made of wood, a changing room. On the Israeli side, it is more ambitious: concrete steps to the water with a railing on each side, a changing room with a shower and a toilet, cafes and stores. Some tourists who come to Jordan dip in its waters solely in terms of healing from illnesses. Many take their Baptism here.
Many springs gathered in a single
Surprisingly, against the backdrop of a desert area, on the holy river everything is transformed: the bright green on the banks and clean air makes the lowest point of Israel a favorite place for pilgrims and vacationers. Here every year there are celebrations for the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus Christ, which falls in the month of January. However, this does not prevent daredevils to take a dip in the cold (only +14º C) healing waters without any harm to their health.
The river seems to be made up of several springs and streams. The largest of them – Dan – is located in the territory of Tel Dan Park. It is thanks to this stream and originated the name Jordan, which means something like this: Dan waters rushing down. There are many streams in the Jordan, but the largest after the Dan are the Banias (Panias) and the Snir (Hatzbani). All the streams meet at the place of Sde-Nechemia, where they become a single water element called the Jordan.
It is recorded that the river, flowing into the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias), does not mix with it. In any case, photos from space “show” a path of water that begins from the place where the Jordan flows into the sea and stretches across its entire width.
Places known since Biblical times
In the area of the river remained ancient and new places of worship are being erected. Here is still preserved the spring of John the Baptist. The place where the momentous event – the Baptism of Jesus Christ – took place is situated a little away from the present river.
It is said that on the Epiphany the river goes backwards (it happened when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist). On the eve of the feast, the Orthodox put in the water made wooden crosses, on which there are lighted candles. The Jordan takes them to the Dead Sea, and on the day of Baptism, the water begins to flow backwards along with the salty water of the Dead Lake. The crosses float back and the always fresh water becomes a little salty.
It is believed that to receive a special grace is to take a dip in the Jordan on the Epiphany. Here the Venerable Mary of Egypt crossed over dry water to receive communion from the elder Zosima. Here Joshua led the Jews across the river, whose waters parted before the people. It is now the site of Divine Service, and the Patriarch of Jerusalem has the right to consecrate the water.
In this place in the II-III centuries AD stood a Christian monastery, of which only the marble steps are extant. They led from the temple to the water. The ancient temple was destroyed many times and was rebuilt again. Today it is reminded of a stone platform with a wicker canopy. Stories about those distant events “tell” ceramic mosaics located nearby.
On the West Bank of Jordan is Bethany, which is mentioned in the New Testament. This is where Jesus of Nazareth stayed on the eve of his departure for Jerusalem. Archaeological excavations are currently underway here.
Near the river is the famous Mount Nebo where Moses lived. The mountain offers a magnificent landscape: a panorama of the Holy Land. Today on the mountain there is a memorial dedicated to the prophet and other no less interesting attractions. Next to the mountain is the hill of Elijah the Prophet. It is believed that the saint ascended to Heaven on a chariot of fire from here.
Natural and Scientific Wonders
Locals tell of miracles that occur in this area. Early in the morning a cloud appears over one mountain and descends over Jerusalem. The moisture (rain or dew) from the cloud is collected and preserved by the people. It has unique healing properties. The most remarkable thing is that the cloud “hangs” only over the Mount of Zion and the Temple of the Holy Sepulchre, and then disappears.
Throughout human history, the Jordan River in Israel has been crossed many times by people from different cultures and walks of life: Crusaders, Muslims, Mongols, Israelis. In the past century, overcoming many obstacles, the first power plant was built on the Jordan coast by the efforts of Peter Moiseyevich Rutenberg. Thanks to it, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Tiberias and other cities were supplied with electricity. A model of the hydroelectric power plant is preserved in the Gesher HaYashan Museum.
“The Jordan River has sheltered Israel, The primordial nation has risen at last! The whole world has glorified this Holy Land, In you, Jew, a part of Jesus lives.”
What rivers flow in Israel?
In Israel, seemingly a nation of nothing but sand and desert, many rivers and streams flow. The most important river in Israel is considered to be the Jordan River, which originates on the high Mount Hermon, located on the Lebanese-Syrian border. The Jordan River, following its natural course, flows through Lake Tiberias and at the end of its course flows into the Dead Sea.
It should be noted that, since Israel has a fairly dry climate, and precipitation is not much, most of the rivers of Israel and small creeks are filled with water only for a while.
The largest river in Israel, the Jordan, also called Yarden, stretches for 250 kilometers. It rolls its waters across Israel, flowing into the Dead Sea. The Jordan has three small tributaries: the Dan River, the Hermon River and the Snir River. These picturesque rivers merrily roll their waters over the landscapes of the north of Israel and always attract numerous vacationers, travelers and tourists with their beauty.
The Seaside Plain includes several rivers Israel does not dry up – the Crocodile River or Taninim, and the River Israel Yarkon. These two rivers do not dry all year round.
Running downhill steeply to the east of the country fast-flowing mountain rivers Amud, Tirtza, Arugot and Prat with their rapid flow have formed a very picturesque canyons, which have become a real tourist attraction in Israel.
Tzin, Tselim, Bessor, Paran and Arava are the most powerful rivers in Israel, they simply cut through the unique canyons of beauty and uniqueness in the Negev desert of Israel with their powerful current. In winter the rivers of the Negev desert can very quickly lose their banks, and therefore there is always the threat and danger of flooding.
If we talk about water in general, except for rivers in Israel, there are two major, or rather, the main water reservoirs – the Dead Sea and Lake Kinneret. Of these – Kinneret – is a source of fresh water, a popular place for recreation and bathing, there are also Christian shrines.
The Dead Sea is the health resort of Israel. The sea is located at the lowest point on the planet. All other water reservoirs of Israel – ponds and lakes – are much smaller than Lake Kinneret and the Dead Sea.
If we talk about more or less significant rivers in Israel, there are about two dozen, let us consider some of them. Where do they originate, what is their length? And also consider a brief characteristic and feature of each river in Israel.
The river called Alexander begins its course in the mountains of Samaria. The length of the river, by our standards is very, very small, only 45 kilometers. The Alexander River flows into the Mediterranean Sea. It carries its waters through the valley of the Hefer, and into it flow such small rivers as the Omets, Bahan, Avihayl, Akhzav, Shechem. The attraction of the river is that in its waters there are rare specimens of turtles – the Nile soft-shell turtles. The river even has a Turtle Bridge, which attracts a huge number of tourists to see these extraordinary representatives of fauna of Israel.
Recently, the state of Israel began active work to clean the waters of the Alexander River. This beautiful river of Israel is being brought into proper condition, and on this program is spent a lot of money from the state budget of the country.
Another Israeli river is the Ayalon. It begins its course in the north and ends in the south. In summer, the river dries up most of the time. At the beginning of the last century, the river flooded large areas in Israel, sometimes reaching the borders of the German colonies – the Templar settlements. Today, the Israeli army base of Kiria is located there.
The river bed is 50 kilometers long, and the area of its basin covers 815 square kilometers. The source of the river begins in the west of the Judean mountains. Israel’s river Ayalon flows through the Ayalon Valley, flowing into another river – the Yarkon. The confluence of the waters of the two rivers in Israel occurs one and a half kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea, where the Yarkon flows into it.
Ayalon has another name, Wadi al-Masrara, which is in Arabic, and it used to be officially called that. Now the river has a Jewish name, which is derived from the name of a Jewish town, Dan Ayalon. That is also the name of the valley through which the river flows. If you remember history, Ayalon was the main city of the Dan tribe. Then the Philistines pushed this tribe to the north, and today it is an area of modern Kiryat Shmrna. The name Ayalon appears quite often in various documents: the old diplomatic – tables of Al Amarna, in the Tanakh.
A significant section of the river in Israel Ayalon coincides with the Ayalon Expressway. This highway is the municipal boundary between the city of Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan.
Israel Banias River, or as it is called Hermon, comes from small springs, which are located near the eponymous mountain Hermon. The river carries its waters through the Golan Heights and merges with the Sneer River and the Dan River to form the largest river in Israel, the Jordan. Sneer, Dan and Banias merge above sea level at an altitude of 80 meters.
Why is the name Banias? The name of the river is in honor of the Greek god of wine and fertility, Pan, and as the name itself is Arabized, so it sounds like Banias. According to legend, which is carefully preserved and retold by the locals in Israel, in the cave from which the river originates, lived this merry deity. Around the spring itself there were many temples built in honor of the god and his goats, and on this site was located the city of Panias, which in Roman times was called Caesarea.
Banias is known for its waterfalls and rapids. The highest waterfall of the river is 10 meters high. To admire the beauty of running down from the height of the water come from all over Israel, Israelis love this place and tourists.
There are rivers in Israel – a seasonal, that is, in summer they dry up, and in winter filled with water. One of these little rivers is the Besor. It flows near the kibbutz Tselim.
Israel’s Kishon River – flows in the Isreel Valley, originating in the Lower Galilee. The Kishon flows into the Mediterranean Sea. At the mouth of the river is the port of the same name – Kishon. The length of the river is 13 km. The water in the Kishon is very polluted with industrial waste. The pollution is so strong that bathing in the river is strictly prohibited. Today, there are several court cases against those enterprises that pollute the river and harm the environment.
Originating in the Negev desert, the southernmost part of Judea, the Lahish flows between the ancient cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon into the Mediterranean Sea. The length of the Lahish about 70 kilometers, and for the scale of Israel is a large enough river. Lahish – one of the few rivers in Israel, which does not dry up in the country, that is, all year round, and even in the summer period is not completely dry up, carrying its water on the territory of Israel.
The problem is that there are many rivers in Israel that are polluted by sewage waste, industrial water, runoff from businesses, and in this respect Lakhish is no exception. Recently, the government of the country has allocated not small funds for cleaning and protection of the river from pollution, works are carried out to bring the river and adjacent reservoirs in order.
The river of Israel, Naaman, also flows through the Isreel Valley and, like the Lahish, flows into the Mediterranean Sea. It is interesting that at its very beginning, the river moves northward and then changes its course to the west of the country. At the very mouth of the Naaman River is the ancient city of Acre. The Naaman River is peppered with a variety of streams, of which there are no more than 30. In the east the Hilazon and the Ablaim, rivers of Israel, flow into it. In the river there are surviving Crusader structures such as the dam for the water supply of Acre and the old water mill in which cereals were threshed. The river is about 11 kilometers long. Today, bathing in Naaman is prohibited, as the river is very polluted with industrial effluents.
The next river in Israel – the river Snir or its other name – Hatzbani – is a small mountain stream, by the way, it flows through the territory of the two countries – Libya and Israel. The Snir River is not a drying river, it is one of the tributaries of the Jordan River, which replenishes and feeds it. The beginning of the river is in the territory of Lebanon, on the top of Mount Hermon, which is 1500 meters above sea level. The length of the Snir is 60 kilometers, which for a river in Israel is not short. Since the river is mostly mountainous, it is also quite fast, with strong traffic. The river has a rocky bottom. The Sneer flows through the nature reserve Nahal Sneer.
The river of Israel is the Shorek or Sorek. Its bed is located in the national park of Ein Shorek. The river flows into the Mediterranean Sea between the two cities of Ashdod and Rishon. There is a national problem in Israel – heavily polluted rivers, and the Shorek, unfortunately, is no exception. The river is polluted by sewage and industrial water. One of the attractions of the river can be considered a stalactite cave, the area of which is 5 thousand square meters. The cave is located near Beit Shemesh.
One of the most interesting rivers in Israel is the river Taninim, and also it is called a crocodile river, the word “tanin” and translates – “crocodile. The river in some places is up to 12 meters wide. In general, its width varies from 2 to 12 meters. The Crocodile River carries its waters into the Mediterranean Sea, originating at the tops of the mountains of Samaria. This is one of those rivers that do not dry up in Israel.
Although it is called “Crocodile River”, the last crocodile was seen in it as far back as 1905. Today the state spends huge funds from the state budget to clean and tidy up the river, understanding that environmental protection is the health and future of the nation.
The Hadera River, it is not a seasonal river. That is, the stream does not appear during the winter and does not disappear during the summer. The stream flows from the northern slopes of the mountains of Judea, and swiftly carries its waters into the Mediterranean Sea. In the Mediterranean Sea Hadera flows into the city of Hadera. The river Hadera, as well as the Shorek, as well as other rivers in Israel are polluted by sewage and industrial runoff. It should be noted that in recent years, Israel has been working to clean up their rivers. Today, the lower part of the Hadera is cleaned and deepened.
Hadera flows into the Mediterranean Sea, where they built a power plant. Hadera also applies to non-dry rivers of Israel.
The Harod River – which begins its life at the foot of Mount Gilboa in Israel, the river flows through the Beth Shean Valley and the Isreel Valley and enters the Jordan River as a turbulent stream. The Harod River does not disappear during the summer season, and also belongs to the undrained rivers of Israel.
The Yarkon is the next river in Israel, which flows almost through the most central part of the country. Its beginning comes from the city of Rosh Ha-Ain. The river flows into the Mediterranean Sea near the city of Tel Aviv. The length of the river is 27 km. The river carries its waters through the seven cities of Israel and is one of the largest coastal rivers of the country. Yarkon is the largest tributary of the Jordan.
The sources of the Yarkon are not in Israel, but in southern Syria. The river has steep, precipitous banks. The Naharaim power plant operated on the river until 1948. The river does not dry up all year round, carrying its waters to the Mediterranean Sea.
As you can see, in Israel, a fairly small state, which has a small territory and area, most of which – the desert, there are many rivers and rivulets flowing through its territory. The largest river – a river in Israel – the Jordan. All the others are its tributaries that feed it in one way or another. The big problem with Israel’s rivers is their pollution, but recently the government and the public have been raising the issue of revitalizing and protecting natural water resources. Significant budgetary funds are spent on programs to clean and preserve rivers. Israel’s rivers can be conventionally divided into two kinds: drying and non-drying, with the latter being much smaller. Each river has a history and is associated with some event in the life of the country. Each has its own attractions, there is something to admire. And although on the scale of Russia or Ukraine, for example, rivers in Israel are almost rivulets, they still play an important role in the life of the country.