Monthly Archives: March 2011

Banias — easternmost source of the River Jordan

The Nahr (River) Banias is the easternmost source of the River Jordan. The source of the Banias is located at a site we know as Caesarea Philippi in the New Testament. It is well known to those who study the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 16:13-19).

Banias is located on the eastern side of the Beka or Hula Valley.  The valley is called the Beka in Lebanon, and a little further south the Hula Valley. The elevation is about 1150 feet above sea level in the foothills of Mount Hermon.

The photo below shows the place where the water emerges from the earth. Perhaps you are reminded of the text from the prophet Jeremiah:

for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13 ESV)

Getting a drink at the source. River Banias, Caesarea Philippi.

Getting a drink at the source. River Banias, Caesarea Philippi. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Other posts about this site are listed below. Check them all.

Three other rivers we have recently mention, Flea River, the Senir, and the Dan, join with the Banias to form the River Jordan.

Speaking in North Georgia

The Mountain View Church of Christ, Cumming, Georgia, has invited me to speak on Bible History and Archaeology at the North Georgia Bible Forum in Cumming, Georgia, March 20-25. Stop by if you happen to be in the area. Full details are available here.

Nahal Dan — strongest source of the Jordan

Israel National Parks and Nature Reserves, by Azaria Alon, is a must book for those who plan to visit more than the popular few of the parks and reserves in Israel.  It is published by Carta (Jerusalem), and distributed by Eisenbraun’s in the USA. Click on the link here to go directly to the description and order info.

Here is Alon’s description of the Nahal Dan (Nahr el-Leddan; River Dan):

Nahal Dan is situated in the heart of an area known as “the land of streams and rivers,” and indeed, in the Nahal and along its margins, water and vegetation are present in abundance. The Nahal has a single principal source but it is also fed by dozens of smaller springs. Walking in this environment one has the feeling of springs emerging everywhere. All this water has its origin from the winter snows on Mt. Hermon. The snow melts slowly, seeps into the sponge-like earth of the mountain, and emerges in the foothills. The water flows quietly from the springs, but it continues down an ever-increasing slope, turning into a torrent and generating standing waves and foam. When the stream emerges from the nature reserve, it splits into several rivulets which rejoin when it encounters Nahal Hermon to form the Jordan River.

Nahal Hermon is more commonly known as the Nahr Banias which begins at the site of Caesarea Philippi.

Here is a view of the Nahal Dan within the Tel Dan Nature Reserve.

Nahal Dan in the Tel Dan Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Nahal Dan in the Tel Dan Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

And here is one of the springs. This one is located immediately below the northwest corner of Tel Dan.

A spring in the Tel Dan Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A spring in the Tel Dan Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Dan is Israel’s northernmost city (Judges 18:29).

Something Irish

Many Americans have Irish backgrounds. Something Irish may be appropriate today.

This photo of gently rolling hills of northern Ireland is typical of the northern part of Ireland. The closest large town is Armagh, but it is between Rich Hill and Ahorey.

Farm land near Ahorey Church, near Rich Hill, N. Ireland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Farm land near Ahorey Church, North Ireland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Students of the Restoration Movement will recognize this area as the home of Thomas and Alexander Campbell in the early 1800s, prior to their departure for America.

Some time I would like to post several photos of Irish sites associated with the Campbells.

The flea river: Nahr Bareighit or Nahal Iyon

The least known of the sources of the Jordan River is the Nahr Bareighit (flea river) or Nahal Iyon (the name used in Israel). Like the Senir (Hasbani), this river begins in the Beka Valley of Lebanon. It is often overlooked when the sources of the Jordan are named.

Nelson Glueck, The River Jordan, describes the Nahr Bareighit.

The westernmost source of the Jordan is the small mountain stream, Nahr Bareighit. Through a rude gorge, it tumbles down southward from the hilly meadowland of Merj ‘Ayun, which retains in clear part its ancient Biblical name of Ijon (1 Kings 15:20), to add its waters to the formation of the fateful [Jordan] river. The Nahr Bareighit joins the Nahr Hasbani about three quarters of a mile above the point where the Hasbani joins the junction of the Leddan and Banias streams. These last two alone were anciently considered as the sole sources of the Jordan. All found help to form it, and lose their identity in it, as the Jordan starts it flow under its own name.

“Roll, Jordan, roll;
I want to go to heaven when I die
To hear sweet Jordan roll.”

Deni Baly, The Geography of the Bible, devotes a single sentence to this little stream.

The basin of Marj ‘Ayoun to the west is drained by the smaller Bareighit, which leaps over the threshold in a series of charming waterfalls near Metullah and postpones its junction with the Jordan until just before the Huleh marshes. (193)

The photo below shows the Iyon Mill Falls. It is one of the beautiful photos of several falls on the river from the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands. Check to purchase the complete set or the DVD of Galilee and the North.

Nahal Iyon Mill Falls. Photo:

Nahal Iyon Mill Falls. Photo courtesy of

The Senir, a source of the Jordan River

The longest source of the Jordan is the 24-mile-long Nahr Hasbani which begins in the Beka Valley of Lebanon and flows south to join the Jordan. Israel has replaced many of the Arabic names that were commonly used in earlier decades with Hebrew names. The Old Testament says that the Sidonians “call Hermon Sirion, and the Amorites call it Senir” (Deuteronomy 3:9). The river is now designated Senir in Israel.

At the Senir (Hasbani) on Israel Highway 99. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

At the Senir (Hasbani) on Israel Highway 99. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Other passages identifying Mount Hermon as Senir are 1 Chronicles 5:23, Song of Solomon 4:8, and Ezekiel 27:5. Nelson Glueck, The River Jordan, calls attention to Psalm 42:6, translating it this way:

O my God, my soul is cast down within me: Therefore am I mindful of thee from the land of the Jordan, and the Hermons” (Psalm 42:6)

The plural of the Hebrew word chermonim is bought out in the English translations by phrases like “peaks of Hermon” or “heights of Hermon.”

Israel Highway 99 runs north east from Kiryat Shmona to the Golan Heights past Tel Dan and Banias (Caesarea Philippi) and two other sources of the Jordan (the River Dan and the River Banias). Because this river begins in the vicinity near Mount Hermon, it is called the Senir.

The photo below is the view north from Highway 99.

The Senir River (Hasbani) view north from HWY 99.

The Senir River (Hasbani) view north from HWY 99. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I think the slide on the west side of the river is used to launch kayaks into the river.

Shattered dreams

Qumran Replica

Qumran Replica

Back in early February I posted a poll here from Jerusalem asking, “Did Ferrell purchase the Qumran Jar replica?” I may have set a limit on the time frame for voting. There were 101 total votes. Here are the results:

  • Yes — 39.6%
  • Absolutely not — 14.85%
  • No, but he lusted — 45.54%

Drumroll! The answer: Yes, and he had it shipped from the shop to his home in Florida. I guess this says something about polls.

The photo to the right shows the beautiful Qumran Jar replica, like those the Dead Sea Scrolls were stored in for nearly two millennial, as it looked the day I purchased it in Jerusalem. The package arrived at our home about four weeks later. I was delighted to receive it, but when I opened the package this is what I found.

The broken Qumran Jar replica. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The broken Qumran Jar replica. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The manager of the shop at the City of David Visitors Center has been very nice and promises that another jar will be on the way shortly. We had paid about as much for insurance as for the jar.

Perhaps I should take the attitude of a lady guide in Russia about 20 years ago. She was a staunch party loyalist. When some of our ladies asked her about the availability of sugar, she said that it was not available. Then she added, “But we don’t need it.”

Well, I can still get at few biblical lessons from this experience.

Prior to the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. the prophet Jeremiah was instructed to break a jar in the presence of the leaders of the people and of the priests.

The LORD continued, “Now break the jar in front of those who have come here with you. Tell them the LORD who rules over all says, ‘I will do just as Jeremiah has done. I will smash this nation and this city as though it were a potter’s vessel which is broken beyond repair. The dead will be buried here in Topheth until there is no more room to bury them.’ I, the LORD, say: ‘That is how I will deal with this city and its citizens. I will make it like Topheth. (Jeremiah 19:10-12 NET)

If I get sick with boils I can use the potsherds like Job did.

Job took a shard of broken pottery to scrape himself with while he was sitting among the ashes. (Job 2:8 NET)