We had a surprise for the tour group today.
Arrangements had been made through our tour operator to visit the traditional site where John the Baptist worked, and where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. This site, called Qasr al-Yahud, has been closed since 1967 except for the use of the Greek Orthodox Church on special occasions such as Epiphany. The area from the main highway to the site is still military. We had to get special permission and arrive at an appointed time in order to enter.
The photo shows a portion of the yet incomplete new site, the Jordan River, and the access point across the river in Jordan. The Jordanian site claims to be Bethany beyond the Jordan.
25 They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know.
27 “It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
28 These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
30 “This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’
31 “I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”
32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.
33 “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’
34 “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:25-34 NAU)
This location is also the in the area where ancient Israel crossed from the Plains of Moab into the promised land.
The new site will be nice once it is completed and the road is upgraded.
We also visited Wadi Qelt, Qumran, the Dead Sea, and Masada today.