Several media outlets have reported the permanent opening of the Qasr el-Yahud Baptismal site. Our group made arrangements to visit the site May 3, but we had to wait for military personnel to open the gate. Some construction work was going on, and the road to the site needed repair. See here. See earlier reports here, and here.
Some reports have warned about the impurity of the water. I advised my group not to touch it. A group of Ethiopians were dipping themselves, dipping others, and pouring water on themselves while we were there. A hand full of water looked like mud as it left the hand.
Ethiopians in the Jordan River at Qasr el-Yahud. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Personally I understand baptism to be a one-time act “for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:28; 8:12; Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Romans 6:3-4; et al.).
Bible students like to visit the Jordan River at this site for several reasons.
- Ancient Israel crossed the Jordan to enter the promised land (Joshua 3).
- Elijah and Elisha crossed the river (2 Kings 2).
- John baptized in the Jordan (Matthew 3:6ff.; Mark 1:5-9; John 1:28; 10:40).
- Jesus was baptized in the Jordan (Matthew 3:13).
- Naaman dipped in the Jordan at a site further north (2 Kings 5).
The view was made from the West Bank site looking northeast. A group of western pilgrims are visible on the (Hashemite Kingdom of) Jordan side of the river.
Jordan River Baptismal Site. View to the NE. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
HT: Bible Places Blog.
Posted in Bible Places, Bible Study, Israel, Jordan, New Testament, Old Testament, Photography, Travel
Tagged baptism, Ethiopians, John the Baptist, Jordan River
Biblical Archaeology Review announced today that the entire March/April edition is available online. Certainly this is to gain subscribers. Nonetheless it is a good opportunity for those who have not read the magazine to take a look.
Subjects include an article about a seal bearing the name Jezebel. Does it belong to the wicked Phoenician Queen, wife of Ahab?
Another article is about Emmaus, or Emmaus-Nicopolis, where Jesus met with some disciples after his resurrection (Luke 24:13ff.). Here is a photo I made of the fifth century baptistry at Emmaus in 2005.
BAR has a photo of this baptistry, but calls it a “baptismal font.” The article says,
Two steps lead down into the basin where the penitent would stand when the priest poured water over him (the basin is not large enough for total immersion).
Of course, I must disagree with BAR. Many a preacher has baptized in a bathtub or some other small vessel when nothing else was available. In New Testament times baptism was immersion, as the word indicates, and as history records. The first known instance of the pouring of water as a substitute for immersion is the case of Novation in A.D. 251. It may well have been that pouring was practiced by the 5th century at Emmaus, but it is a departure from the New Testament (Romans 6:3-4). Baptism is commonly called a washing in the New Testament (Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 10:22).
Anyway, go online and read these and other articles from the current issue of BAR. Here is the link.