Yardenit: Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. (Matthew 3:13)
Open to the public daily
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Yardenit is located at the southern just behind the dam used to lower the level of the lake in the event of rainy winters. There is a baptismal site at this location, and a parking lot to accommodate the cars. There are even changing rooms, so those getting baptized can dry off and change clothes. Yardenit even has restaurants and shops for the visitors. Yardenit comes from the “yarden,” the Hebrew word for Jordan, rendering “Yardenit” as “little Jordan.”
Yardenit is the location where the Sea of Galilee spills into the Jordan River, eventually emptying into the Dead Sea about 100 kilometers downstream to the south. According to some Christian traditions, this is the location where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. Many touring Christians stop at this site alone, in groups or with pastors to be rebaptized. The changing rooms, stairs with rails and walking paths make the pilgrim’s visit to this site quite pleasant. There are over 400,000 visitors each year of many different faiths and sect.
The baptism of Jesus is written about in Matthew, Mark and Luke and implied in John. The exact location is never recounted. In these passages, the baptism is quite important, because it was the event that lead to Jesus being called the son of God and the messiah of the Jewish people. Because there is no exact location in the Bible, Yardenit is not the only place where pilgrims visit to remember the baptism of Jesus.
Other followers attribute the baptism to Jesus to Beit Shean, which is further south. Still other pilgrims visit Jericho, which is quite a distance down the Jordan River from the Yardenit site. The Bible does not mention Jesus walking a great distance to arrive at the Sea of Galilee to be baptized. This is the reason many believe the Yardenit site is most likely, as it is the closest point on the Jordan River to the Sea of Galilee (where Jesus would have been coming from).
According to the Gospel of John in the King James Version, the location of Jesus’ baptism was called Bethabara. Bethabara in Hebrew means “place of crossing.” There were many places to cross the Jordan River, but again the Sea of Galilee was a logical place to cross the Jordan. However, the Old Testament mentions Bethabara in the story of Gideon. The Bible doesn’t say where this place of crossing was located, but Makhadet Abara (an Arabic site of crossing) is located near the valley of Herod in Beit Shean, which is 20 kilometers south of the Yardenit site.