Family

Baptisms and Mine Fields

Near the north end of the Dead Sea is a new site not available to us in 2010. (A re-post from 2017.)

Our family “floating” in the Dead Sea.

Our family “floating” in the Dead Sea.

In 2010 we visited a Jordan River baptism site at the point where the out-flow of the Sea of Galilee entered the Jordan River. At the time we were told this most northern point of the Jordan River was the only part accessible to tourists to Israel. The rest of the river all the way to the Dead Sea was in a military zone–and there was hardly any water in it due to agricultural use. The new baptism site we went to in June 2017 is near the Dead Sea.

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It seems evident to me that Israelis saw great value in building a tourist site available for Christian baptisms closer to the actual site of Jesus’ baptism in the gospels.

I do not know the process or negotiations that took place between the Palestinians, the Jordanians and themselves, but Israelis spent a great amount of money to provide this place and the accessibility at Bethabara. Scott Stripling, our tour guide and dig director at Shiloh, translated the name as “the house of crossing.,” It is on the western bank of the Jordan River. The country of Jordan is across the Jordan River to the east.

The western bank is in the territory of the Palestinians known, logically, as The West Bank.

Beside the road down to the baptism site of Bethabara.in the West Bank near Jericho.

Beside the road down to the baptism site of Bethabara.in the West Bank near Jericho.

In 2010, we were told the western bank of the Jordan River from the most southern point of the Sea of Galilee was a Palestinian military zone off-limits to Israelis and tourists. We saw this area labelled DANGER, MINES! beside the road in 2017.

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All this resulted in a continual flow of tourists coming to be baptized. And Israeli military personnel stood nearby to watch over us all.

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