I really should have titled this post “The Original River Jordan”, since it is indubitably the first. But I live so close to the one in Utah…
Our van taxi got to the site first—moving through the demilitarized zone. Of course, throughout most of Israel’s history it has been at war with Jordan, and the Jordan is the border between the two now, so this area was off limits for quite a while. Pilgrims had to go to the northern part of the Jordan—where it spills out of the Galilee—to be baptized in the same river as the Savior.
There is actual peace between Israel and Jordan just now, so this area is allowed for tourists and pilgrims. People will come from both sides of the river—Palestinian and Jordanian—to get baptized here. It was not necessarily the most appealing body of water I’ve seen, but the logic is pretty sound.
There are the ruins of a First Century Christian church (on the Jordanian side), celebrating the Lord’s baptism. This area is also super close to Qumran, and there is some belief among biblical scholars that John the Baptist was a member of the Essene sect. The site makes sense.