River Jordan Attractions Yarden
Situation and characteristicsThe river Jordan (Hebrew Yarden), the longest (252km/157mi) and most abundantly flowing river in Israel, is formed by the junction of three source streams, passes through the Sea of Galilee and after some meandering flows into the Dead Sea, bringing it a supply of fresh water. Although the Jordan is not particularly deep or wide, its significance for the Christian faith makes it one of the most famous rivers in the world.
The Jordan's three source streams are the Hazbani, which rises in Lebanon, the Dan, rising in the Dan Nature Reserve, and the Banyas, which rises at the village of that name. The three streams join in the Hule basin, and the Jordan then flows through a narrow valley into the Sea of Galilee, which it reaches after a course of 60km/37mi.
After emerging from the Sea of Galilee the Jordan is joined by the Yarmouk, which marks the frontier between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Yarmouk was the scene of a dramatic historical event in August 636, when, during a violent sandstorm, the Arabs advancing from the south inflicted an annihilating defeat on the army of the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius. Palestine and Syria were lost to the Byzantine Empire and the period of Islamic rule began.On the north bank of the Yarmouk is the spa of Hamat Gader, where Israeli archeologists began excavating the site of the Roman settlement in 1967.
The riverine plain between the Sea of Galilee and the junction with the Yarmouk is broad and fertile. To the south the west bank becomes narrower, but opens out again at Bet Shean. In this area the Nahal Harod flows into the Jordan from the west.Farther south the Jordan is joined by the Nahal Tirza on the west bank and the Nahal Yaboq on the east. The east bank between Naharayim and Damiya was irrigated by the Jordanian government with aid from the United States, and more than 100,000 farmers have settled there since the 1960s.
South of Damiya the west bank of the River Jordan opens out into the Jordan plain, with the oasis of Jericho. Since 1967 numerous villages have been established in this area, whose inhabitants are able to harvest valuable agricultural crops out of season.Between the south end of the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea the Jordan follows a winding course. On the way to the Dead Sea it is spanned by the Adam (Damiya), Allenby and Abdullah Bridges. Between the Allenby and Abdullah Bridges is the spot, 8km/5mi east of Jericho, where Jesus is believed to have been baptized.
Jordan Rift Valley
The Jordan rift valley is part of the Syro-African Depression. In the Dead Sea (surface 398m/1,306ft below sea level, bed up to 831m/2,727ft below sea level) it reaches its deepest point, which is also the lowest point on the surface of the earth. The rift valley continues along the Arava depression and the Gulf of Aqaba into East Africa.