John's testimony about himself to the priests and Levites
|19And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. [*] 24And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 25And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 28These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The name Jordan, or yarad in Hebrew, means “to go down...to descend.” From the time it leaves its main sources at the foot of Mount Hermon, it drops 2,600 feet to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the earth’s surface. Its course follows the largest fault zone on earth, the Great Rift Valley, which begins in Turkey and extends to East Africa.
The melted snows from Mount Hermon which spring forth at Dan and Caesarea Philippi are the main source of the river. As the river runs down toward the Sea of Galilee, the volume of water increases as several small tributaries and springs contribute to the flow. About 264 billion gallons of water flow through the Jordan River each year.
After the Jordan River exits the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, it meanders 125 miles (although the distance in a straight line is only 65 miles) to the Dead Sea. The depth of the river varies with the season as well as by region. At some points it is as shallow as three feet, in other places 10 to 12 feet. In the spring, however, the Jordan used to be “at flood stage all during the harvest” (Joshua 3:15). Today about 90 percent of the Jordan flow has been diverted for domestic or agricultural use.
The southern part of the Jordan attracts few tourists because it straddles Israel and the country of Jordan. Just above the Dead Sea, across from Jericho, near what the Bible calls “Bethany beyond the Jordan,” John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River (John 1:28).
Bethany on the east side of the Jordan River