Today, our journey through biblical locations brings us to most important river in Israel, the Yar•den, the Jordan River. Its name comes from the root ‘YARAD,’ to descend. And, indeed, from its origin in the north all the way through to the Dead Sea, this river is continuously descending – Yar•den, Jordan, is also a country today, but during the biblical era, this land was referred to as a region, and mostly the region east of the Jordan river. This area was called Transjordan. This was the legal name of Jordan under the British control from 1921-1946.
The Jordan River played an important strategic role in the Bible; it is mentioned several times as the eastern border of the land of Canaan, and as the divider between the province east of the Jordan of two and a half tribes of Israel and the territories of the other tribes of Israel. The Book of Joshua tells about the Israelites entry into Canaan through the Jordan River, when near the city of Adam the water stood still on one side, and the river flow had stopped all the way to the Dead Sea. Since the Jordan River is mentioned almost 180 times in the Bible, many more events occurred there that we cannot describe here.
The Jordan River was known for its healing and purifying attributes. Naaman, the captain of the army of the king of Aram, was cured of leprosy after dipping in the Jordan seven times. In the New Testament, we learn about the Jordan’s spiritual cleansing power:
“All the country of Judea and all those of Jerusalem went out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins”
In the U.S., there are two cities named South Jordan, and West Jordan, both in Utah.