Every year at January 18, Some 20,000 pilgrims take part in the annual Epiphany Ceremony – a festive event that includes the traditional baptism ceremony.
The Jordan river southern baptism site is – according to Jewish tradition the place where the people of Israel crossed the Jordan River to enter the land of Canaan and where Elijah the prophet ascended into heaven. According to christian tradition – this is the place where Jesus got baptised by John the Baptist (Matthew, 3: 13-17).
The New Testament indicates that this was when the spiritual birth of Jesus occurred – unline the physical birth that took place in Beth Lehem. This is what makes this place to be the third holiest place in the world for Christians.
The Jordan River is regarded as holy mainly because of the baptism ceremony: Jesus' baptism was one of the most important occasions of his life, and baptism today is one of the most important ceremonies of the church.
The religious importance of the Jordan River to Christians worldwide has made it one of the holiest water bodies in the world, and its water are believed to have medical and supernatural qualities. Pilgrims who come to the holy land from Europe, usually fill up water bottles and take it back home to bless their lands with holy water.
During the 1980's, the Greek Patriarchy re-initiated those Epiphany ceremonies, which are traditionally held in two dates: Easter and the Epiphany (manifest) holiday.
Right next to the baptism site resides Saint John's monastery, whish is also called “Qasr al Yehud” - the palace of the Jews.
"The Baptism site is loaded with historical, religious and emotional meaning for many people around the world, and encapsulates great tourism potential” Says Mozi Dahman, Head of “Megillot” regional council - “We invite religious tourism – both Jewish and Christian to come to the Dead Sea and touch their sources.”
The Baptism site is situated in between two regional councils of Israel: The Jordan Valley regional council, and the Dead Sea Megillot (scrolls) regional council, on the west bank of the Jordan river, about 10 Kilometers east of Hebron, and is maintained by the Israeli Parks and Nature authority.
In recent years, the Qasr Al Yahud park has gone through a 3 million shequel renovation, and its opening hours have been extended.
The way from highway 90 to the baptism site and south, passes through what is known as “the monastery land”, which is filled with monasteries dated back to the 4th century.
Visiting the “Monastery land” and baptism site has to be coordinated with the Israeli parks and nature authority by fax: +972-2-9947815.
The baptism site is open to the crowd - free of charge – on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 9 AM and 1 PM.
Guided tours (for a fee) may be coordinated with the Israeli parks and nature authority by telephone: +972-2-6541255.
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