Biblical Jordan

person riding on white camel near mountain

The eastern banks of the Jordan River are home to no fewer than 100 sites of biblical importance. From Abraham and Moses to John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, the founding fathers of the three monotheistic traditions are all intimately tied to the Jordanian landscape. Even if you’re not a religious person by nature, visiting sites of biblical significance can be an incredibly moving and even spiritual experience.

The following list presents a brief overview of the most famous biblical sites in Jordan:

Dead Sea

Biblical reference: …while the water flowing down to the Sea of Arabah was completely cut off… (Joshua 3:16)

Jebel Haroun

Biblical reference: Remove Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar, for Aaron will be gathered to his people: he will die there. Moses did as the Lord commanded: they went up to Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community (Numbers 10:26–27)

Historical record: Mount Hor is believed to be Jebel Haroun in Petra, which is also revered by Muslims as a holy place.

Lot’s Cave

Biblical reference: Now Lot went up out of Zo’ar, and dwelt in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to dwell in Zo’ar; so he dwelt in a cave with his two daughters (Genesis 19:30)

Historical record: the cave where Lot and his daughters lived for years after Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt is thought to be just off the Dead Sea Highway, not far from Safi.


Biblical reference: The King was sad, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he gave orders that her request be granted, and had John beheaded in the prison (Matthew 14:9–12)

Historical record: John the Baptist had claimed that Herod Antipas’ marriage to his brother’s wife, Herodias, was unlawful. So, at the request of Salome, Herodias’ daughter, John was killed.

Mt Nebo

Biblical reference: Go up into…Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die (Deuteronomy 32:49–50)

Historical record: Mt Nebo is revered as a holy place because it is where Moses is reported to have died, although his tomb has never been found.


Baptism Site of Jesus

Biblical reference: Then Jesus came from the Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John (Matthew 3:13)

Historical record: Tell al-Kharrar is regarded as Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan where Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist.

Umm Qais

Biblical reference: When he [Jesus] arrived at the other side in the region of Gadarenes, two demon possessed men coming from the tombs met him (Matthew 8:28–34)

Historical record: Umm Qais is known as Gadara in the Bible, as well as in other ancient scriptures.

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