Holy Land Baptism
On your Israel custom tour, one of the must-see sites for Christian and Jewish tourists is the newly opened site of Qasr El Yahud located on the Jordan River.
According to Christian tradition, this is the site where Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist. After the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, this site is considered the third holiest site in the Christian world.
Jewish tradition holds that this is the site of two significant events in the Old Testament. As noted in the book of Joshua 3:13, this is where the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered the Holy Land after 40 years of wandering in the desert. The Book of Kings II (2:18) attributes Qasr El-Yehud as the site ofÂ Elijaha’s ascension to heaven in a fiery chariot after he and Elisha crossed the Jordan.
During a recent visit on our Israel custom tour to Qasr El-Yehud, we witnessed the baptism of Church Elders of the Armenian Church as they immersed their bodies and heads in the Jordan River. We watched the holy ceremony from the shores of the Jordan River in Israel – but the ceremony took place across the waters in Jordan – less than 200 meters away.
At the same time on the Israel side, Franciscan monks led believers to the waters of the Jordan and poured the holy water onto outstretched hands.
As we stood at the edge of the Jordan River, an Israeli soldier kept a quiet watch on the people and activities, as did his Jordanian counterpart just a few meters away on the Jordanian side. Qasr El-Yahud, once a battle site and later, a site lined with mines it became a forbidden
zone to Israelis. Today, the site is peaceful with joint access to the holy waters of the Jordan River.