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Geography of Israel: The Jordan River

The Jordan River is a major water source that flows through the Jordan Rift Valley into the Dead Sea. The Jordan only reaches 20 yards across in some places, and its deepest point is around 17 feet. It extends from tributaries at the base of Mount Hermon to its main source, the Kinneret, and then down to the Dead Sea. The river forms the boundary between the country of Jordan and the West Bank. The Jordan River is a key water source for Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon; water remains a central issue to the Middle East conflict. Israel and Jordan have signed treaties on Jordan River-related matters. For Israel, the water of the Jordan River is an absolute neccessity for drinking water and for irrigation.

The cultural and religious significance of the Jordan River is equal to that of its modern practical uses. In the Tanakh, the Jordan River is mentioned several times as a source of fertility for Israel. It is the place where Joshua and the tribes of Israel crossed into Jericho, and also the scene of many biblical battles. In Christian tradition, the Jordan is the scene of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Christian pilgrims can today visit the traditional site of the baptism at a place called Yardenit, at the point where the Jordan River flows out of the Kinneret.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry; Holy Land Network; Wikipedia