Bethany Beyond the Jordan is historically thought to be the site where John the Baptist lived, preached, and baptized many, including Jesus Christ. Recent archaeological discoveries have confirmed the site as that of John the Baptist, and there are many archaeological treasures to be seen here.
John the Baptist, last prophet of the Old Testament manner prophets, and first prophet of the New Testament, began preaching in Jordan, but was fearful of reprisal for his sermons, so he made for Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Here too, he preached and feared reprisal, but so strong was his faith that the “Redeemer” was coming that he convinced many to repent, cleanse their souls, and to be baptized in the waters of his cave.
Byzantine and Medieval texts identify the site as Tall Al-Kharrar and Elijah’s Hill. Modern archaeology also confirms this site. Archaeological finds dating to the most recent unearthing and explorations (begun in earnest in 1996) have found coins, pottery, and pieces of buildings dating to a 5th century Byzantine monastery. There are also archaeological finds dating back to what may be the earliest Christian prayer hall: a 3rd century building with beautiful, intricate mosaics. The cave where John the Baptist lived has also been identified, and is in process of being explored and preserved for future generations. The cave, in John’s day, was turned into a church, and the freshwater channel that ran from the cave then (and was used for the many baptisms) still runs today, and is open to the public for viewing
Bethany Beyond the Jordan is a spiritual home for many, as it is the place where Jesus himself was baptized many years ago. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, everyday people, and people of many different faiths come to visit this historically significant place each year. Be sure to include Bethany Beyond the Jordan on your itinerary!