Bethabara (Al-Maghtas) in Jordan

The place of baptism of Jesus Christ is called Bethabara (Al-Maghtas). It is located on the Bank of the Jordan river, on the territory of Jordan. Over the past 2 thousand years, the river has changed its course more than once, so there was a dispute between Israel and Jordan about the exact place of baptism. However, archaeological excavations indicate that Bethabara now is located in Jordan.

According to the new Testament of the Bible, John the Baptist preached in the Jordan desert in the place of Bethany beyond the Jordan. He was the forerunner of Jesus Christ and predicted the coming of the Messiah to the people. One day Jesus Christ came to the Bank of the Jordan river from Nazareth and received from John the rite of Baptism in the waters of the Jordan river.

In the gospel of Luke, the events that took place at this place are described as follows: "when all the people were baptized, and Jesus was baptized and prayed. The sky was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form, like a dove, and there was a voice from heaven, saying: You are My Beloved Son; in You I am well pleased."

During archaeological excavations in the territory of Jordan in the town of Al-Maghtas, a Byzantine monastery complex of the 5th century was found. There were more than 20 different temples, cisterns for the baptism of pilgrims. Archaeologists also found a marble slab where a column with a cross supposedly stood. According to numerous written testimonies of pilgrims who visited this place in the first centuries of our era, this slab was located at the site of the baptism of Jesus Christ.

Now this place is located a hundred meters from the current course of the Jordan river. The Greek Orthodox Church of John the Baptist was built nearby in 2005. The Church is built on the spot where Jesus left his clothes to plunge into the waters of the Jordan river. Nearby is the archaeological site of Tel-el-Harrar, which is called the Hill of the ascension of the prophet Elijah.

On the Israeli side, there is also a font on the Bank of the Jordan river where pilgrims can dip into the waters of the Jordan river. This place is called Qasir al-Yahud. If we look at the Madaba map (mosaic in the Church of the 6th century), the Place of the baptism of Jesus Christ is indicated on the West Bank, that is, on the Israeli side. However, if we consider that the Jordan changed its course many times during this time, it is now impossible to determine where the West Bank was two thousand years ago.