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THE VALLEY OF THE JORDAN

GREAT RIFT OF THE JORDAN VALLEY.

Flanking this broken plateau of Galilean, Samaritan and Judean hills on its eastern side, we find the fourth great strip in the make-up of Palestine, the incredible crater of the Jordan Valley.

Starting from the northern foothills that are the fading ends of Mount Hermon, 

THE JORDAN RIVER has a fall of over 1700 feet from Caesarea Philippi to the Sea of Galilee, where the surface is 682 feet below sea-level. From the south end of the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, the river curves to and fro in its course of 200 miles (although only 65 miles in a straight line) and drops another 1000 feet. It is very clear how correct is the name of Jordan, which means "the descender." This valley is by far the deepest land trench on the face of the earth. Geologically it is connected across the Red Sea with the central African lakes. Fish are found in the Lakeof Galilee and in the central African lakes that are found nowhere else in the world.

Hot volcanic springs flow in at different points, especially near Capernaum, where the remains of Roman aqueducts show that they were treasured for their healing powers, while farther down on the west shore of the lake other hot springs were incorporated by Herod the Great in the thermal baths of his Golden Palace, and these springs were used for healing in Jesus' day, as they still are.

We will now follow the geography of the valley from north to south, thinking of it in terms of the life of Jesus:

CAESAREA PHILIPPI was built at the point where the infant stream cascaded from the foot of a cliff under Mount Hermon. Here Jesus retired from the fierce hostility of Herod Antipas to the country that was under the milder rule of Philip the Tetrarch. The actual city was new in Jesus' time, having been built by Philip, who was reigning during Jesus' ministry. He called it " Philippi " after himself and " Caesarea " in honor of the Roman emperor. Up till then, under Greek influence, it was called Panias (the city of Pan). A Greek inscription carved in the face of the cliff was there in Jesus' time and still exists, declaring that " Pan and his nymphs haunt this place." The lively, sparkling stream, the overhanging trees, the towering cliff and the mountain background make it a scene of exquisite beauty and of majesty.

This gushing stream, together with others in these foothills, carries three-quarters of the water from the snows of Mount Hermon into the Jordan Valley. They form the baby river that flows at this stage in a wide valley and meanders through a shallow malarial marsh famous for its papyrus and Lake Huleh.

From Lake Huleh, which is 4 miles long, the infant Jordan surges swiftly down through a narrow gorge to open out at the mouth formed at the north end of the Sea of Galilee by the soil carried down by the river. On the eastern side of this mouth the flats are constantly covered by green grass. This accounts for the fact that two of the Gospel writers, describing the feeding of the multitude, mention the greenness of the grass, which indicates how unusual this was in Palestine.

THE SEA OR LAKE OF GALILEE is shaped like a pear, 8 miles wide (at the northern end) and just over 12 miles long. To visualize the Lake in Jesus' day' we need to reconstruct the cities and towns so busily employed around its shores, and the multitude of fishing boats sailing on the vividly blue waters, casting their nets to provide the famous Galilean salt fish that had become a delicacy of the Roman world. Of the Lake-side cities at that time the largest and newest, named TIBERIAS after the Emperor, was avoided by orthodox Jews, because part of it was built on an old cemetery.

CAPERNAUM at the north end of the Lake, the city which Jesus made the center of His ministry, was more important than Tiberias because one of the great arterial routes of traffic of the Roman world ran through it. The camel caravans coming down from Damascus and crossing the upper Jordan by the Bridge of the Daughters of Jacob (which still exists reconstructed) paid custom taxes at Capernaum before going on to Jerusalem or Egypt. Jesus called Matthew to be His disciple as he was " sitting at the receipt of custom " as a servant of the Roman government at Capernaum.

On the steep eastern shore toward the north end of the Lake are the GADARENE slopes where the swine ran down into the sea. The presence of swine (animals prohibited to the Jews as food) and the demoniac's statement that his name was " Legion " point to the fact that behind the hill was the great encampment of the Roman legions, signs of which can still be traced at the present day.

As the River Jordan runs rapidly down beyond the south end of the Sea of Galilee it receives from the east the turbulent RIVER YARMUK. This branch, that flows down from Transjordania, is almost as large as the Jordan itself at that point. The river is again met, 20 miles north of the Dead Sea, by the RIVER JABBOK, which also flows into it from the East from the hills of Gilead. As we head south toward the Dead Sea we reach Jericho.

THE CITY OF JERICHO stood in Jesus' time in the valley far up from the river to the west. The presence of that city and its frequent rebuilding after siege and earthquake was and is due to the beautiful Fountain of Elisha, as the perpetual spring is called. Jericho, before the birth of Jesus, had been largely rebuilt by Herod the Great, with a citadel, hippodrome and other buildings in the massive Hellenic-Roman style. Actually it had been possessed by Queen Cleopatra of Egypt during part of her lifetime. She died in the year 30 B.C. Herod died in Jericho soon after Jesus' birth, and during his last hours was so bothered by realizing the joy with which the news of his death would be received that he decreed the massacre of a large number of Jews to take place immediately on his death. The decree was never carried out.

The "pride of Jordan," spoken of in the Old Testament, refers to the tremendous flood of waters that comes down when the snows of Hermon are melting fast and rains are falling on the hills of Transjordania. At that time the river is swollen from its summer width of 75 or 100 feet until it reaches sometimes even 1mile in width.

The site of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan is not at all certain. The traditional place is not very far from the Dead Sea, almost opposite Jericho; and there pilgrims go, although this is not the likely place.

The Jordan flows into THE DEAD SEA. This strange Lake is very unique. Its waters lie 1,292 feet below the surface of the ocean. The bottom of the sea is 1,278 feet lower still. Six to eight million tons of vapor rise into the hot air every day from the Dead Sea. For it has no outlet. It holds many chemicals in vast quantities in its belly. Chloride of magnesium makes it bitter. Chloride of calcium makes it feel oily. Great salt cliffs six hundred feet high on the south-west were the source of the salt of which Jesus speaks, used to preserve the Galilean fish and the housewife's stores of food. Above the eastern shore on a great mass of rock Herod built his castle of Machaerus, in which John the Baptist was imprisoned.

The Life of Jesus

The Life of Jesus

Background

Summary

Geography

Daily Life

Architecture

People

Religion

Roman Empire

Miracles of Jesus

Parables of Jesus

Names of Jesus

Deity of Jesus

The Messiah

4 Gospel Accounts

Topics

Timelines

Charts

Maps


An Outline of The Life of Jesus in Harmony

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"I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself, Caesar, and Alexander should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant - Jesus should be able to stretch his hands across the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations."  - Napoleon I Bonaparte (1809)

The Life of Jesus Map
 

The Birth of John the Baptist

Jerusalem

Gabriel Announces John's Birth (Lk 1:5-25)

The History of the Birth of Jesus

The Genealogy of Jesus (Mat 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38).

Nazareth

Gabriel Announces to Mary (Lk 1:26-38).

Mary Visits Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-56).

An Angel Comes to Joseph (Mat 1:18-25)

Bethlehem

The Decree of Augustus Caesar and the Birth of Christ (Lk 2:1-7). jesus00000019.gif

The First Visitors - Shepherds (Lk 2:8-20).

The Second Visitors - Magi (Mat 2:1-12).

Jerusalem

Jesus is Circumcised and Presented in the Temple (Lk 2:21-38). jesus00000019.gif

Egypt

Out of Egypt (Mat 2:13-23).

Nazareth

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Jesus' Early Years

Jerusalem

The Boy Jesus at the Temple (Lk 2:41-52). jesus00000019.gif

The Beginning of His Ministry

The Jordan

Jesus is Baptized in the Jordan (Mat 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-23).

The Wilderness

The Temptation in the Wilderness (Mat 4:1-11; Mk 1:12, 13; Lk 4:1-13).

The Eternal Word (Jn 1:1-18).

The Testimony of John (Jn 1:19-34). jesus00000019.gif

The First Disciples (Jn 1:35-51).

Cana

Turning Water to Wine (Jn 2:1-12).

Jesus Visits Jerusalem jesus00000019.gif

The First Passover

Jerusalem

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A House of Merchandise (Jn 2:13-25).

Unless One is Born Again (Jn 3:1-21).

Jesus Baptizes (Jn 3:22, with 4:2).

Galilee

He Departed Again to Galilee  (Mat 4:12; Mk 1:14; Lk 4:14; Jn 4:1-3).

Samaria

The Woman at the Well (Jn 4:4-42).

Jesus' Ministry in Galilee jesus00000019.gif

Galilee

He Taught in Their Synagogues (Mt 4:17; Mk 1:14,15; Lk 4:14,15; Jn 4:43-45).

Nazareth

A Certain Nobleman (Jn 4:46-54)

Physician, Heal Yourself! (Mat 4:13-16; Lk 4:16-31).

Sea of Galilee

Peter, Andrew, James, and John (Mat 4:18-22; Mk 1:16-20; Lk 5:1-11).

Galilee

And Jesus Went About All Galilee . . Teaching (Mat 4:23-25; Mk 1:35-39, Lk 4:42-44).

A Man With an Unclean Spirit (Mk 1:21-28; Lk 4:31-37).

Capernaum

Simon's Wife's Mother Lay Sick (Mat 8:14-17; Mk 1:29-34; Lk 4:38-41).

Then a Leper Came to Him (Mat 8:2-4; Mk 1:40-45; Lk 5:12- 16).

They Brought to Him a Paralytic (Mat 9:2-8; Mk 2:1-12; Lk 5:17-26).

Capernaum

Matthew the Tax Collector (Mat 9:9; Mk 2:13, 14; Lk 5:27, 28).

The Second Passover

Jerusalem

Healing at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath Day (Jn 5:1-47). jesus00000019.gif

Healing in the Synagogue on the Sabbath Day (Mat 12:9-14; Mk 3:1-6, Lk 6:6-11).

And in His Name Gentiles Will Trust (Mat 12:15-21; Mk 3:7-12)

Then He Appointed Twelve (Mat 10:2-4; Mk 3:13-19; Lk 6: 12-19).

The Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5-7; Lk 6:20-49).

A Certain Centurion's Servant (Mat 8:5-13; Lk 7:1-10).

Nain

Jesus Raises the Dead Son at Nain (Lk 7:11-17).

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Are You the Coming One? (Mat 11:2-19; Lk 7:18-35).

My Yoke is Easy and My Burden is Light (Mat 11:20-30).

Capernaum

The Woman With the Alabaster Flask (Lk 7:36-50).

Mary Called Magdalene (Lk 8:1-3).

The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Mat 12:22-37; Mk 3: 19-30; Lk 11:14-20).

Teacher, We Want to See a Sign From You (Mat 12:38-45; Lk 11:16-36).

Woe to You, Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites (Lk 11:37-54).

He Began to Say to His Disciples (Lk 12:1-59).

Parable of the Fig Tree (Lk 13:6-9).

Parable of the Sower (Mat 13:1-23; Mk 4:1-25; Lk 8:4-18).

Many Such Parables (Mat 13:24-53; Mk 4:26-34).

Sea of Galilee

Jesus Rebukes the Storm (Mat 8:18-27; Mk 4:35-41; Lk 8:22-25).

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The Herd of Many Swine (Mat 8:28-33; Mk 5:1-21; Lk 8:26-40).

Nazareth

He Came Again to His Own City (Mat 9:1; Mk 5:21 Lk 8:40).

The Parable of the Wineskins (Mat 9:10-17; Mk 2:15-22; Lk 5:29-39).

Jairus' Daughter and the Woman With the Flow of Blood (Mat 9:18-26; Mk 5:22-43; Lk 8:41-56).

The Blind and the Mute (Mat 9:27-34).

A Prophet is Not Without Honor Except in His Own Country (Mat 13:53-58; Mk 6:1-6).

He Was Moved With Compassion For Them (Mat 9:35-38)

Sent His Disciples Out With Power and Authority (Mat 10; Mk 6:6-13, Lk 9:1-6).

Machaerus

John the Baptist is Beheaded (Mat 14:1, 2, 6-12, Mk 6:14-16, 21-29; Lk 9:7-9).

Near Bethsaida

The Disciples Return, Feeding Five Thousand (Mat 14:13-21; Mk 6:30-44; Lk 9:10-17, Jn 6:1-14).

Sea of Galilee

They Saw Him Walking on the Sea (Mat 14:22-36; Mk 6:45-56; Jn 6:15-21).

Capernaum

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I Am the Bread of Life (Jn 6:22-65).

Do you also want to go away? (Jn 6:66-71).

Unwashed Hands (Mat 15:1-20; Mk 7:1-23).

A Woman of Canaan (Mat 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-30). jesus00000019.gif

Then Great Multitudes Came to Him (Mat 15:29-31, Mk 7:31-37).

Feeding Four Thousand (Mat 15:32-39; Mk 8:1-9).

Seeking From Him a Sign From Heaven (Mat 16:1-4; Mk 8:10-12).

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The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Mat 16:4-12; Mk 8:13-21).

Bethsaida

Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida (Mk 8:22-26).

Caesarea Philippi

Jesus Reveals Who He is at Caesarea Philippi (Mat 16:13-20; Mk 8:27-30; Lk 9:18-21).

He Must Go to Jerusalem and Be Killed (Mat 16:21-28; Mk 8:31-38; 9:1; Lk 9:21-27).

And He Was Transfigured (Mat 17:1-13; Mk 9:2-13; Lk 9:28-36).

And Jesus Rebuked the Demon (Mat 17:14-21; Mk 9:14-29; Lk 9:37-43).

Speaks Again of His Death (Mat 17:22, 23; Mk 9:30-32; Lk 9:43-45).

Capernaum

Miracle of the Coin in the Fish's Mouth (Mat 17:24-27).

Which One is the Greatest? (Mat 18:1-35; Mk 9:33-50; Lk 9:46-50).

He Who is Not Against Us is On Our Side (Mk 9:38, 39; Lk 9:49, 50).

The Feast of Tabernacles

Jerusalem

Set His Face to Go to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51-62; Jn 7:2-11).

The Lord Appointed Seventy Others (Lk 10:1-16).

The Ten Lepers (Lk 17:11-19).

Teaches in the Temple at the Feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7:14-53; 8:1-59).

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37). jesus00000019.gif

The Report of the Seventy (Lk 10:17-24).

Bethany

The House of Mary and Martha (Lk 10:38-42).

Jesus Teaches His Disciples to Pray (Lk 11:1-13).

The Feast of Dedication

Jerusalem

I Was Blind, Now I See (Jn 9:1-41).

My Sheep Hear My Voice (Jn 9:39-41; 10:1-21).

They Picked Up Stones To Stone Him (Jn 10:22-39).

Bethabara

Beyond the Jordan (Jn 10:40-42; 11:3-16).

Bethany

Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead (Jn 11:1-46).

Ephraim

The Declaration of Caiaphas (Jn 11:47-54). jesus00000019.gif

Judea

The Woman Who Was Bent Over (Mat 19:1, 2; Mk 10:1; Lk 13:10-35).

Take the Lowest Seat (Lk 14:1-24).

Count the Cost (Lk 14:25-35).

More Parables, Prodigal Son (Lk 15:1-32; 16:1-13).

Exposes the Hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Lk 16:14-18).

The Rich Man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31).

Increase Our Faith (Lk 17:1-10).

Teaches the Pharisees About the Coming of the Kingdom (Lk 17:20-37).

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The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:1-14).

Marriage and Divorce (Mat 19:3-12; Mk 10:2-12).

Let the Little Children Come to Me (Mat 19:13-15; Mk 10:13-16; Lk 18:15-17).

Rich Young Ruler (Mat 19:16-22; Mk 10:17-22; Lk 18:18-24).

The Parable of the Vineyard (Mat 20:1-16).

Again Foretelling His Death (Mat 20:17-19; Mk 10:32-34; Lk 18:31-34).

Can I Sit at Your Right Hand? (Mat 20:20-28; Mk 10:35-45).

Jericho

Blind Bartimaeus (Mat 20:29-34; Mk 10:46-50; Lk 18:35-43).

Zacchaeus who was a Chief Tax Collector (Lk 19:1-10).

The Parable of the Minas (Lk 19:11-28).

Bethany

Mary Anoints the Feet of Jesus (Jn 12:1-9).

Jerusalem

Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Mat 21:1-11; Mk 11:1-11; Lk 19:29-44; Jn 12:12-19).

Jesus Enters the Temple (Mat 21:12, Mk 11:11; Lk 19:45).

Drives the Vendors Out of the Temple (Mat 21:12, 13; Lk 19:45, 46).

The Blind and Lame Came to Him (Mat 21:14).

He Was Teaching Daily in the Temple (Lk 19:47, 48).

The Withered Fig Tree (Mat 21:17-22; Mk 11:12-14, 20-22).

The Parable of the Two Sons (Mat 21:28-31);

The Parable of the Vinedressers (Mat 21:33-46; Mk 12:1-12; Lk 20:9-19);

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The Parable of the Great Supper (Mat 22:1-14; Lk 14:16-24).

Tested By the Pharisees (Mat 22:15-22; Mk 12:13-17; Lk 20:20-26). jesus00000019.gif

Tested By the Sadducees (Mat 22:23-33; Mk 12:18-27; Lk 20:27-40);

Tested By a Lawyer (Mat 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-34).

Beware of the Scribes and the Pharisees (Mat 23; Mk 12:38-40; Lk 20:45-47).

A Certain Poor Widow (Mk 12:41-44; Lk 21:1-4).

The Prophecy of Isaiah About their Blindness (Jn 12:37-50).

Foretells the Destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem (Mat 24; Mk 13; Lk 21:5-36).

He Saw the City and Wept Over It (Mat 23:37; Lk 19:41-44).

The Parables of the Ten Virgins and The Talents (Mat 25:1-30).

The Sheep and the Goats (Mat 25:31-46).

Anointed with the Flask of Spikenard (Mat 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; Jn 12:1-8).

The Last Passover

Jerusalem

The Last Passover (Mat 26:17-30; Mk 14:12-25; Lk 22:7-20).

Began to Wash the Disciples' Feet (Jn 13:1-17).

The Hand of My Betrayer is With Me (Mat 26:23; Mk 14:18-21; Lk 22:21; Jn 13:18).

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What You Do . . Do Quickly (Mat 26:21-25; Mk 14:18-21; Lk 22:21-23; Jn 13:21-30).

Teaches About the Holy Spirit (Jn 14; 15; 16).

Jesus' Intercession (Jn 17).

The Prayer in Gethsemane (Mat 26:30, 36-46; Mk 14:26, 32-42; Lk 22:39-46; Jn 18:1).

Betrayed and Taken (Mat 26:47-56; Mk 14:43-54, 66-72; Lk 22:47-53; Jn 18:2-12).

The Trial (Mat 26:57, 58, 69-75; Mk 14:53, 54, 66-72; Lk 22:54-62; Jn 18:13-18, 25-27).

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Delivered to Pilate (Mat 27:1, 2, 11-14; Mk 15:1-5; Lk 23:1-5; Jn 18:28-38).

He Sent Him to Herod (Lk 23:6-12).

Tried Before Pilate (Mat 27:15-26; Mk 15:6-15; Lk 23:13-25; Jn 18:39, 40; 19:1-16).

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Mocked by the Soldiers (Mat 27:27-31; Mk 15:16-20).

Crucifixion

Led Him Away to be Crucified (Mat 27:31-34; Mk 15:20-23; Lk 23:26-32; Jn 19:16, 17).

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Crucified (Mat 27:35-56; Mk 15:24-41; Lk 23:33-49; Jn 19:18-30). jesus00000019.gif

Joseph of Arimathea (Mat 27:57-66; Mk 15:42-47; Lk 23:50-56; Jn 19:31-42).

The Resurrection

He is Risen (Mat 28:2-15, Mk 16:1-11 Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18).

Has Appeared to Simon (Lk 24:34; 1Cor 15:5).

Road to Emmaus

Appears to Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Mk 16:12, 13: Lk 24:13-35).

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