For Christian pilgrims and visitors to Israel, baptism in the River Jordan is often a highlight of their visit. Tens of thousands of Greek and Russian Orthodox Christians from around the world converge on Qasr el Yahud, near the Dead Sea, for the annual Feast of the Epiphany, which takes place on 18 and 19 January. The Feast of the Epiphany, or Theophany, which means “Manifestation of God,” celebrates Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist. According to the Christian religion, this baptism not only marked the beginning of Christ’s ministry but also revealed God as the Holy Trinity to the Christian world.
"In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove, and a voice came from heaven; ‘Thou art my beloved Son, with thee I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11:
Qasr el Yahud, the third most important site for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land (after the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Nativity), is considered to be the site where, according to the New Testament, John the Baptist baptized Jesus (Matthew, 3: 13-17). The site, which is also considered to be the place where the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan when they entered Canaan, has undergone much redevelopment in recent years to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the visiting pilgrims. Entrance is free.
Pilgrims and tourists can also experience or observe baptism in the River Jordan at Yardenit Baptismal Site, located on the banks of the Jordan River, where it flows out of the Sea of Galilee. Much of Jesus’s ministry took place around the Sea of Galilee and along the River Jordan, which abound with sites of biblical significance and historical importance. Entry to the wheelchair-accessible site is free and there is the opportunity to either rent or purchase white baptism robes upon arrival. There are quiet areas for contemplation and group prayers and great care is given to respecting the religious sensitivities of the site.