Jordan: the religious sites of the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea, an exceptional natural phenomenon, but also a spiritual place… It seems to have given the salt, the alpha and the omega of the three monotheisms. Mentioned in the Koran, the Old as in the New Testament under the terms of “Sea of ​​Lot”, “Salt Sea” or “Eastern Sea”, its shores are a real concentration of my (s) t (h) iques places . The West Bank slope revealed the dead sea scrolls, oldest known biblical texts (from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD). Some fragments are kept at the Jordan Museum in Amman. Religious tourism is flourishing here, follow the guide for a Jordanian overview ...

The Jordan, high place of baptism

 “… Then Jesus appears. He had come from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. ”(Matthew 3: 2, 13).

Bethany (El-Maghtas), place of the baptism of Christ, was very early object of pilgrimage. From the 4th century, the mother of the emperor Constantine had a church built there. From the remains of this sanctuary, a long staircase descends to the baptismal basin, now desperately dry.

Never mind, the Jordan bed, largely narrowed since, has been arranged a few hundred meters accessible from the Jordanian and West Bank sides. The border, everywhere else hypersecure, is here

Faith or superstition do the rest: some immerse themselves completely once, twice, three times, signing themselves who before, who during, who after ...

See Mount Nebo and die

“… Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo… and the Lord showed him all the land which he had sworn to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob… Moses died there, according to the command of the Lord. Eternal… ”(Deuteronomy, 34, 1-9).

So this is where Moses would have died after God showed him the Promised Land. The top of Mount Nebo offers a magnificent view of the Dead Sea, Judea and the Jordan Valley.

A sanctuary houses a superb mosaic from the 4th century. In front, a huge sculpture evokes the miracle of the source accomplished by Moses in a nearby valley. “Moussa asked for rain for his people and we said to him: 'Strike the stone with your staff'. Twelve springs gushed out of them and all the people knew where to drink. "(Quran II-60)

About ten kilometers away, the pleasant town of Madaba, predominantly Christian, is proud of churches paved with admirable mosaics on biblical themes.

Machéronte: where John the Baptist lost his head.

“O Yahya, hold fast to the Book (the Torah)! We gave him wisdom as a child. »(Sura 19, verse 12).

John the Baptist for Catholics, Yahya for Muslims, is a presumed cousin Jewish preacher of Jesus. John redeems sins by baptism in the Jordan. However, he annoys King Herod Antipas by publicly criticizing his marriage to Herodias, his sister-in-law. Marc recounts the rest in his Gospels (Mk 6:21): "Herod sent a guard to behead John in his prison, place his head on a tray and present it to the young dancer - Salomé - who offered it to his mother Herodias" .

A takeoff that inspired many painters, as well as the opera Salomé à Richard Strauss and his famous dance of the seven veils. Now, only survivors of Machéronte (Mukawir) a few columns as old as Herod (in the proper sense of the term), gaze out at the Dead Sea below. The panorama is sublime ...

Lot's cave

At the south-eastern end of the lake, you reach the bottom of the Great Jordanian Rift. A museum marks there the lowest point measured on earth (420 m below sea level).

Above is the Lot's cave. If you missed it, here's a quick review of the facts ...

Sodom is a little too gay for the taste of God who decides to put a little order there (Koran 07 - 79: "Will you abuse men instead of women to satisfy your carnal appetites?"). He orders the righteous Lot to flee the city with his family, without looking back. But Madame (Edith) cannot resist the urge to see the rain of sulfur and fire fall on Sodom ... She turns around and there she is transformed into a pillar of salt. Some pious souls attribute the salinity of the Dead Sea to the fact that Lot would have "buried" this statue there.

La caves is where Lot would have taken refuge with his daughters, to whom he will give children (virtuous, we said?), thus ensuring the lineage. The interior cannot be visited, so people come mainly for the symbol and a beautiful view overlooking the plain enamelled with a pretty patchwork of colorful market garden plots.

In the distance, the Dead Sea, bahr-Lût (Sea of ​​Lot) in Arabic. Beyond, the Israeli and Palestinian shores, also rich in biblical episodes ... Another adventure!

Find all the practical information, tips and addresses in the Jordan Routard in bookstores.

Consult our Jordan online guide

 Addresses and practical information in our report The Dead Sea: a unique universe

Audio Video Jordan: the religious sites of the Dead Sea
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