Qasr el Yahud

Qasr el Yahud

Qasr el Yahud (Arabic: قصر اليهود‎; also Kasser/Qasser al-Yahud/Yehud etc.; lit. “Castle of the Jews”, Hebrew: קאסר אל יהוד‎) is the official name of a baptism site in the Jordan River Valley in the West Bank.The site and facilities, under Israeli occupation, are administered by the Israeli Civil Administration and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism as part of a national park.

It is the western part of the traditional site of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17), in Arabic Al-Maghtas, a name which was historically used for the pilgrimage site on both sides of the river. It is also traditionally considered to be the place where the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, and the prophet Elijah ascended to heaven.

Etymology


The Arabic name of the baptism site is Al-Maghtas meaning “immersion” and, by extension, “baptism”, used for an area stretching over both banks of the river. The Jordanian side uses the names Al-Maghtas, Bethany beyond the Jordan and Baptism(al) Site, while the western part is known as Qasr el-Yahud. The nearby Greek Orthodox Monastery of St John the Baptist has a castle-like appearance (thus qasr, “castle”), and tradition holds that the Israelites crossed the river at this spot (thus el-Yahud, “of the Jews”).

Location


Qasr el-Yahud is located in the West Bank, a little southeast from Jericho and is part of the Jericho Governorate of Palestine.

History


Antiquity
Qasr el-Yahud is close to the ancient road and river ford connecting Jerusalem, via Jericho, to several Transjordanian biblical sites such as Madaba, Mount Nebo and the King’s Highway.

After 1967
The modern site reopened in 2011 after being closed since the 1967 Six-Day War. The restoration project was approved before the 2000 millennium celebrations but was delayed due to the Second Intifada and flooding in the region in 2003. In 2000, Pope John Paul II held a private worship at the site.

Qasr el Yahud is administered by the Israeli Civil Administration and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. Before the site became accessible, baptisms took place at Yardenit.

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