Yardenit, Israel

The Yardenit Baptismal Site ("Yardenit") is located on a pretty stretch of the Jordan River near the southern tip of Lake of Gennesaret. Above is the entrance to Yardenit, which in Hebrew means "Little Jordan." Below is Yardenit during a lull in between tour bus arrivals.


YardenitEvery year, over half million Christians from around the world flock to Yardenit to visit and/or be baptized "at this "place" where Jesus was baptized 2,000 years ago, as the site proudly displays (right).

Is Yardenit really the place where Jesus was baptized?

The Bible says, "John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins" (Mark 1:4-5). So John was baptizing in the Jordan River in the region of "Judea" in the vicinity of "Jerusalem," which is about 100 kilometers south of Yardenit. The Bible also says, "Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him" (Matthew 3:13), so the region of Galilee, in which Yardenit is located, is where Jesus departed from to be baptized by John in the region of Judea.

Then why is Yardenit promoted as the place of Jesus' baptism?

Until the Six-Day War of 1967, Qasr al-Yahud, located a few miles north of where the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea, was considered the location of Jesus' baptism. After the Six-Day War, the southern stretch of Jordan River became the mined, closed and militarized border between Israel and the country of Jordan, making Qasr al-Yahud inaccessible. To provide an alternative site that can be visited, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism funded Kibbutz Kinneret, a Jewish farming cooperative, to build Yardenit in 1981. Kibbutz Kinneret continues to own, expand and operate Yardenit.

Why does a Jewish kibbutz operate a site that commemorates Jesus' baptism?

Yardenit runs its half million annual visitors through a gift shop the size of a department store floor (below). Yardenit also has a large indoor restaurant, an outdoor snack bar, for-pay toilets and showers, and to get baptized at Yardenit, you must pay $25 to buy or $10 to rent Yardenit's flimsy white gown; no non-Yardenit flimsy white gowns allowed!

Yardenit Gift Shop

Yardenit Bible QuoteNeed a pastor to baptize you?

No problem, as one can be called to come for a "donation" of 100 US dollars. Those with deeper pockets can help Yardenit cement its image as Jesus' baptismal site by paying $8,000 to "donate" a translation of Mark 1:9-11 - 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” (right) - to a wall that Yardenit is building around itself (below).

Yardenit Wall Of Life

What about Qasr al-Yahud?

It re-opened in 2011 but the Jordan River there is muddy brown, the infrastructure isn't as developed, and Qasr al-Yahud doesn't have the marketing muscle of Yardenit, which separates money from Christians with impressive entrepreneurial vigor.

What did John the Baptist say about greed and to whom?

Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.” Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Luke 3:7-17)