The River Jordan flows through Israel, Palestine and
Jordan. Along its route, it connects the Sea of
Galilee with the Dead Sea, and
of its total length of 320 kilometres, this stretch of
river between the two lakes is the part that is most
frequently referred to in the Bible.
It is thought that Jesus was baptised by John the
Baptist in the Jordan at the point where the
river flows out from the Sea of Galilee. This region has
therefore become a sacred site of pilgrimage for
Perhaps even more famously than its association with
Jesus' baptism, however, the River Jordan is also the
celebrated site of miraculous divine intervention.
According to Joshuah
temporarily dried up the River Jordan, supernaturally
interrupting its flow, in order to let the Israelites
cross the dry river bed into the Promised Land.
Today, as with most 'supernatural' events in the Bible,
various theories have been put forward to explain this
occurence in rational terms. Whatever the case, folk
memory is strong, and the crossing of the Jordan has gone
In the Rastafarian context, it has gone
one step further and become a powerful metaphor of the
fulfilment of a dream. Marcus Garvey's 'Back to Africa'
movement was partly inspired by a dynamic re-application
of the legend to the contemporary plight of Black
Africans in the Caribbean and USA. The Atlantic
Ocean became the 'Jordan River',
which could be crossed with God's help, allowing people
to reach the 'Promised Land' of the African continent.
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