Jordan

Concise Bible Dictionary:

The river of Palestine is first referred to when Lot chose the plain of Jordan, because it was well watered, as the garden of the Lord (Gen. 13:1010And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. (Genesis 13:10)). The first great event at the river was when the waters from above were driven back, and those below failed and were cut off, and Israel marched over on dry land. They had previously passed through the Red Sea, but the details of the two passages are quite different. At the Red Sea Moses lifted up his rod and the waters divided; but at the Jordan it was when the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the water that it divided. The ark also remained in the river until all had passed over. Twelve stones were taken out of the river to form a cairn on the land, and twelve stones were placed in the bed of the river to be covered by the water. The waters were piled up at Adam, some twenty miles from where the Israelites crossed; but at the Red Sea the water was as a wall on each side (Josh. 3:8-178And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan. 9And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God. 10And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan. 12Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man. 13And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap. 14And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; 15And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) 16That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. 17And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan. (Joshua 3:8‑17); Josh. 4:1-241And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, 2Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, 3And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night. 4Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: 5And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: 6That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? 7Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. 8And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. 9And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day. 10For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over. 11And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the Lord passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people. 12And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them: 13About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the Lord unto battle, to the plains of Jericho. 14On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life. 15And the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, 16Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan. 17Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan. 18And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before. 19And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. 20And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. 21And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? 22Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. 23For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: 24That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever. (Joshua 4:1‑24)). (The waters being piled up “at Adam” [Josh. 3:1616That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. (Joshua 3:16)] is according to the Hebrew text [see also RV and Mr. Darby’s Trans.]; the reading “from Adam” is according to the Keri.)
All this was typical: the passage of the Red Sea typified Christ dying for the believer (by which the believer escapes death and judgment); the passage of the Jordan typified the believer dying with Christ, and being raised with Him (the path of death becomes the path of life), according to Colossians 2:2020Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Colossians 2:20) and Colossians 3:11If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1). The waters of the river overflowing its banks at that time typified that the full power of death was met, and overcome by the death and resurrection of Christ. The Jordan, itself has often been taken as a type of death having to be passed in order to enter heaven; but it is rather a figure of the entrance, while on earth, through death with Christ to the heavenly position of the Christian, where he has to stand for the Lord in conflict with spiritual powers of wickedness (compare Eph. 6:10-1810Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (Ephesians 6:10‑18)), as Israel had to fight the Canaanites, and so make good the Lord’s possession through them of the promised land.
The Jordan may further be regarded as the boundary of the promised land, so that the two and a half tribes who stayed on the east of the Jordan stopped short of their privileges. They are a type of many Christians who do not in faith accept the heavenly portion, through death and resurrection, that God intends for them. They are thus more exposed to the attacks of the enemy, as were the two and a half tribes who were the first to be carried into captivity.
The Jordan is like no other river in the world. The Hebrew name for it, Yarden, always has the article, and signifies “the Descender.” It is remarkable for the great fall it has from its source to the Dead Sea. It may be said to have three sources: the highest near Hasbeiya, between Hermon and Lebanon, some 1700 feet above the level of the sea; the second, near the ruins of Banias, the ancient Caesarea-Philippi; and the third near Tell el Kady, the ancient Dan. The three streams unite with other smaller ones and enter a large morass issuing in the lake of Huleh, which is also called “the waters of Merom.” This is estimated to be seven feet above the level of the sea. The Jordan issues from the lake in a stream about a hundred feet wide, running south. About two miles from the lake is a bridge called Jisr Benat Yakub, “Bridge of Jacob’s Daughters,” where Jacob is supposed to have crossed. Its banks from this point contract, and the stream rushes violently down a rocky bed, but gets more gentle before it reaches the Lake of Gennesaret. The distance from lake to lake is about ten miles, but the windings of the river make its length about thirteen miles. The Lake of Gennesaret is 682 feet below the level of the sea, giving a fall of 689 feet in the thirteen miles.
The river leaves this lake about a hundred feet wide and soon passes the remains of a Roman bridge. Some six miles from the lake is a bridge called Jisr el Mujamia. The river here is deep and rapid; but about fifteen miles farther south an island divides the river and there it is often fordable, as it is also near Jericho, and at low water in many other places. Another bridge is called Jisr ed Damieh, about 32° 6' N. The river’s greatest width is mentioned as 180 yards and it is about three feet deep on entering the Dead Sea. This is 1292 feet below the level of the sea, being 610 below the Lake of Gennesaret; the distance is about 65 miles, but the water-way has been estimated to be as much as 200 miles: during its course it has 27 rapids. There are several streams that run into the Jordan both on the east and the west. The two principal ones are on the east: the Yarmuk or Wady Hieromax and the Jabbok, now called Wady Zerka. They are both at times called rivers.
The valley in which the Jordan runs is called the Ghor. On the east it is bounded by a high table land and on the west by high hills. In the valley is a terrace of vegetation, and in the middle of this are the true banks of the river, having in places a jungle of willows, reeds, canes, and such like. See SALT SEA.

Jackson’s Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names:

their descent