John the Baptist preached at Bethany, outside of Jerusalem:

John 1:28

This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Bethany is the same place that:

  • Jesus was baptized (See Matthew 3:13-17)
  • The Israelites entered into the promised land (See Joshua 3:1-4)
  • Elijah was taken up in a chariot of fire (See 2 Kings 2)

Did these things happen at the same place for a reason?

  • 1
    The significance of Bethany beyond the Jordan is that it's not Bethany on this (west) side of the Jordan. Also neither Joshua 3:1-4 nor 2 Kings 2 mention Bethany, so how do you know they happened there?
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 3 at 22:19
  • 1
    Ah, I see that there are Jewish traditions that Bethany beyond the Jordan was the place of the crossing and Elijah's ascension. But traditions like that are hardly conclusive.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 3 at 22:29
  • @curiousdannii It seems I was reading the Jewish traditions from another site, but I didn't realize they were traditions. Sorry about that. Mar 4 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


It is hard to know if the three places mentioned in the OP are truly all the same exact location. Of the three, only the site of John the Baptist's ministry is well established by tradition -- and even that is based mainly on the fact that a Byzantine monastery was established at the site.

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The traditional location of Bethany Beyond Jordan is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In terms of the place's spiritual significance in Old Testament times, it is associated with Joshua's crossing the Jordan and thereafter establishing twelve standing stones at Gilgal, where he led the Israelites in renewing the covenant of circumcision. (Joshua 5) Elijah's ascension into heaven took place soon after he and Elisha met a band of the "sons of the prophets" coming own from Gilgal in 2 Kings 2:1, but they go on first to Bethel and then to Jericho - then across the Jordan. So the precise location of the final event in Elijah's life is uncertain, but Bethany Beyond Jordan is a possibility.

Conclusion: Assuming all three places are the same, it is a logical conclusion that it was thought to be a place of power. John the Baptist may have chosen the location because of its association with Elijah, whom he clearly emulated. The theme of crossing the Jordan appears in all three examples mentioned in the OP. I would speculate that it represents a kind of dividing line - between and spiritual life and death (John the Baptist), heaven and earth (Elijah) or between the Promised Land and the realm outside of God's Covenant (Joshua).

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