Jordan: From Origins to the Dead Sea
The Jordan Valley begins south of the Lebanese Valley. Very often, the proper name of a river, mountain or hill in Hebrew can reveal to us many of the real features of the place. Jordan in Hebrew – Yarden. The root yored is descending. It is impossible to more concisely and clearly convey the essence of this river. In addition, it is the only river in Israel that flows from North to South, and not from East to West. The Jordan feeds mainly on the melt snow of Mount Hermon. Some peaks of the Hermon Range are covered with eternal snows, and in winter almost the entire range disappears under a thick white blanket. Somewhere, during the Passover period, the melting begins, which nourishes the sources of the Jordan. The Jordan has three main tributaries: Hatzbani, Dan, and Banias. The highest height of Hermon is 2.814 meters. The height of the peak located on Israeli territory is 2.223 meters. The Jordan falls into the Dead Sea, and its mouth lies 400 meters below sea level. Since the length of the river itself in a straight line is about 150 km, one can imagine how fast its waters flow.And this stream, which in Russia would be called a stream, or even a large stream, is actually a very effective natural barrier. Before the era of stone, iron and concrete bridges, and of course, helicopters, crossing the Jordan was a very extraordinary, and sometimes dangerous event.
So, after the merger of all three tributaries, the Jordan begins its way down to the South. Initially, on his way there is a wide valley, locked between the mountains of Galilee and the Golan Heights, called the Hula Valley, named after a small lake in its middle. The length of the valley is 75 km., Width – 12 km. On three sides it is surrounded by mountains: in the East – the Golan plateau, in the West – the Naftali mountains, in the North – the Lebanese mountains. Since ancient times, the valley was famous for its fertility, thanks to the magnificent combination of hot climate, plenty of water and very rich alluvial land. In the 2nd millennium BC, on the hill dominating the central part of the valley was the town of Hatzor. The book of Jehoshua about him says: “And Hazor was the head of all these principalities before” (Jehoshua, 11:10). Indeed, the wealth of the surrounding lands and proximity to important international roads of that time enabled the city princes to create a strong and powerful state that could afford the maintenance of a well-trained army armed, among other things, with a large number of war chariots. At that time, it was no less serious than the presence of tank divisions in our time, and therefore Hatzor caused a lot of trouble to our ancestors, until they realized that the chariots were as helpless in the swamps as modern tanks.
During periods of stagnation and desolation, the Hula Valley was a large swamp. One of the reasons that Jews were able to buy a lot of swampy lands from the Arabs in the first half of the 20th century was due to the fact that the Arab sheikhs and effendis were glad to get rid of them, since the Arabs did not know how to process them and did not receive large income. Jewish settlers, at the cost of tremendous efforts, suffering from malaria, which took life after life, were able to master and drain the Hula Valley. In the seventies, a reserve was opened in a small area inside Hula, which preserves the original flora and fauna. You can get acquainted with an example of the economy of that time in the museum-estate of Joab Dubrovin. This is a very interesting story of a Russian peasant from Astrakhan who accepted Judaism. He came to the Holy Land, taking with him everything necessary for agricultural work and the Torah Scroll. I bought 650 dunams of land and started a strong economy. Dubrovin brought the bull to the 1922 exhibition, put it on the scales, the springs burst and the scales fell apart. The bull was the hardest in the Galilee. Malaria claimed the lives of two of his sons. But when the 95-year-old Yoav was asked if he regrets coming here, he said: “I have one consolation that my grandchildren will be able to read the Bible in Hebrew. “I came to the Holy Land not for profit, but out of love for the Creator.” In addition, in the museum you can find other materials related to settlement activities in the area: about Yeshud ha-Ma’ala – 1883, Mishmar ha-Yarden – 1890, Metule – 1896, Mahanaim – 1898 g., and post-war settlements Kfar Gil’adi, Tel Hai, Aelet ha-Shahar. Before the war, 17 Jewish settlements were created in the valley.
But let’s continue about the Jordan … He continues his run to the South. After the Hula Valley, its channel narrows somewhat, and for some time its waters run along a rather narrow gorge. But here the mountains of Galilee recede to the West, the Golan – to the East, and before our eyes the magnificent sparkling expanse of Lake Kinneret opens.
Tens of millions of years ago, a unique geological phenomenon occurred in nature, as a result of which the earth’s crust unfolded over a distance of 6.5 thousand km and a crack formed, called the Great Syrian-African Fault. Part of it is located on our territory. The fault formed a number of reservoirs with unique qualities: the Jordan River, Kinneret Lake and the Dead Sea.