Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Qasr Al-Yahud and Joshua's crossing?

JEWISH PILGRIMAGE MINEFIELD TOO: CROSSING THE JORDAN. A Christian pilgrimage site called Qasr al Yahud has started drawing Jewish visitors, attracted by its biblical history (Sara Toth Stub, Tablet Magazine). The site is thought by some to be where Jesus was baptized, so it has attracted Christian pilgrims since late antiquity.
There is no known historical or textual evidence of Jewish pilgrimage to the site in ancient times, in Talmudic times, or even during the Second Temple period, according to Rehav Rubin, a professor of geography who specializes in maps and pilgrimages of the Holy Land.

“Jews never came to Qasr al Yahud in the past centuries as pilgrims, it’s only something just from the last decade,” said Lior Chen, a graduate student in anthropology at Hebrew University who is completing a dissertation and fieldwork on the site. In his research Chen has found that motivations of the Jewish visitors range from interest in the Bible to politics to simply getting a close-up view of the border with Jordan, which is just a few meters across the water from Qasr al Yahud, demarcated by a rope running down the middle of the river.
Despite the lack of historical precedent, the site is becoming a pilgrimage site for Jews in commemoration of the biblical story of the Israelites' crossing of the Jordan under Joshua. This only started when the site reopened in 2011.

For background on Qasr Al-Yahud, its Christian pilgrimage tradition, and the ongoing de-mining project there, start here and follow the links.

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