Friday, November 2, 2012

Kasr al Yahud, post #3

Here is my third successive post about the baptism site at the Jordan.
Please click once, then once again, to see any photo much enlarged.

 As we will see, there are many curious contrasts at Kasr al Yahud.
You get off your comfortable tour bus in the parking lot and maybe you will see an IDF army jeep there too.
It is a reminder that  you that you are 1) in the West Bank, 2)  just ten kilometers from Jericho which is in Area A where the Palestinian Authority has full control of security and civil administration, and 3) only a few meters across the river from Jordanian soldiers in watchtowers.

But no worries.  Just a few steps and you are greeted by this mannequin in the gift shop.

He is modeling the garment in which you might like to be baptized or to immerse in the Jordan.
Plenty of T shirts for sale too, like with  Holy Spirit doves, Israeli flags, and "I was baptized in the Jordan River."

Bring your white gown to the "Clothing cell."
This one is for "Woman's [sic]."

(Hey, this could be good for the Signs, Signs meme.)
I wonder how the translation fared in the other languages: Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Greek.
But the sign shows you the wide diversity of pilgrims who come to Kasr il Yahud. 

Hey, are those shower heads on top?

It was kind of surreal for me to watch people walking around in these gowns, and under the flag of the Jewish State too.
If a Christian dies and is buried in this Jordan-dipped gown, now become shroud, it guarantees eternal life.
At least that is the Christian belief that our group's  Israeli Jewish guide told about.
I have never heard this from a Christian source.  Have you?

Follow the arrow to the "Water entry point."
The new structures you see are meant to provide shade and shelter  for groups that come to have Mass or Divine Liturgy there.

Finally we get down to the river's edge.
At this point it is 380 meters below sea level.
Can you see the Jordanian flag flying just across the narrow river?
There are churches and monasteries on the other side too. 

As we were leaving Kasr al Yahud, I saw three men unloading an ice cream truck in the sweltering heat.
Talk about contrasts!   Ice cream in the desert!
Imagine how things could have turned out different if John the Baptist, Jesus, Joshua, and Elijah had come up from the Jordan and found such luxury . . . .


DawnTreader said...

Well, John ate wild honey. Perhaps he'd have liked ice-cream, had it been available... ;)

Saving the baptism-gown for a shroud is one thing (I've never heard of that though!) but judging by the colour of the water in a previous post, I'm guessing that one might actually want a shower afterwards...

Interesting series of posts, thanks for sharing.

anumorchy said...

The only thing I can say, that it is newer boring here! Don't You agree?

Dr M said...

Great series of posts. As for Jesus, John, and ice cream, maybe "Locusts and "Wild Honey" were popsicle flavours in John's time, like "Eskimo Limon!"

Hels said...

No surprise that they needed icecream/ I wonder if it would be possible to surround the area with big, shady trees. If there isn't enough soil to plant trees into the ground, then huge pots with imported soil and lots of water/nutrients.

RuneE said...

Ice cream in the desert - Yes, I bet that would ave changed the history more than a little bit :-)

Susie of Arabia said...

So did you buy one of the big shirts and get baptized?

Dina said...

Susie, no way!! LOL
Gotta be careful with that word!

It think it is what linguists call a cultural void in English. English lacks a word for it. But in Hebrew we have tvilah for when Jews immerse in a mikva or a flowing source of water; and hatbala for when Christians are baptized in the water. Both from the same root T-B-L.

Dina said...

Dawn Treader, yep, those showers would be needed, IMHO.

Anumorchy, that's for sure, never a dull moment in Israel.
Af rega dal.

Helen, but suffering in the parched desert is part of the spirituality of the area, no?

Dr. M, haha, good flavor names!

RuneE, it is fun to think about. But who knows, maybe the manna was tasty too.

VP said...

As I have already said, many things have changed around there...

Spiderdama said...

Very interesting place and post Dina.
I have not heard of this "If a Christian dies and is buried in this Jordan-dipped gown.."
A Christian has eternal life if he believes and confesses Jesus the son of God<3

Happy evening to you:-)

cieldequimper said...

Been doing some catching up, this is extremely interesting. As always.

Adullamite said...

I believe John the Baptist did ask for ice cream several times but never found any!

This has been an interesting series. I saw the Jordan valley from the distance but never got down to it.

"If a Christian dies and is buried in this Jordan-dipped gown, now become shroud, it guarantees eternal life."
An invented superstition I would say. Salvation only through commitment to the finished work of Jesus on the cross and holding to this.

Kay said...

I'm trying to process all of this. It's very interesting and a bit perplexing. I could use some ice cream now.

Pat said...

I was a bit put off that I could see right through the women's "clothing cell". Not much protection there.

Can I also say that seeing all those people walking around in those white shirts seemed to much like a cult to me?

Dina said...

Hi Pat. You can say anything you want, hehe! I agree with you totally about the dressing room being way too see-through.
But "cult"--nah, it's really not like that. I think it is meant to preserve a bit of decorum for the holy site, instead of having people undress right at the shore and skinny-dip in the river.
Or think of a Speedo or a bikini--well, as a spectator I'd rather see pilgrims in the baptism gown.

Lesley said...

I agree that a baptism gown would be preferable. But being buried in it for eternal life - that is one way to make more sales!
Thank you for linking up with signs, signs.