Qasr el Yahud

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Baptism site of Jesus, view from western bank (Qasr el-Yahud) towards churches on eastern bank

Qasr el Yahud (Arabic: قصر اليهود‎; also Kasser/Qasser al-Yahud/Yehud etc.; lit. Castle of the Jews) is the recent official name of a baptism site in the Jordan River Valley. It is the western part of the traditional site where the New Testament narrative of the baptism of Jesus took place (Matthew 3:13-17). According to other traditions, it is also the place where the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and Elijah the Prophet ascended to heaven.[1]

The site is located in the West Bank, a little southeast from Jericho. It includes marble steps that descend into the Jordan River as well as ruins of Byzantine and Crusader churches. The site reopened in 2011 after being closed for 44 years. The restoration project was approved before the 2000 millennium celebrations but was delayed due to the Second Intifada and flooding in the region in 2003.[1] It is administered by the Israeli Civil Administration and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.

The traditional Arabic name of the baptism site is Al-Maghtas, which has been used for an area stretching over both banks of the river, since the pilgrimage site has also slightly moved during history. Apparently for administrative reasons, the Jordanian side of the site is using the names Al-Maghtas, Bethany beyond the Jordan and simply Baptism(al) Site, while the western part is officially called Qasr el-Yahud. The latter name is actually inaccurate, since it is borrowed from the nearby Greek Orthodox Monastery of St John the Baptist, which has a castle-like appearance (thus qasr, "castle"), allegedly conflated with the tradition of the Israelites' crossing of the river at this spot (thus el-Yahud, "of the Jews").[2][3][4]

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  1. ^ a b "Take me to the river". 
  2. ^ "Survey of Western Palestine, sheet 15". Palestine Exploration Fund. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  3. ^ Dr Theodosios Mitropoulos, architect. "The Holy Monastery of St John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan River/Qasr-el-Yahud". The [Greek Orthodox] Patriarchate of Jerusalem – Official News Gate. Retrieved 23 March 2015. The Holy Monastery of St John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan River/Qasr-el-Yahud […] The perimeter walls, specifically their uppermost portion, terminate at battlements, which lend the monument the form of a Medieval castle. This is in all likelihood why its Arabian name is Qasr el Yahud [The castle of the Jews] 
  4. ^ Othmar Keel, Max Küchler, Christoph Uehlinger (1992). Orte und Landschaften der Bibel, Volume 2. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 528. ISBN 9783525501672. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 

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Coordinates: 31°50′18″N 35°32′21″E / 31.83833°N 35.53917°E / 31.83833; 35.53917