THE JORDAN VALLEY

Frederick Homburg
1912 School Science and Mathematics  
The rift that yawns between the highland of Judea, Samaria and Galilee on the West, and the land of Moab, of Ammon and of Gilead on the East is drained by the stream celebrated in song and story the Jordan. It is formed in the north of the Holy Land by the confluence of three small streams which come leaping from the heights of Hermon, After union, the waters flow south through a swampy region including Lake Huleh, an unhealthy land, whose seedy thickets shelter gypsies and wild buffalo. On
more » ... ild buffalo. On leaving this region the course of the stream becomes interesting. The level of the swamp is 2 meters above that of the sea; that of the Sea of Galilee, 16 kilometers beyond, is 208 meters below the sea level; so decided a difference in level for so short a distance means rapid flow, and we find the Jordan connecting the two basins by a series of cataracts through a deep, narrow gorge with steep basalt walls. The Sea of Galilee, or Lake Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias, is a smiling sheet of fine, clear water, full of fish, once enlivened by fishermen's boats, now almost deserted. South of Lake Tiberias, between abruptly rising heights, there stretched a plain of varying width in which the Jordan has cut a sinuous and shifting channel. It meanders so, that its course from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea is three times as long as the air line. The many rapids which justify the river's name, Jordan, meaning "swiftly flowing," render it unfit for navigation; and the low position of its sunken channel prevents its use for irrigating purposes. In spite of four bridges (the newest one near Jericho) the river is a hindrance to traffic, for its numerous fords are passable only at low water. Were it not for tradition and sentiment and the consequent attraction of tourists, and the fact that the Jordan affords drink to men and animals, it might be called a worse than useless stream. The country about the river, whose water is often bottled and sent to Christian lands, there to be used at pompous baptisms, is private domain of the Turkish sultan. Toward the end of its course, the Jordan flows through a country which, outside of some oases, is nearly a desert and which foretells the nearness of the Dead Sea. The sacred waters of the Jordan do not mingle with those of other rivers in
doi:10.1111/j.1949-8594.1912.tb04747.x fatcat:alzpeuxvrvfivedzelm2e2szgu