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Beyond Jordan

The English word "beyond" is a contraction of to be yonder, from an old Anglo-Saxon term meaning to be at a distance, but still in view. The term was based not as much on where the "beyond" was, but where the viewer was standing.

In the Holy Bible, "beyond Jordan" (as the King James Version renders it) was used to refer to either east of the Jordan River or west of the Jordan River. In this example, nine and a half of the Israelite tribes had their assigned homelands "beyond Jordan," west of the Jordan River, while two and a half tribes had their assigned homelands "beyond Jordan," east of the Jordan River (the Levites were assigned lands and towns throughout all of the others).

"3:18 And I commanded you at that time, saying, The LORD [see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM'] your God hath given you this land to possess it: ye shall pass over armed before your brethren the children of Israel, all that are meet for the war. 3:19 But your wives, and your little ones, and your cattle, for I know that ye have much cattle, shall abide in your cities which I have given you; 3:20 Until the LORD have given rest unto your brethren, as well as unto you, and until they also possess the land which the LORD your God hath given them beyond Jordan: and then shall ye return every man unto his possession, which I have given you." (Deuteronomy 3:18-20 KJV)

"13:7 Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh, 13:8 With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them." (Joshua 13:7-9 KJV)

"Beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations"

As stated in the examples above, "beyond Jordan" was used both ways (although with Israelite territory along much of the length of the river, "beyond Jordan" could mean Israelite territory regardless of which direction one was looking from the Jordan). In this example, "beyond Jordan" meant west of the Jordan, where Jacob, who the LORD renamed as "Israel" (see The Origin Of 'Israel') was buried, after he died in Egypt.


"50:8 And all the house of Joseph [see Joseph, Prime Minister Of Egypt], and his brethren, and his father's house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen. 50:9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.

50:10 And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days. 50:11 And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abelmizraim, which is beyond Jordan.

50:12 And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them: 50:13 For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre. 50:14 And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father." (Genesis 50:8-14 KJV)

Moses (see The Prophets: Moses) was not permitted to go "beyond Jordan," west of the Jordan, while he remained and is buried "beyond Jordan," east of the Jordan.

"3:25 I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.

3:26 But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. 3:27 Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan." (Deuteronomy 3:25-27 KJV)

Galilee is described as "beyond Jordan" in both the Old and New Testaments.

"9:1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. 9:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light [see The Prophet Of Galilee]: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." (Isaiah 9:1-2 KJV)

"4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet [i.e. Isaiah; see The Prophets: Isaiah], saying, 4:15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up." (Matthew 4:14-16 KJV)

Even, as above, when Galilee was referred to as "beyond Jordan," from Galilee itself the other side of the river was referred to as "beyond Jordan."

"4:25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan." (Matthew 4:25 KJV)

Judea, in which Jerusalem is located, was described as "beyond Jordan."

"19:1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; 19:2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there." (Matthew 19:1-2 KJV)

During the time of his ministry (see How Long Was John's Ministry?), John baptized "beyond Jordan," across the river from Judea.

"1:26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 1:27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

1:28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing." (John 1:26-28 KJV)

At the very same time as the verses above, John referred to west of the Jordan as "beyond Jordan." The term was based simply upon which side of the river that the speaker was standing when he spoke.

"3:26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi [see Rabbi John], he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him." (John 3:26 KJV)

When He was being threatened by the religious authorities, the Messiah also sometimes crossed "beyond Jordan," where John the Baptist was, beyond the immediate jurisdiction of the Pharisees.

"10:31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him [see also Was Paul Among Them?]. 10:32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?

10:33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 10:36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? 10:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 10:38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. 10:39 Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, 10:40 And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode." (John 10:31-40 KJV)

Fact Finder: Where is the "land of milk and honey"?
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