The Jordan Valley is a segment of the Syrian- African Rift. This rift between two tectonic plates stretches as its name infers form Syria through Africa, including our region. It is still actively moving, albeit at a very slow pace. It is because of this rift and its movement’s that the land of Israel and much of the other regions around us have the topography that it has. The mountains and valleys uplifted folded and otherwise transformed by its impact. In addition the great earthquakes that the land has experienced and are preserved in its history and archeology are due to this rift and its movements. The various events that took place in the different areas of the valley will be discussed in context, however we will take one example for our purposes here- the Avot entering the land of Canaan.
The rift valley in many instances is actually an obstacle as there are steep cliff escarpments on either side. As such there are only specific places where the climb on either side is more gradual allowing for them to become local routes. The events of history play out primarily along these specific places.
This tour took us nearly to the top of the Sartaba mountain. Here there is an incredible view really emphasizing the attributes of the Jordan Valley. Looking out from here we can see the Yabok valley and the river coming from it meeting the Jordan valley. The Torah relates to us that both Avraham and Yaakov upon entering the land, the first city they met was Shechem. It also notes that Yaakov crosses the Yabok cross. These two geographical points help us understand the route that they took and the significance of these areas. As opposed to those traveling along the international routes such as the via maris and kings highway, here, we are dealing with those looking for the central mountains of the land. In other words, instead of people who are looking to cut through the land from one empire to the other with this as their land bridge, here we are looking at people coming with the goal of staying (though they don’t’ end up staying for long). As such, instead of cutting through the northern Jezereel valley, they follow the Yabok canyon which leads them directly to the Jordan valley and right across the way to the Tirtzah valley on the western side of the Jordan River. This is also known as the way of the setting sun, and leads directly to the city of Shechem and up to the central mountain route.
Again, this is only one example but allows us to understand the significance of the region and its impact on the events of the Torah. Here the Avot traveled! From one of these hilltops Avraham first saw the place he was destined to bring Yitzchak as they walked together from Be’er sheva to Har Hamoriyah. Along this road Yaakov dreamed of a ladder connecting heaven and earth and Yosef went to look for his brothers. Walking these paths we walk in their footsteps learn from their actions and internalize their message.
Our coming tours will deal with the southern approaches to the central mountains, the central mountains themselves, and the North-western segments of the land. After which we will begin a new series of tours going book by book through the books of Navi! For more info on our tours or to request a specific area or event to explore based on analyzing the land, check out our upcoming tours, and please feel free to contact me!
Blessings from Yerushalayim!