The river which runs from north of the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea is central to the history of Israel, ancient and modern. Towns and villages near it are mentioned in the NT—Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Gergasa. It flows below sea level and is about 320 km. (200 miles) long. The Israelites crossed the Jordan (Josh. 4: 10) when the flow of the river temporarily ceased, as has happened at other times as a result of earthquakes or landslides, and in modern times in 1927. It was the chosen scene for the ministry of John the Baptist; because it was the means by which the Israelites had entered the Promised Land, it acquired symbolic importance for apocalyptic enthusiasts in the 1st cent. CE.