Among the various ways of writing Bethabara in Hebrew, these two especially deserve our consideration at present: 'Beth-barah,' which we meet with in Judges 7, and Bethabara, or a place of passage, where they passed over Jordan. They must both come under our inquiry, whiles we are seeking the place in hand; and, first, of the latter.
Doubtless there was no part of Jordan but might be passed by boat from one side to the other, as men's different occasions might call them; but we are now considering the public and common passages that led over that river from one country into another.
I. There is a bridge over Jordan, betwixt the lake of Samochon and Gennesaret in the way that leadeth to Damascus, which hath the name of "Jacob's bridge"; of which our countryman Biddulph, who hath himself travelled over it, speaks to this purpose:
"At the foot of this rocky mountain runs a pleasant river called Jordan, which divideth Syria from Galilee. Over this river is built a goodly bridge, which bears the name of 'Jacob's bridge,' upon this twofold account: 1. Because in this place Jacob met with his brother Esau; 2. Because here he wrestled with the angel."
As to matter of fact, that there is and was such a bridge, I do not much question; but for the reasons why it is so called, as it is not much to our purpose to examine, so they seem to have little else but conjecture in them.
II. Jordan also had a bridge over it at Chammath, near Tiberias, at the very efflux of the river out of the sea of Gennesaret; as we have elsewhere shewn from the Talmudic authors, against the mistake of the tables, which place Tiberias at a great distance thence. "As well the lord the king, as all the princes, come even unto Tiberias, and pitch their tents near the bridge, where the streams of Jordan from the sea do divide themselves."
"With his army he pitched his tents near Tiberias, by the bridge, from whence the streams of Jordan, from the lake of Gennesaret, do divide themselves." Read this, and view the situation of Tiberias in the tables, and correct the mistake.
III. That was a most known and frequent passage from Jericho, which we so often read of in the Holy Scriptures; which yet seems rather to have been by boat than bridge. See 2 Samuel 19:18, and 2 Kings 2:8.