Neither was this Beth-barah at any very great distance from this passage. For so we have it, Judges 7:24: "Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan." And this they did.
It is hard to say whether Kimchi with more reason said, that "these waters were not the waters of Jordan"; or Jarchi, more absurdly, that "they divided Syria from Canaan." There were, no doubt, some waters in the valley of Jezreel: for there the battle was,--at least, if that may be called a battle, where there was not one sword unsheathed by the conqueror. See Judges 6:33--When the Midianites fled, Gideon summons the Ephraimites by messengers, that they would take those waters beforehand, which the routed enemy in their flight must necessarily pass through before they could arrive at the bridge or ferry over Jordan (spoken of even now), that lay in their way home. When both armies had pitched the field, the Midianites lay on the north, towards Galilee, and the Gideonites on the south, near mount Ephraim, chapter 7:1. There was a river in the vale, (at which waters, probably, Gideon distinguished betwixt his followers, that lapped like a dog, and those that did not). This river at length discharged itself into Jordan, above the bridge or passage that led into Perea. When, therefore, the Midianites lay on the northern bank of this river, and so were not capable of attaining the passage over Jordan, till they had made through these waters first, it was the Ephraimites' care and business to maintain the opposite bank, and that indeed all the whole space from the place where the fight began, to Beth-barah and Jordan, that the enemy might be blocked up from all possibility of escape or retiring.
Whether, therefore, this passage, of which we have spoken, was called Beth-barah from that place so near Jordan, or Beth-abara, from the etymology before mentioned, it is no absurdity for the further bank of Jordan, which lay contiguous to the bridge or passage over it, to be called "Beth-barah beyond Jordan," either upon the one or the other account. For (however the learned Beza comes to question it) the Lexicons will tell you beyond Jordan: especially that common three fold division, "Judea, Galilee, and beyond Jordan." "On the east of the river Jordan"; as Ptolemy expresseth it: and Beza himself confesseth, that beyond Jordan, is the proper signification of the Greek word beyond, Matthew 4:15.
Let us, therefore, place the Beth-abara we are seeking for, where John was baptizing, on the further side of Jordan, in the Scythopolitan country, where the Jews dwelt amongst the Syro-Grecians, as in all the Decapolitan regions, where Christ might something more safely converse, from the vexations of the scribes and Pharisees, John 10:40, being, as it were, out of their reach and jurisdiction there. And so we find John baptizing, first, at the passage of Jericho, because, through the greatness of the road, there was always a considerable concourse of people; and next, at the passage of Scythopolis, for the same reason...