beth-ab'-a-ra beth`abharah; (Bethabara, "house of the ford"):

According to the King James Version (following Textus Receptus of the New Testament) the place where John baptized (John 1:28). the Revised Version (British and American) (with Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek following Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Ephraemi) reads BETHANY. It is distinguished from the Bethany of Lazarus and his sisters as being "beyond the Jordan." The reading "Bethabara" became current owing to the advocacy of Origen. Various suggestions have been made to explain the readings. G. A. Smith (HGHL) suggests that Bethany ("house of the ship") and Bethabara ("house of the ford") are names for the same place. Bethabara has also been identified with Bethbarah, which, however, was probably not on the Jordan but among the streams flowing into it (Judges 7:24). It is interesting to note that LXXB reads Baithabara for Massoretic Text Beth-`arabhah, one of the cities of Benjamin (Joshua 18:22). If this be correct, the site is in Judea.

Another solution is sought in the idea of a corruption of the original name into Bethany and Bethabara, the name having the consonants n, b and r after Beth. In Joshua 13:27 (Septuagint, Codex Vaticanus) we find Baithanabra for Bethnimrah (Massoretic Text), and Sir George Grove in DB (arts. "Bethabara" and "Beth-nimrah") identifies Bethabara and Beth-nimrah. The site of the latter was a few miles above Jericho (see BETH-NIMRAH), "immediately accessible to Jerusalem and all Judea" (compare Matthew 3:5; Mark 1:5, and see article "Bethany" in EB). This view has much in its favor.

Then, again, as Dr. G. Frederick Wright observes:

"The traditional site is at the ford east of Jericho; but as according to John 1:29,35,43 it was only one day's journey from Cana of Galilee, while according to John 10:40; 11:3,6,27 it was two or three days from Bethany, it must have been well up the river toward Galilee. Conder discovered a well-known ford near Beisan called Abarah, near the mouth of the valley of Jezreel. This is 20 miles from Cana and 60 miles from Bethany, and all the conditions of the place fit in with the history."

See also BETHANY.

S. F. Hunter

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'BETHABARA'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.