Family Time in Jordan Park
Strictly speaking Jordan Park by the Jordan River is in the Golan, but it is only minutes from the north-east shoreline of Lake Kinneret and is therefore included in this section. It is administered by the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and is a wonderful place for relaxing and playing with with the family. There are plenty of picnic areas. The kids can swim and splash in the large pool and cool down under the waterfall. There are many paths to discover, including shallow river walks. The children can cycle on the paths. Family evening activities are often arranged by the park. Unlike the parks of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, this park is open till 11.00 pm, so so that you have all day to enjoy yourselves especially if you are camping. Many Christians especially find the ruins of Bethsaida (Beit Tzeida) of significance to them.
ABOUT THE PARK
Directions: Enter “Jordan Park” on Waze and click on “Jordan Park Qatsrin.”
Admission: Admission is 50 nis per car. Make sure you obtain the brochure with a map. Facilities include a store selling hot and cold drinks and snacks, WC’s and showers. The park is open until 11.00 pm, but after 4.30 pm you start paying for another day. There is also camping here. Their telephone is 04-692 3422. This is their website.
There are plenty of family-type activities to do here. The main attraction for children is a large pool with gently flowing water that drives a large paddled water wheel of a reconstructed flour mill. There is also a waterfall on the other side of a wall in which kids can get wet. This is close to the main parking area. There is a play area with slides and swings. There are plenty of shaded picnic benches. There is fishing and kayaking. Biking is permitted on all the paths - but there are no rentals so bring your own bikes. There are also night nature activities for families. For information as to when these are taking place call 050 691-2481.
There are a number of circular paths for walks. These are described in the brochure and are clearly marked. Three out of the four start by the bridge by the pool.
The yellow trail includes two sections in which one can either wade through the water or walk on the path by the side of the stream. The water is adult ankle deep. The first brief section in the water is just after crossing the bridge by the start of the hike. The second section is towards the end of the hike by a bridge and just before joining with the blue trail. The stream bed is fairly smooth and you should not trip. This part of the walk should take about 20 minutes. Much of the walk is between dense vegetation and does not offer views.
The blue trail is 1.8 Km, should take about 1½ hours, and offers views over the River Jordan and the ruins of watermills.
The red trail is along the streams of the Jordan River and passes ruined watermills. It is about 40 minutes.
It is also possible to walk over or take the car to the parking area for the Bethsaida Trail, which passes the ruins of Bethsaida. The first part of this trail is circular, is directed to Christian visitors, and takes about 25 minutes. One can also do the entire trail which is about 2 Km and takes about 45 minutes. It is not circular and you will need to return to wherever your car or family is located.
One of the water trails in the park.
Sign by the ruins of Bethsaida.
Bethsaida and Et Tell
The ruins of Et Tell have been identified with the village called Beit Tzeida in Hebrew, which means House of Hunting or Fishing, and it was a prosperous fishing village during the Second Temple period. Processed fish was a popular dish at that time. Three of Jesus disciples, Philip, Peter and Andrew, were born in this village and Jesus performed two miracles here. Jesus finally cursed the village, as well as Capernaum and Chorazim, because of their lack of faith in him and failure to repent (Matthew 11:20). The village was destroyed during the Great Revolt.
Nevertheless, not all archeologists are in agreement that this is truly the site of Beit Tzaida and other locations have been suggested. Somewhat against this location is that these ruins are about 1.2 miles from the shoreline, although fishing equipment has been found in the ruins and the level of the lake may have been higher in Second Temple times.
There is more agreement among archeologists that Et Tell was formerly the site of Tzur, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Geshur. Excavations have revealed evidence of religious practices, including high places, decorated stelae and dedicatory inscriptions. This kingdom had a good relationship with King David, and David married Maachah, the daughter of the king. From this union came Absalom. Absalom fled to his grandparents after murdering his half-brother Amnon, although he later found favor with his father and returned home.
The Kingdom of Geshur has not been mentioned previously on this website. It is mentioned in the Bible. It was an independent state in the 9th century BCE that extended from along the eastern border of Lake Kinneret to the Golan Heights to as far south as the Yarmouk River. Joshua gave it to half the tribe of Manasseh, although they were unable to conquer it (Joshua 13:13). It probably existed as an independent state for no more than a century before being annexed by Aram.