The Bible mentions the Jordan River more frequently than any other geographical feature—181 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and 15 times in the New Testament. The Bible speaks of this side of the Jordan, that side of the Jordan, beyond the Jordan, over the Jordan. Yet, when actually crossing the Jordan, no psalmist ever paused, even for a moment, to praise its waters. When the exiled Jews wept by the rivers of Babylon, they did not yearn to see their native river; rather they remembered the city of Jerusalem (Psalm 137).
The Jordan was not a river to be loved. It was a barrier to be crossed: “and they went down after him, and took the fords of the Jordan toward Moab, and allowed not a man to pass over” (Judges 3:28). Or, the Jordan was a natural boundary: “and the boundary shall go down to the Jordan” (Numbers 34:12).