Question: What was the normal way to cross the Jordan River during first century in Israel?
Reading John 1:28 it says that John was baptizing on the East side of the Jordan River and I've wondered how the people would get to him. And not just him but any travel that may require crossing the river. I'm sure that it could probably be crossed by swimming but it seems that hauling goods and possessions, families, or even the upper class like the priests this wouldn't have been the case. No where in scripture do I find mention of a bridge. Through different google searches the earliest bridge I could find was circa 700CE.
Information on the river itself:
The baptismal site of Bethany Beyond the Jordan (John 1:28) is near the southern end of the Jordan River, across from Jericho and 8 kilometres south of the King Hussein (or Allenby) Bridge. It is 40 minutes by car from the Jordanian capital of Amman.
El-Ghor: "Twenty miles below Lake Galilee the river is joined by the important Wady el-Jalud, which descends through the valley of Jezreel between Mt. Gilboa and the range of the Little Hermon (the hill Moreh of Jdg 7:1). This valley leads up from the Jordan to the valley of Esdrelon and thence to Nazareth, and furnished the usual route for Jews going from Jerusalem to Nazareth when they wished to avoid the Samaritans."
Deep and turbulent during the rainy season, the Jordan is reduced to a sluggish, shallow stream during the summer.
The Jordan River only reaches 20 yards across in some places, and its deepest point is around 17 feet.
From the Sea of Galilee, at the level of 682 feet below the Mediterranean, the river flows through a long, low plain called “the region of Jordan” (Matt. 3:5), and by the modern Arabs the Ghor, or “sunken plain.” This section is properly the Jordan of Scripture. Down through the midst of the “plain of Jordan” there winds a ravine varying in breadth from 200 yards to half a mile, and in depth from 40 to 150 feet. Through it the Jordan flows in a rapid, rugged, tortuous course down to the Dead Sea.