The Jordan River winds its way southward from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, through a rift valley that runs into northern Africa. It descends to one of the lowest elevations on earth, dropping to almost 400 meters below sea level by the time it reaches the Dead Sea. As a large river, the Jordan served as a formidable obstacle in ancient times and the shallow sections where crossing on foot was possible were important military strongholds. The Jordan River was the eastern border of Israel’s promised land and Joshua records that the water miraculously parted as Israel crossed it to begin their campaign of conquering the land.