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Part of the Madaba Map showing Aenon

Aenon is the site mentioned by the Gospel of John as one of the places where John was baptising people, after baptizing Jesus in Bethany Beyond the Jordan.[1][2]

Αἰνών (Aínṓn) is the Hellenized form of the term for 'spring' or 'natural fountain' in many Semitic languages, such as the Hebrew עין‎ and Arabic عين‎ (both Romanized ʕayn). In the water-poor Middle East, places owning a spring tend to be named after that water source, so that toponyms consisting of or containing the construct state word "ein-" are common. The particular site mentioned in the Gospel of John is therefore closer identified as "Aenon near Salim". John 3:23 is the only place in the Bible where the name Aenon is found.[3]

The name Aenon is commonly used amongst Baptist organizations and churches.[citation needed]

Identification attempts

Information from the Gospel

Both names, "Aenon" and "Salim", are not unique, and the Gospel text offers only two additional hints about where Aenon might be located: the most direct information is that "there was plenty of water there" (John 3:22), and the second is that it was west of the River Jordan because at Aenon John's disciples talk of the site where John first encountered Jesus as being "on the other side of the Jordan" (John 3:26) which is taken to mean east of the river. We also know from John 1:28 that that first encounter happened at "Bethany on the other side of the Jordan".[4]

'Ainun in Wadi Far'a

One possible location is near the upper source of the Wadi Far'a, an open valley extending from Mount Ebal to the Jordan River, which is full of springs. There is a place called 'Ainun four miles north of the springs (see Easton's Bible Dictionary).[4]

Eusebius: Saloumias south of Scythopolis

Another possible location, which is by Eusebius' description in his Onomasticon (written before AD 324), is at "a village in the (Jordan) valley, at the eighth milestone from Scythopolis (Beit She'an), ... called Salumias."[5] This view was already supported by the 19th-century Smith's Bible Dictionary and the 1915 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia[4] and is still favoured by some.[6][7][8]

Madaba Map: east of the Jordan near Jericho

The 6th-century Madaba Map shows the location of Aenon right across the Jordan from Bethabara, near Jericho. In the Gospel of John, "Bethany Beyond the Jordan" is indicated as the place where Jesus was baptized by John; in some translations of the Bible, the name Bethany is instead translated as "Bethabara" (1:28). The map and archaeological findings at the site indicate that at least during part of the Byzantine period, this was the site venerated as Aenon.[citation needed][clarification needed]

With the Dead Sea shown on the right side of the map giving context, Bethabara is on the west of the Jordan, while Aenon is on the east.[citation needed][clarification needed]

See also


  1. ^ Nichols (2009), p. 12.
  2. ^ Sloyan (1987), p. 11.
  3. ^ John 3:23 is marked with a dagger symbol, used to symbolize the set of all biblical citations of a given word, in Cheyne and Black (1899), Encyclopaedia Biblica, entry for "Aenon." [1]
  4. ^ a b c "Aenon". BibleHub.com. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  5. ^ Piccirillo et al. (2000)
  6. ^ Noort (2004), p. 229.
  7. ^ Gibson (2004), quote: "About twelve kilometres (or eight miles according to Eusebius) to the south of Beth Shean (Scythopolis), there is a region which would fit Aenon perfectly. This location has numerous springs: I have counted thirteen of them in a small area four by four kilometres and, interestingly, Ambrose in his writings (II, 1432) claimed that there were twelve springs at 'Ennon'. On the north side of this area is Tell Shalem, which undoubtedly must be Salim/Salumnias (map ref. 2098-1998), and so the place where John baptised at Aenon may have been at any of the springs in the vicinity of Tell Shalem."
  8. ^ Bernard (2000) [1928], p. 128.


  • Nichols, Lorna Daniels (2009). Big Picture of the Bible: New Testament. ISBN 1-57921-928-4. page 12.

External links

Coordinates: 31°50′15″N 35°32′58″E / 31.83750°N 35.54944°E / 31.83750; 35.54944

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