"Cross over with me and stay with me in Jerusalem, and I will provide for you." (2 Sam 19:33)
Throughout history, the bridges of the Holy Land
strengthened economic, cultural, and religious ties, and their state of
repair and adornments told of the power of its rulers. The fact that
most of Israel’s
historic bridges stand at various points on its borders adds a
significant modern dimension to their stories. From north to south, here
are some of the most interesting ones.
A Patriarch and His Daughters
The Bible mentions that Jacob’s daughters (Gen. 46:7) went with him to Egypt, but what do they have to do with the Daughters of Jacob Bridge over the Jordan River in northern Israel’s Hula Valley?
legend says that Jacob’s daughters crossed this bridge with their
father, presumably among “all he had” when he returned from Paddan Aram in Mesopotamia (Gen. 31:21). In that same verse, we find Jacob “crossing the river” and heading for “the hill country of Gilead.” It’s the right neighborhood, but only barely - this bridge connects the Galilee with the Golan, not Gilead.
So who could these daughters be? Some say they were a medieval order of nuns in the Galilee town of Safed.
The nuns, known as the Daughters of James (which in Hebrew is Ya’akov,
or Jacob), were allowed by the Turks to charge a toll on the bridge. We
probably will never know the answer to the name riddle. The Galilee
is replete with biblical place names, and we can only conclude that the
overactive scriptural imagination of pilgrims and other travelers is
behind the bridge’s moniker.