Aenon (Greek: Αἰνών, Ainṓn), distinguished as Aenon near Salim, is the site mentioned by the Gospel of John (3:23) as one of the places where John was baptising people, after baptizing Jesus in Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan.
Aenon is the Hellenized form of the term for 'spring' or 'natural fountain' in many Semitic languages, including Hebrew ayn (עין) and Arabic ain or ein (عين). 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 element are common. The particular site mentioned in the Gospel of John is therefore distinguished as "Aenon near Salim".
Information from the Gospel
Neither "Aenon" nor "Salim" is a unique name, 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-beyond-the-Jordan", named relative to the entrance of the Hebrews from the desert during the Exodus.
'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.
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." This view was already supported by the 19th-century Smith's Bible Dictionary and the 1915 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia and is still favoured by some.
Madaba Map: east of the Jordan near Jericho
In addition to Aenon near Salem, the 6th-century Madaba Map shows a second 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 transcribed as "Bethabara" (1:28). On the Madaba Map, Bethabara is on the right bank of the Jordan, while this Aenon is on the left.[clarification needed]
- Al Maghtas, the traditional site of Jesus' baptism
- Baptism of Jesus
- Bethabara, a name used by some versions of the New Testament for the site of Jesus' baptism
- Chronology of Jesus
- Ministry of Jesus
- New Testament places associated with Jesus
- Nichols (2009), p. 12.
- Sloyan (1987), p. 11.
- John 3:23
- "Aenon". BibleHub.com. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- Easton's Bible Dictionary
- Piccirillo et al. (2000)
- Noort (2004), p. 229.
- 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."
- Bernard (2000) , p. 128.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Easton, Matthew George (1897). "Aenon". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.
- Bernard, John Henry (2000) . A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John. International Critical Commentary Series. Bloomsbury T&T Clark. p. 128. ISBN 9780567050243. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- Gibson, Shimon (2004). The Cave of John the Baptist: The Stunning Archaeological Discovery that has Redefined Christian History. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 9780385503471. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- Noort, Ed (2004). García Martínez, Florentino; Luttikhuizen, Gerard P. (eds.). Βεθαβαρα Τò Του̑ Άγίου 'Ιωάννου Του̑ Βαπτίσματος Remarks About Storied Places at the Jordan, John the Baptist and the Madaba Mosaic Map. Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome: Studies in Ancient Cultural Interaction in Honour of A. Hilhorst. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism. BRILL. pp. 221–241. ISBN 9789047402794. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
- Nichols, Lorna Daniels (2009). Big Picture of the Bible: New Testament. ISBN 1-57921-928-4. page 12.
- Piccirillo, Michele; Eugenio Alliata; Stefano de Luca (2000). "Aenon near Salem which is also Saloumias - (Kh. Khisas al-Dayr)". The Madaba Map: a virtual travel through the Holy Places. Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- Sloyan, Gerard Stephen (1987). John. ISBN 0-8042-3125-7. page 11.