Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
BETHABARA ( בֵּיתעֲבָרָה ‘house of the ford crossing’).—The name is found in the New Testament only in John 1:28 (Authorized Version): ‘These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.’ The place was, therefore, one suitable for the purposes of the Baptist in preaching and baptizing; and it has been usually identified, though this is not precisely stated in the text, with the scene of the baptism of our Lord.
With the great majority of Gr. MSS [Note: SS Manuscripts.] (including א* ABC*) the Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 has retained here the reading ‘ Bethany ,’ with marginal alternatives ‘Bethabarah’ and ‘Betharabah.’ The latter (בְּיחעֲרָבָה ‘house of the prairie,’ cf. Isaiah 40:3 et al. ; or ‘house of the Arabah or Jordan Valley,’ cf. Deuteronomy 1:7; or perhaps ‘house of the poplar,’ cf. נַחַלהָעֲרְבִים Isaiah 15:7) is possibly a reminiscence of the Beth-arabah of Joshua 15:6; Joshua 15:61 in the plain of Jericho, or it may be due merely to an accidental transposition of letters. The form ‘Bethabara,’ on the other hand, is found in a few extant manuscripts of the Greek text, both uncial and cursive, and in the Curetonian and Sinaitic Syriac. Origen adopted this reading, and it seems to have gained general currency mainly on his authority. He writes ( in Evang. Joannis , vi. 24) that Bethany is found in almost all copies and in Heracleon, but after personal investigation of the district (γενόμενοι ἐν τοῖν τόποις ἐπὶ ἱστορίαν τῶν ἰχνῶν Ἰησοῦ καὶ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ) he prefers ‘Bethabara’ on the twofold ground of the distance of Bethany, the country of Lazarus and Martha and Mary, from the Jordan, and of the non-existence of any place bearing the latter name within the Jordan Valley. He further reports (λέγουσι) a place Βηθαρά where he had been told (ἱστοροῦσι) that John baptized, and says that the word means οἶκος κατασκευῆς (possibly a confusion with עֲברָה, cf. LXX Septuagint in Exodus 35:24), Bethany being οἶκος ὑπακοῆς, adding a play upon the name as befitting the spot where the messenger sent to prepare (κατασκευάζειν, Matthew 11:10) the way of the Lord should baptize.
Origen’s view, therefore, was mainly a priori , and it has seemed worth while to set it out at length, because later writers, as Epiphanius, Chrysostom, et al. , apparently adopt and repeat it with more or less amplification; nor is it easy to decide how much weight is due to additional details they may give. According to Chrysostom, for instance, the more accurate copies read ‘Bethabara,’ a result that might readily be conceived to follow from Origen’s criticism; and he adds that Bethany was neither across the Jordan nor in the wilderness, but near Jerusalem.* [Note: Suidas, s.v. Βηθανια, says expressly that the right reading is Βηθαβαμά; and he also inserts ἰτι in the text before τοϋ Ἱορδάνου.] The ancient writers do not seem to take into account the possibility of the names occurring more than once in Palestine. It is clear, however, that either ‘Bethany’ or ‘Bethabara’ would lend itself readily to duplication.
The only indication of position which the narrative itself gives is in the phrase πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, ‘across ( i.e. east of) the Jordan.’ And if Bethabara or Bethany is the scene of the Baptism, then it would seem that the site must be looked for in the northern part of the Jordan Valley, since Christ comes hither apparently direct from Galilee ( Matthew 3:13, Mark 1:9). Conder finds all the necessary conditions satisfied by a ford ‘Abârah on the Jordan E.N.E. of Beisân , and at a distance of four or five miles from the latter place: and he explains the name ‘Bethany’ as equivalent to Batanea, Basanitis, or Bashan, the district immediately east of the Jordan, south and south-east of the Sea of Galilee (see C. R. Conder in Pal . [Note: Palestine, Palestinian.] Expl. Fund Mem. ii. p. 89 f., Quart. Statement , 1875, p. 72, Handbook to the Bible , p. 319 f.; Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, art. ‘Bethabara’).
Bethabara has also been supposed to be the same as the Beth-barah (בֵּיחבָּרָה, LXX Septuagint Βαιθηρά, of Judges 7:24) which lay on or near the Jordan. This is on the assumption that a guttural has been accidentally lost from the Hebrew text, and that we ought to read בּיחעֲבָרָה. Dr. Sanday ( Sacred Sites of the Gospels , p. 23) accepts the identification with ‘Abârah . But beyond the coincidence of the name, on which much stress cannot be laid, there is no direct evidence in its favour; and the indirect evidence is slight. The inference, moreover, which has been drawn from John 2:1, that Bethabara or Bethany lay not more than a day’s journey from Cana of Galilee, is precarious. The marriage festivities at Cana would in all probability extend over several days, towards the close of which the supply of wine failed: and the language used is perhaps intended to convey that Christ and His disciples were not present at the beginning. (See on the prolongation of the ceremonies attendant on an Eastern wedding, P. Baldensperger, ‘Woman in the East’ in PEFS t [Note: EFSt Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1900 p. 181 ff., 1901 p. 173 ff.; H. B. Tristram, Eastern Customs in Bible Lands , ch. v.).
The traditional site of the baptism of Christ at Makhâdet Hajlah in the Jordan Valley near Jericho, though defended by Sir Charles Wilson and others, seems to be too far south. Others would read, by conjecture, in the text of St. John’s Gospel, Βηθαναβρά, i.e. Beth-nimrah, on the Wâdy Shaib , five miles east of the Jordan, E.N.E. from Jericho (see T. K. Cheyne in Encyc. Bibl. s.vv. ).
Literature.—See above, and add Smith’s D B [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] 2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] s.v. ; G. A. Smith, HGH L [Note: GHL Historical Geog. of Holy Land.] (1894), p. 496; Stanley, Sinai and Palestine , p. 310; Farrar, Life of Christ , i. p. 140 n. [Note: note.] ; Weiss, Life of Christ , i. p. 361 f. and note; Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah , i. pp. 264, 278; Geikie, Life and Words of Christ , i. 388, and Holy Land and the Bible , ii. p. 257; Sanday, Sacred Sites of the Gospels , 11, 23, 35, 94; PEFS t [Note: EFSt Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1903, p. 161; and the Commentaries on John 1:28.
A. S. Geden.
Fausset's Bible Dictionary 
("house of a ford or passage") (See Judges 7:24), where John was when he baptized Jesus ( John 1:28; compare John 1:29-30-35). The same as (See Beth -NIMRAH, "the house of leopards," now Beyt-nemir. Thence Elijah ascended. The leopards having come back after their temporary ejectment, during which the name Bethabara prevailed, the place resumed its original name. But perhaps the name means rather, "house of pure water." The Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus, the three oldest manuscripts, read "Bethany," which also may mean "house of a ferryboat," i.e. a passage. Yet Origen prefers the reading Bethabara. Some explain Bethany = boathouse, virtually = Bethabara.
Lieut. Conder places the Bethabara of Judges at the traditional site, the pilgrims' bathing place near Kasr el Yahud, E. of Jericho, within easy reach of Jerusalem. But he shows there is an objection to placing Bethabara's) far S., for Christ's baptism. A site is required within 30 miles of Cana of Galilee; for ( John 1:43) "the day following (the events at Bethabara, John 1:28-36) Jesus would go forth into Galilee," and on the third day (John 2) was in Cana. Now just one mile N. of Wady Jalud , two days journey from Nazareth and Cana (25 miles), is Makhadhet Abara , "the ford of crossing over." The great road on the N. side of wady Jalud to Gilead and S. Hauran passes over by it. The nearness to Galilee, and the openness of the sides of the river here, leaving a broader space for the crowd seeking baptism, favor the view. The name Bethabara might probably belong to more points than one where Jordan is forded.
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
or Bethbarah signifies in the Hebrew a place of passage, because of its ford over the river Jordan, on the east bank of which river it stood over against Jericho, Joshua 2:7; Joshua 3:15-16 . To this place Gideon sent a party to secure the passage of the river, previous to his attack on the Midianites,
Judges 7:24 . Here John commenced his baptizing, and here Christ himself was baptized, John 1:28 . To this place, also, Jesus retired, when the Jews sought to take him at the feast of dedication; and many who resorted there to him believed on him, John 10:39-42 .
Smith's Bible Dictionary 
Bethab'ara. (House Of The Ford). A place beyond Jordan, in which according to the Received Text of the New Testament, John was baptizing. John 1:28. If this reading be correct, Bethabara is identical with Beth-barah (Fords Of Abarah), the ancient ford of Jordan on the road to Gilead; or, which seems more likely, with Beth-nimrah, on the east of the river, nearly opposite Jericho. The Revised Version reads Bethany , see below.
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
BETHABARA . Mentioned once only, John 1:28 , as the scene of John’s baptism; the principal codices, followed by the RV [Note: Revised Version.] , here read Bethany . There is no clue to the position of Bethabara, except that it was probably in or near Galilee (cf. Matthew 3:13 ). Identification with a ford named ‘AbÃ¢rah , about 12 miles south of the outlet of the Sea of Galilee, has with some plausibility been suggested.
R. A. S. Macalister.
Morrish Bible Dictionary 
Place beyond Jordan where John was baptizing. John 1:28 . Identified with the ford Abarah, 35 33' E 32 32' N . Most Editors of the Greek Testament read BETHANY.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
John 1:28 Judges 7:24Bethbarah
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
beth - ab´a - ra בּית עברה , bēth‛ăbhārāh ; Βηθαβαρά , Bēthabará , "house of the ford"): According to the King James Version (following Textus Receptus of the New Testament) the place where John baptized ( John 1:28 ). the Revised Version (British and American) (with Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek following Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Ephraemi) reads Bethany . It is distinguished from the Bethany of Lazarus and his sisters as being "beyond the Jordan." The reading "Bethabara" became current owing to the advocacy of Origen. Various suggestions have been made to explain the readings. G. A. Smith ( HGHL ) suggests that Bethany ("house of the ship") and Bethabara ("house of the ford") are names for the same place. Bethabara has also been identified with Bethbarah, which, however, was probably not on the Jordan but among the streams flowing into it ( Judges 7:24 ). It is interesting to note that lxxB reads , Baithabara for Massoretic Text Bēth - ‛ărābhāh , one of the cities of Benjamin ( Joshua 18:22 ). If this be correct, the site is in Judea.
Another solution is sought in the idea of a corruption of the original name into Bethany and Bethabara, the name having the consonants n , b and r after Beth. In Joshua 13:27 (Septuagint, Codex Vaticanus) we find , Baithanabra for Bethnimrah (Massoretic Text), and Sir George Grove in DB (arts. "Bethabara" and "Beth-nimrah") identifies Bethabara and Beth-nimrah. The site of the latter was a few miles above Jericho (see Beth-Nimrah ), "immediately accessible to Jerusalem and all Judea" (compare Matthew 3:5; Mark 1:5 , and see article "Bethany" in EB ). This view has much in its favor.
Then, again, as Dr. G. Frederick Wright observes: "The traditional site is at the ford east of Jericho; but as according to John 1:29 , John 1:35 , John 1:43 it was only one day's journey from Cana of Galilee, while according to John 10:40; John 11:3 , John 11:6 , John 11:27 it was two or three days from Bethany, it must have been well up the river toward Galilee. Conder discovered a well-known ford near Beisan called Abarah, near the mouth of the valley of Jezreel. This is 20 miles from Cana and 60 miles from Bethany, and all the conditions of the place fit in with the history." See also Bethany (2).
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
( Βηθαβαρά , quasi, בּית עֲבָרָה , House Of The Ford Or Ferry ) , a place beyond Jordan ( Πέραν Τοῦ Ι᾿Ορ .), in which, according to the Received Text of the N.T., John was baptizing ( John 1:28), apparently at the time that he baptized Christ (comp. John 1:29; John 1:39; John 1:35). If this reading be the correct one, Bethabara may be identical with Beth-Barah (See Beth- Barah) (q.v.), the ancient ford of Jordan, of which the men of Ephraim took possession after Gideon's defeat of the. Midianites ( Judges 7:24); or possibly with BETH-NIMRAH (See Beth-Nimrah) (q.v.), on the east of the river, nearly opposite Jericho. But the oldest Mss. (A, B ) and the Vulgate have not "Bethabara," but Bethany ( Βηθανία ), a reading which Origen states ( Opp. 2, 130, ed. Huet) to have obtained in almost all the copies of his time ( Σχέδον Πάντα Τὰ Ἀντίγραφα ), though altered by him in his edition of the Gospel on topographical grounds (see Kuinol, in loc.). In favor of Bethabara are
(a) changed by copyists into one so unfamiliar as Bethabara, while the reverse — the change from an unfamiliar to a familiar name — is of frequent occurrence.
(b) The fact that Origen, while admitting that the majority of MSS. were in favor of Bethany, decided, notwithstanding, for Bethabara.
(c) That Bethabara was still known in the days of Eusebius and Jerome ( Onomasticon, Βηθααβαρά , Bethbaara, which is expressly stated to have been the scene of John's baptism), and greatly resorted to by persons desirous of baptism. Still the fact remains that the most ancient MSS. have "Bethany," and that name has been accordingly restored to the text by Lachmann, Tischendorf, and other modern editors. The locality must, therefore, be sought by this name on the east shore of the Jordan. (See Bethany).
Lieut. Conder thinks he has recovered this site in the present ford Abaurah, about a mile north of the place where the stream el-Jalud falls into the Jordan opposite Beisan (Tent-work, 2, 64 sq.); but he gives no decisive reason for the identification beyond the correspondence in name and the vicinity to Galilee, which he contends is required by the note of time in John 2:1.
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
Bethab´ara or Bethbarah. This name means place of the ford, i.e. of or over the Jordan; and is mentioned in John 1:28, as the place where John baptized. The best manuscripts and recent editions, however, have Bethany: the reading Bethabara appears to have arisen from the conjecture of Origen, who in his day found no such place on the Jordan as Bethany, but knew a town called Bethabara, where John was said to have baptized, and therefore took the unwarrantable liberty of changing the reading.
- Bethabara from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- Bethabara from Fausset's Bible Dictionary
- Bethabara from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- Bethabara from Smith's Bible Dictionary
- Bethabara from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- Bethabara from Morrish Bible Dictionary
- Bethabara from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- Bethabara from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- Bethabara from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
- Bethabara from Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature