April 26 – Galilee

Our first day in beautiful Galilee, and 5th day of touring!


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Along the shores of Galilee:

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Mount of Beatitudes

The Mount of Beatitudes refers to the hill in northern Israel where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. The traditional location for the Mount of Beatitudes is on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, between Capernaum and Gennesaret (Ginosar). The actual location of the Sermon on the Mount is not certain, but the present site (also known as Mount Eremos) has been commemorated for more than 1600 years. The site is very near Tabgha. Other suggested locations have included the nearby Mount Arbel, or even the Horns of Hattin.

The so-called “Sermon on the Mount” is recorded in Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6.  The alleged discrepancy between Matthew’s version being on a hill and Luke’s being on a level place is easily reconciled with observation of many level places on the Galilean hillsides.  Scripture gives no indication of the exact location of this event, but the Byzantines built a church to commemorate it at the bottom of the hill.  Some of Napoleon’s men placed it on the nearby Arbel mountain.

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Bethsaida

Long ago, Bethsaida was thought to be located near the present day shore of the Sea of Galilee; however, not all biblical archaeologists believed that to be true. In 1987, Dr. Rami Arav, an Israeli archaeologist, spent ten days examining what he thought was the real location. He found a large mound called et-Tell, about 1.5 miles north of the Lake. His intense investigation of the site since then has revealed that et-Tell is most likely the ancient site of Bethsaida.

There are several possible reasons for the abnormal distance between the site being excavated as Bethsaida and the location of the Sea of Galilee today. The water level could have dropped because of irrigation or population usage. The delta might have been filled in by sediment over the centuries, or there might have been an earthquake or tectonic rift that lifted the city above the Sea.

In the beginning of the first century, Bethsaida was just a small village in the tetrarchy of Gaulanitis that bordered Galilee. Philip, the son of Herod the Great, decided to make it his capital city in 30 C.E.. He renamed it Bethsaida-Julia in honor of the wife of Augustus Caesar and rebuilt it as a cosmopolitan city in the Greek-Roman style. Philip died there in 34 C.E. and was buried in a great public funeral ceremony.

Excavations have revealed two large Hellenistic houses of the first century. One is very large and is believed to have belonged to a fisherman’s family because of the fishing hooks, lead weights, and needles found there. The other house is thought to be a winemaker’s home. It had four large wine jars, some pieces of jewelry, a hook and some anchors.

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10  And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.

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Magdala

Magdala is the home of Mary Magdalene.  We viewed a pre-70 synagogue and discussed Mary’s role as a follower of Jesus.

Magdala (Aramaic); Migdal (Hebrew) – the word in Hebrew means “tower” or “tower of strength, greatness.”  In Greek it is known as Taricheae (“salted fish”) because of the industry here.

Magdala is located about three miles north of Tiberias.  The city thrived in the first century and through the Byzantine period. It was one of the sites which Josephus fortified when he was governor of Galilee – before his defection to the Romans.  When the city fell to Titus in the struggle of the Jews against the Romans, 6,700 Jews were killed, 6,000 of the strongest were sent to Nero to dig the Corinthian canal, and 30,400 were auctioned off as slaves.


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Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee, also Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias, is the largest freshwater lake in Israel.  It is approximately 53 km (33 miles) in circumference, about 21 km (13 miles) long, and 13 km (8 miles) wide. The lake has a total area of 166 km (64 sq. mi), and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m (141 feet). At 214 metres (702 ft.) below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake in the world (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake). The lake is fed partly by underground springs, although its main source is the Jordan River, which flows through it from north to south.

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Much of the ministry of Jesus occurred on the shores of Lake Galilee. In those days, there was a continuous ribbon development of settlements and villages around the lake and plenty of trade and ferrying by boat. The Synoptic Gospels of Mark (1:14-20), Matthew (4:18-22), and Luke (5:1-11) describe how Jesus recruited four of his apostles from the shores of Lake Galilee: the fishermen Simon and his brother Andrew, and the brothers John and James. One of Jesus’ famous teaching episodes, the Sermon on the Mount, is supposed to have been given on a hill overlooking the lake. Many of his miracles are also said to have occurred here.

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Yigal Allon Museum: Houses the Jesus Boat

In the Galilee seaside village of Kibbutz Ginosar, a historic archaeological discovery was made on January 24th, 1986. The discovery rocked the worlds of faith, history, and archaeology. What had been found was a Bible-era artifact like no other. Some consider it to be among the top ten biblical archaeological discoveries ever found. The Jesus Boat is a one-of-a-kind actual touch-point back to the exact time and place of Jesus!

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 Mensa Christi: Traditional site where Jesus handed his staff to Peter


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