The Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee (Yam Kinneret in Hebrew) is referred in the Bible as the Sea of Chinnereth or Chinneroth, Gennesar, Lake of Gennesaret, and Sea of Tiberias, a name that has survived in the modern Arabic “Bohayrat Tabareyya”. It was here that Jesus (pbuh) met Simon Peter, James and John, His first disciples, and it was here that He performed many miracles: Jesus (pbuh) stilled the raging storm on the Sea of Galilee that was about to swamp their boat, He walked on the stormy water to His disciples, preached the Sermon of the Mount, and performed the miracle of the draught of fish. “Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered round him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge” (Mark 4:1). Near its shores, Jesus (pbuh) fed the 5000 men, women and children from the miraculous multiplication of five loaves of bread and two fish (The miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes). Mary of Magdala (Mary Magdalene), the first human to see and speak with the Savior after His resurrection, was from the town of Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Galilee which means “circle” is both the name of the freshwater lake and the region where it is located. The Sea of Galilee lies roughly 212 m below the level of the Mediterranean, the 2nd lowest point on the earth’s surface after the Dead Sea. It is 21 km long and 13 km at its greatest width, with a circumference of 53 km, and up to 48 m deep. The constantly mild climate and the lake resources have made this an important site since antiquity. It has been a plentiful source of sustenance and has witnessed many historical dramas. During the 1st century, the Sea of Galilee was of major commercial significance. Many Galilean roads passed by it, and much travel to and from the east crossed the Jordan Rift there. Fish was a major food source in the area, and the fishing industry flourished because there was no other significant freshwater lake in the entire region. Capernaum (or Kefar Nahum), which played a sizeable role in the ministry of Jesus (pbuh), was a center of that industry. The other lake towns of note among the 9 cities that flourished on shores of the Sea of Galilee were Bethsaida, which means “the fishing house”, and Tiberias, the capital of Galilee, a gentile town constructed by Herod Antipas in 17 AD when Jesus (pbuh) was a young man.

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