THE SEA OF GALILEE
The Sea of Galilee is a large lake in the Northern part of Israel, 21 km long and 12 km wide. It is about 200m below (the Mediterranean) sea level and its greatest depth is 60m. Its shape resembles a harp.
In the Old Testament, the Sea of Galilee was known as the Sea of Kinnereth (Numbers 34:11), or Chinneroth (Joshua 12:3).
The harbour in Tiberias
Later, the name was changed to Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1). It was also sometimes called the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1, 23 and 21:1) because the town of Tiberias is on the shore. People began to call it the Sea of Galilee because it is close to the province of Galilee (Mat 4:18). In the New Testament Gospels, the words “the sea” usually refers to the Sea of Galilee.
The Sea of Galilee lies in the lower section of the Jordan Valley. It is located about 96km north of Jerusalem in a range of mountains. The mountains of Upper Galilee are northwest of the lake and rise to a height of 1200m above sea level, while the mountains on the east and west ascend about 600m. On the west, south, and east is the area known as the Decapolis.
At the northwest corner of the lake, the mountain wall flattens into the rich plain of Gennesaret. During the New Testament, the Sea of Galilee was surrounded by the towns of Capernaum, Bethsaida, Korazin, Magdala, Tiberias, and others.
The Sea of Galilee is an integral part of the Jordan River, which feeds it with water from the snowcapped Mount Hermon and the Lebanon Mountains. In its 105km course from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, the Jordan River drops 180m, an average of about four meters per km.
Most of the events of Jesus’ life took place in Galilee, especially around Gennesaret, the most densely populated area of Palestine. The Bible tells us that Jesus lived in Capernaum (Mat 4:13), and he did many miracles there (Mat 11:23). Because the area on the west of the lake was a health resort, Jesus found many sick people there and healed them (Mark 1:32-34 and 6:53-56).
Peter's commissioning - Tabgha, Sea of Galilee
Other important events that happened near the Sea of Galilee include the Sermon on the Mount, traditionally near Capernaum (Mat 5:1), the drowning of the swine in the region of the Gadarenes (8:28-34), the curse on Korazin (11:21), the calming of the sea (8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41 and Luke 8:22-24), and Jesus’ walking on the water (Mat 14:22-23, Mark 6:45-51 and John 6:16-21).
Affordable accommodation in Tiberias
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Sea of Galilee Hospice
Safed Road. PO Box 104, Tiberias 14100
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