Sea of Galilee
Today we started our day with a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. Our guide gave us an orientation to the entire region as we floated in the middle of the lake. From there we hiked to the top of Mount Arbel. This mountain has an incredible view of the entire region where Jesus spent the majority of his life and ministry.
Mount Arbel (Hebrew: הר ארבל, Har Arbel) is a mountain in The Lower Galilee near Tiberias in Israel, with high cliffs, views of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, trails to a cave-fortress, and ruins of an ancient synagogue. Mt. Arbel sits across from Mount Nitai; their cliffs were created as a result of the Jordan Rift Valley and the geological faults that produced the valleys.
We then went to Tabgha, this area was significant to the people here because there are seven streams that feed into the Sea of Galilee. This causes warmer water which is better for fishing. Because of this it is thought to be where the disciples spent most of their time as fishermen. Later Jesus would call them to follow him near this area. From there we hiked up the hill to the site where it is believed Jesus gave the sermon on the mount.
Two miles west of Capernaum is what Josephus referred to as the “well of Capernaum.” Undoubtedly a popular fishing spot of the locals because of its famous “seven springs,” Heptapegon (today the name has been corrupted to Tabgha) is the traditional location for several episodes in Jesus’ ministry.
The next site we visited was Chorazin this was a first century city. Here we learned about how the people lived and worked at the time of Jesus. We also learned about the synagogue and early school system that every boy would go through with hopes to become a rabbi.
The synagogue at Chorazin is a typical “Galilean” style synagogue. These synagogues are characterized by 1) a basilical shape with three hallways separated by two rows of pillars; 2) three doorways and the central one is the largest; 3) benches around the interior walls; 4) a stylobate to support the weight of the arches.
The last site we visited was Capernaum. This was one of the most important cities in this region because it was one of the biggest crossroads for trade between Asia, Africa and Europe. This is the city that Peter, James, Matthew, and John were from. Jesus also performed the majority of his miracles there.
Finally, we experienced our first Shabbat led by our guide Ronen.
Jesus made Capernaum his home during the years of his ministry: “Leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum” (Matt 4:13).
Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen living in the village. Matthew the tax collector also dwelt here.
Capernaum is one of the three cities cursed by Jesus for its lack of faith.
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