This morning, we woke up and outside our doors was the Sea of Galilee. At this time in the morning, fishermen of the Bible would already be done with their fishing for the day and would be coming back to the shore for a fish breakfast. The Evangelical Triangle, consisting of Chorazin (Korazim), Capernaum and Bethsaida, is where Jesus did most of his teaching. Today we visited two of those sites. At the ruins of Chorazin, Eddie Buelna read Matthew 11:20-24, introducing us to this village.
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 stones of the buildings were much darker in color than those of the places we’ve visited previous, and Ronen explained that it is because the stones were volcanic stone, bassalt, that came from the Golan Heights. Chorazin, alike many Bible-era towns and villages, is very family oriented, with sons building outward upon their fathers’ houses and so on. We saw a manger made of stone, one like Jesus would have been laid in. Here we walked through a synagogue, or a House of Assembly. Only seven synagogues have been found from before 70 AD. After the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, between 70-200 AD people started building more synagogues, calling them their temple and facing toward Jerusalem. Up to 300 synagogues of this time period have been found. Walking through the synagogue, Ronen explained the different elements of the building and the school system. Seeing the synagogue come to life was an illuminating experience, connecting the information we had learned before.
Next we briefly visited the Mount of Beatitudes, the place of tradition for the best sermon about society and spiritual growth that Jesus gave, and read through Matthew 5-7 together. At Tabgah, Kelsey shared how this was where Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:1-20). Tabgah, short for the Greek word Heptagon, meaning “seven” for seven springs, is also likely where Jesus fed the 5000. Capernaum is another part of the Evangelical Triangle and an incredible experience. Our study guides contain a list of Jesus’ Miracles, and of the thirty-four listed, eleven of them were performed in Capernaum. It’s an important part of Jesus’ ministry because Capernaum is a crossroad of the world, meaning news of Jesus’ miracles and teachings would spread efficiently to regions beyond. Brian Schwab, School of Ministry student, read Matthew 8:5-13 and then asked us to truly recognize the authority of Jesus.
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.
Being fed spiritually after seeing Capernaum, walking in the synagogue that Jesus taught in and seeing Peter’s house, we were ready to be fed physically with the popular Israeli food: falafel (chickpeas ground and mixed with vegetables, fried, and then stuffed in a pita pocket with more vegetables and special sauces). We were ready for a short hike to the top of Mount Arbel where Taylor explained as we stared in awe at the view that this is likely a place where Jesus came to pray (Mark 1:35, 6:46; Luke 5:16). The next half an hour was spent connecting with our Creator in prayer, admiring Him for the captivating view from the top of the mountain.
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.
Filled with renewed spirit, we hiked down the mountain and rode on the bus to the docks where we would board the boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. In the middle of our voyage, we gathered together and worshipped God on the boat, thanking Him individually for how great He is. After this, Ronen taught us a song and dance in Hebrew as we arrived at the shore of Ein Gev. Before heading back to the kibbutz, we learned about Olea’s olive oil products, sampling and even purchasing our own souvenirs of the finest olive oil in Israel. To finish our day, we spent time in fellowship down on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, gathered around a campfire, roasting marshmallows, and processing what we have been learning together. We are expecting rain tomorrow, but more than that, we are expectant that God will pour more into our lives.