The Very Words of Jesus
We started Day 4 off with a 6:30 wake up call, which by this time we are used to, and went up for breakfast. Breakfast was amazing, as usual, as well as the sunrise over the calm Sea of Galilee.
After breakfast, we headed to a spot in which overlooked all of the Sea of Galilee, Mt. Arbel. The original hike many people took during biblical times, and today, would take up to 3 hours. Seeing that it was already high 70’s with a high percent of humidity, driving sounded much better. Part of the history of this mountain comes during the period when Israelis, who did not agree with the politics during that time, would hide high up in the cliffs of this mountain and throw rocks down at the people along the King’s Highway. Rome, did not particularly appreciate this and sent Harod, yes thee Harod back when he was only a general, to take care of this. It didn’t end well to sum it up.
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.
Next on today’s journey led us to Korazim (Chorazin), a village due north of Capernaum. Here, we studied the ruins of the town, the average citizen and their way of life, along with the synagogue. This was very insightful how Jesus lived during his time. The synagogue also showed us how the whole town was circled around their religion with the schoolhouse even being attached.
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.
Monte Delle Beatitudini (Mount of Beatitudes) was our next stop. Here was where Jesus gave his famous teaching found in Matthew 5-7. Once we walked out a ways from the road we stopped and took turns reading this passage. Reading it here where Jesus said those very words brought them to life. Many of us were moved by the sheer power it had.
Mount of Beatitudes
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.
After an emotional reading we departed to an amazing authentic Israeli restaurant. We ate Falafel and ice cream which alone relieved the heat but sadly it was only temporary. We then headed into the area where 70% of Jesus’s miracles took place.
Tabgah was our next stop. This is where Jesus could have fed 5000 men. Ronen explained how possible this could be due to the geography surrounding the site. Multiple springs located around the landmark would’ve drawn fish closer and made it easier to fish and support so many people. This place was also significant when Jesus said to Peter to “feed my lambs” (found in John 21:15).
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.
We head to our final destination for today’s tour to Capernaum. Here, 90% of Jesus’s ministry took place along with a synagogue where Jesus preached. Walking and reading the word of God in a synagogue where we know 100% Jesus actually walked and preached was unbelievable.
To finish our powerful and moving day, we have dinner with the Jews in the hotel as they celebrate the end to their sabbath. What a day it was.
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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