Sea of galilee
Where does the water of the Sea of Galilee come from?
Fun to know:
First, Sea of Galilee is NOT a sea. It is a freshwater lake. Then why is it called “Sea” if it is a lake? It is because in biblical times, Hebrew speakers of the southeastern Levant had only one word for “large amount of water” which is “yam” (Hebrew: יָם ) such as in Josh 12:3. “Lake” (Hebrew: (אַגַם in biblical Hebrew such as in Exodus 7:19, Isaiah 35:7, Psalm 114:8 described a pond or pool. The normal capacity of the Sea of Galilee is nearly 100 billion gallons of water. Therefore, it is definitely larger than a pool or pond.
Second, Sea of Galilee goes by three other names: the Sea of Chinnereth (Numbers 34:11); the lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1); and the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1).
Third, in modern times, the Sea of Galilee is known as Lake Kinneret to Israelis. A tradition holds that the name Kinneret comes from the Hebrew word Kinnor (Hebrew: כִּנּוֹר), “harp” because the shape of the sea looks like a harp. The Babylonian Talmud (Megillah 6a) said: “Why was it called Kinneret? Because its fruits are sweet like the music of a harp.”
View from mt. arbel
The cliffs of Mt. Arbel are one of the best places to get a beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee. They have several trails and the one I walked is the shortest one – The Carob Tree Lookout. It took only 30 minutes to hike back and forth from the parking area to the Carob Tree Lookout. As you can see, the view is stunning and breath-taking! Praise the Lord! The weather was great on that day too!
According to the historical records, much blood was spilled from wars fought on Mt. Arbel. Assyrian invaders killed many Israelites by forcing them off the mountain (Hosea 10:14). According to Jewish historian Josephus, a Seleucid general executed many people at Arbel, and in 39 BCE, Herod the Great killed many of his enemies on Mt. Arbel by smoking them out of the caves.
Several tour companies offer boat rides around the Sea of Galilee. Although this is not a fishing boat, it reminds me that fishing was a common trade in Jesus’ day. Fishing was not only hard work, but also fishermen already knew how to risk their lives for a living. Four (Peter, Andrew, James and John) out of the twelve disciples were fishermen.
Inside the Boat
Inside the boat is roomy. While boating, we were told that there are more than eighteen species of fish in the Sea of Galilee, and most of them are kosher according to Jewish rabbinic law (Lev. 11:9 “Of all the creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams you may eat any that have fins and scales.”).
mid of the sea
When the boat was in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, I was thinking about miracles that happened here: the first was a miracle against nature (supernatural), and the second was more like science fiction—a teleport.
Jesus Walks on the Water
John 6:16-21: “16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’ 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.”
There are two miracles that happened in John 6:16-21 but one is always overlooked. In order to understand both miracles, we have to understand the geographical setting:
- The Sea of Galilee sits about 700 feet below the level of the Mediterranean Sea, just 30 miles to the West. It is the lowest freshwater lake in the world and the second lowest lake in the world (the first one is the Dead Sea).
- It is surrounded on three sides by high mountains which caused the wind tunnel effect.
- When the cool winds drop down from the mountains and mix with the warmer air rising from the Sea of Galilee, the waters of the sea stir up quickly.
In John 6:18 a strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough without warning. According to Wright’s book on page 237, “local fisherman report that the highest waves they have experienced reach six feet, creating walls of water plenty high enough to swamp the low-slung fishing boats of Jesus’ time.”
The first miracle: Our Jewish Messiah Jesus performed a miracle that no human can do. He walked on the water (verse 6:19). This is against nature and only the Son of God can do that.
The width of the Sea of Galilee is approximately eight miles. When the disciples had rowed about three or four miles (v 9), they were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus walked toward them on the sea, the disciples took Jesus into the boat. Then immediately the boat reached the shore and arrived at Capernaum. How could a boat row at once to the shore especially when they were in the middle of the Sea. Our Lord is omnipresent and the miracle of teleport is performed here.
capernaum from the sea
While thinking how wonderful was the teleport that Jesus performed, I looked at Capernaum far away and was amused that there is no way this modern boat ride could take us to Capernaum in less than 20 minutes.
first century boat
In 1986, two brothers discovered an ancient Galilean boat. The Israel Antiquities Authority rescued the boat in an eleven-day excavation and eleven-year long conservation process in a specially built pool. The boat was built in the typical ancient Mediterranean “shell-based” construction. It is firmly dated to the first centuries BCE-CE. The boat is permanently exhibited in the Yigal Allon Museum at Kibbutz Ginosar.
The model gives us a full picture of how a first century fishing boat looks. The boat is 27 feet long, 7.5 feet wide and 4.3 feet high. It could have the capacity for 15 people. That means it could definitely be large enough to have Jesus himself and his 12 disciples on the same boat. The boat consisted of 10 different kinds of lumber. It reminds us that our prophet Ezekiel mentioned this in Ezekiel 27:4-6.
Ezekiel 27:4-6: “4 Your domain was on the high seas; your builders brought your beauty to perfection.5 They made all your timbers of juniper from Senir; they took a cedar from Lebanon to make a mast for you. 6 Of oaks from Bashan they made your oars; of cypress wood from the coasts of Cyprus they made your deck, adorned with ivory.”
A beautiful sunset on the Sea of Galilee! This picture was taken in the summer, and the weather started cooling down after sunset. During the summer in Israel, the temperature can reach over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Perhaps that is why Simon worked hard all night to catch fish. Another reason to catch fish at night is that it is easier to catch big fish because they’re more active at night. Big fish tend to hide during the day because they can sense a lot of activity on the surface. Therefore, they hunt for their prey at night when the surface is already calm. Moreover, fishing at night allows you to have better visibility compared to daytime fishing, especially if there is moonlight.
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
- After our boat ride, we stayed at a resort called Eingev Holiday Resort. It was a wonderful experience. The room in which I stayed is called the View Room because we had a view to the Sea of Galilee! We had an exit door to a large balcony with a sitting area and a BBQ grill. It was 250 USD per night and included a delicious and sumptuous buffet style breakfast. The room was spacious, about 344 square feet.
- The bed was comfy too. It was suitable for a couple with one child.
- The bathroom was super clean, nice and big!
sunset at the sea
Since it was near the shore of the Sea of Galilee, I just walked to the Sea and had fun!
The resort also had another facility with a place for outdoor exercise and a playground.
Our room had a patio with a green lawn, trees, vegetation, and more importantly, you could see the Sea, hear the waves, and feel the breeze. It was a good place to meditate on God’s Word.
courtyard to the Sea of galilee
All the View Rooms had a patio with a green lawn outside. It was a good place to walk along the green lawn after dinner.
A rich Israeli-style breakfast was served in a buffet style. They had a variety of foods such as salad, main dishes, fruit, dessert, and various kinds of beverages. It looked like a five-star hotel lunch buffet! I loved it!