Sea of Galilee

Day 3 – Israel 2013




Caesarea Philipppi

Mt of Beatitudes

Sea of Galilee

I.                    Introduction

  1. You are in the Northern arena of Israel.  The phrase “from Dan to Beersheba” is a reference to the Northern most part of Israel to the Southern most part.  (Judges 20:1, I Sam 3:20, I Kings 4:25…)
  2. You are scheduled to stay in Tiberias, located along the coast of the Sea of Galilee.
    1. The Mt of the Beatitudes is on the west side of sea and north of Tiberias.
    2. Capernaum – the hometown of Jesus is on the northern part of the Sea.  (Mt 4:13, Mt 13:1)
    3. Caesarea Philippi is located North of the Sea of Galilee at the foot of Mt.Hermon.  You should be able to see snow on the top Mt.Hermon.
    4. The places you are scheduled to visit during your time at Tiberias are primarily found in the New Testament portion of the Scripture – and in the Gospels.
  3. The Sea of Galilee (aka the Sea of Tiberias (Jn 6); Sea of Chinnereth (Num 34:11) or Kinnereth (Josh 12:3); Lake of Gennesaret – Lk 5:1)
    1. The OT name Kinnereth means “lyre” or harp.  It is called Kinnereth possibly because it is shaped like a lyre (kinnor) (opinions vary).
    2. Mt (13:1; 6:18) and Mk (5:21; 4:1) use sea (though some of the English Bibles translate it “lake” Mt 13:1 NIV lake; ESV sea).  Luke uses lake and it is translated that way (Lk 8:22,23,33).  Mt and Mk probably use the more common or colloquial name.  Luke the more precise – Lk 1:1-4.
    3. The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake approximately 5 miles wide by 12 miles long.
    4. It is fed from the North by the Jordan River.

1.      The Jordan River north of the Sea of Galilee flows south and parallel to the border of the tribe of Dan.

2.      The city of Hazor is located on the Jordan north of the Sea of Galilee. (Judges 4 – Jabin, a Canaanite king who reigned in Hazor was defeated when Jael drove a tent peg through his general’s head.)

1) Joshua burned Hazor (Josh 1:11-12).  It was a city that controlled access to Israel from the North.

3.      The Jordan is above sea level until it gets to Hazor.  From Hazor to the Sea of Galilee it drops to about 700 feet below sea level as it approaches the Sea of Galilee.

4.      The Sea of Galilee is below sea level.

5.      As the Jordan River leaves the Sea of Galilee going south to the Dead Sea it continues its descent.

6.      When you think of the Jordan River don’t think of something like the Bush or Broad River Columbia.  Scale it down.

    1. There has been a fishing industry on the Sea of Galilee since ancient times, and it continues today.

(John 21:1-6; Mt 4:18ff)

    1. Storms can suddenly appear on the Sea.

a.       Jesus’ mastery over the waters of the sea was a demonstration of his identity.  The disciples asked “Who is this?”  (Mark 4:40-41; Mt 14:32-33)

    1. As you read the book of John, John knows both the Jewish names for places in Israel and the Roman names.  He shows firsthand knowledge of geography, places, history… He had been to the places and seen the places he writes about in his gospel.

a.       John 6:1; 21:1 – He knows the Roman name update of the Sea of Galilee to the Sea of Tiberias.

b.      John 21:2; 2:1; 4:46 – He tells his readers “Cana in Galilee” because Cana was not widely known and adding “in Galilee” helps his readers locate it.

  1. You will be traveling mostly in areas west and north of the Sea of Galilee, in the area of Galilee.
    1. Galilee is divided into two regions – Upper Galilee and Lower Galilee.
    2. Early in Jesus’ ministry Jesus was headquarted in Galilee.

a.       In Mt, Mk and Lk – the synoptic gospels early on have Christ in Galilee.  He later moves out of Galilee to the regions around Galilee.  And then toward the end we find him in on the way to Jerusalem and in Jerusalem.

b.      John is not so geographically organized.

  1. The region East of the Sea of Galilee (which you probably will not be visiting but will be able to see it) belonged to the tribe of Manasseh. Three of the tribes had land allotted to them on the eastern side of the Jordan.  The land was good for livestock.  Numbers 32:1-2. (Amos 4:1!) Gad and Reuben are the other two tribes. They are south of Manasseh and down the east side of the Jordan River to the Dead Sea.
    1. Manasseh has the area known to us as the Golan Heights.  In the Bible it is often called Golan of Bashan.
  2. The BeqaaValley (valley of Lebanon – Josh 11:16)
    1. As you travel north from the Sea of Galilee to Caesarea Philippi you will be in the Beqaa valley.
    2. The Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges (ROR 8-9)

a.       The Lebanon range is west of the Beqaa valley.  The Anti-Lebanon range is on the east side of the Beqaa valley.

b.      Trade with Damascus and nations north of Israel passed through the Beqaa valley and between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges.   Control of this passage way was important to Israel’s economy.

c.       Song of Sol 4:8-16 – the valley was well-watered and its rich soil allowed for lush gardens.  The fragrances of the gardens would waft through the valley. Solomon likens his bride to a garden in the Beqaa valley.

d.      Ps 104 – I will leave for your trip.  The language is full of imagery from the Beqaa valley.  In Hebrews “biqah” means “valley” .  This is the word used in Ps. 104:8.  Other imagery of the Beqaa valley in the Ps – the cedars of Lebanon, the watering of the mountains, springs flowing between the mountains…

    1. The Conqueror’s Corridor runs down the valley between the mountain ranges.

a.       After Thutmois III wins at Megiddo in 1480 BC he takes 10 cities in the Beqaa valley.

b.      The Battle of Kadesh – 1274 BC – the Egyptians under Ramses II went to battle against the Hittities.  It was the largest chariot battle in the history of the world with up to 5000 chariots.  Ramses marched and rode his chariots for a month from Egypt through Gaza, past Megiddo, across the JezreelValley, through the ArbelPass and up the Beqaa valley to Kadesh. The battle ended in a stalemate.

c.       Saul – I Sam 14:47 – after he becomes king fights enemies on all sides – Zobah is in the Beqaa valley.

d.      David (1000 BC) – 2 Sam 8:8; I Chron 18:9-10  – David eliminated the Philistine threat on the coast and then headed north into Syria to secure that entrance into Israel. Zobah is in the Beqaa valley.  David takes a great quantity of bronze from this raid.  Chalcis, a nearby town, means “coppertown”

e.       I Kings 11:23-25 – Under Solomon God raises up an enemy to Israel, Rezon, and Zobah is no longer held in check as it was under David.  It becomes a place of trouble for Israel. Solomon lost control of the Northern gateway from Syria into Israel through the Beqaa valley.

f.        The Assyrians and Babylonians down this corridor (Jer 50:3, Zech 2:6)

g.       Closer to the time of Christ, Roman conquers entered the land through the Beqaa valley.

h.        Herod the Great, after being named “King of the Jews” by Octavian and Antony enters the land through Galilee to regain his rule.  (Jos. Ant. Book XIV ch 15)  He would have come down the Beqaa valley into Galilee through the ArbelPass and Horns of Hittim – near the place where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. (Blessed are the peacemakers).  Without mercy he slaughtered those who opposed him along the Sea of Galilee near Mt.Arbel.

    1. Amos 1:5 – In his indictment of Damascus Amos calls the Beqaa valley the “Valley of Aven” or  “SinValley”.  Aven means, “wickedness, disaster”
    2. The Beqaa valley continues south of the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea and on to the Red Sea. .  The 12 spies traveled up the Beqaa valley as far as Hammath and Rehob (south of the Sea of Galilee)(ROR 17) Numbers 13:21.  They discovered here a land flowing with milk and honey and fruit.

II.                 Tiberias

A.     Tiberias is located along the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

B.     Tiberias was founded by Herod Antipas around 20 AD – during the time of the life of Christ. (Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great. Antipas ruled in Galilee. Joseph chose to go to Galilee where he ruled as opposed to Judea where Archelaus ruled – Mt 2.  – Antipas put JB to death; He wants to kill Jesus, and Jesus calls him “that fox” Lk 13:31-32; Jesus stood trial before him Lk 23:7ff).

1.      Herod Antipas  named Tiberias after the Roman Emperor Tiberius

2.      List of Roman rulers and emperors around the time of the Bible:

Julius Caesar – 100-44 BC

Second Triumvirate – Antony, Octavian, Lepidus  – 43-33

Caesar Augustus (Octavian) – 31 BC-14 AD

Tiberius – 14-37 AD

    a. Emperor during Jesus’ public ministry.

Caligula – 37-41 AD

Claudius 41-54

Nero – 54-68

Galba – 68-69 – assassinated

Otho – 69 – committed suicide

Vitellius – 69 – resigned and murdered

Vespasian – 69-70 – got sick and died

3.      The sons of Herod the Great

a. Herod Antipas – tetrarch of Galilee and Perea.

b. Archelaus – ethnarch who ruled in Judea, Samaria, Idumea

c. Philip – tetrarch who ruled roughly from Bethsaida to Caesarea Philippi and east of

    those areas.

C.     Tiberias played a prominent political role in Galilee – though no real role in the NT.

1. The hot springs just south of Tiberias was a draw for the new Roman city

D.     The Jews initially considered the city unclean because it had a cemetery in it. In the second century the Jews declared it clean and became a center for Jewish study.

III.               Caesarea Philippi

A.     Caesarea Philippi was built by Herod Philip in 14 AD honor of the Caesar Augustus.  It has the tag Philippi meaning “of Philip” to differentiate it from Caesarea (where you were the other day) on the Mediterranean. Philip is the ruler in Galilee when Joseph and Mary return from Egypt with Christ (Mt 2:22.) He is a son of Herod the Great.

B.     The confession of Peter – Mt 16:13-20

1.      You are the Christ…on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against you

a)      The gates of hell (See articles at ) – basically a hole or cave in the ground that led to the underworld or place of the powers of death and darkness. There is one in Caesarea Philippi. Jesus tells Peter the gates of hell will not be able to stand when the church takes the identity of Christ out into the world.  The church is to be pro-active in taking the gospel out.  Not passively waiting for people to come to it.  The victory is already Christ’s.

b)      Mt 16:26 – shortly after Peter’s confession while still in the area Jesus says “What will it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his soul.”

c)      Caesarea Philippi lies along the Conquers Corridor.  Men had long gone down this highway fighting battles to win the world, but did nothing for their soul.

C.     The Transfiguration – Mt 17:1 – Jesus takes Peter, James and John to a high mountain where they hear God say of Christ “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him” . It may well be Mt Hermon near Caesarea Philippi. The text seems to indicate they stayed in Galilee near Capernaum  (The other traditional mount is Mt Tabor near the JezreelValley. You can see it while in the JezreelValley.)

1)      From the Conquers Corridor Jesus would be making a great contrast in his kingdom which involves suffering and the giving up of his life with that of the other conquers that have gone down highway.

IV.              Dan

A.     Dan was a tribe of Israel that relocated to the northern part of Israel when they could not drive out the inhabitants of the land in the area they were allotted.

B.     Dan was also a city in the territory of Dan, north of the Sea of Galilee. As we said earlier, this city is used to mark the northern most spot in Israel. Dan to Beersheba – North to South. (II Samuel 24:2).  There is a land blockage north of Dan which made getting to Dan from the north a little difficult. The blockage is called the Bir Ed-Dahr blockage. (GEO 2-3)

1.      Judges 3:3 – The Hivites lived near Mt.Lebanon where Dan eventually settled and were left in the area to test Israel.

a. Joshua 24:17 – the Hivites are among those God gave into the hand of Joshua – see below (VII) – the feeding of the 4000 – Christ comes for them.

b. Solomon during his reign would make the Hivites his slaves (I Kings 9:22)

2.      Judges 18:1 – The tribe of Dan was seeking a place to settle since they could not take the land allotted to them near Joppa.  18:28 – They take Laish near Beth-Rehob, a city in a valley because they had no relationships with anyone else. They renamed the city, Dan.  Idolatry practiced there.

3.      2 Kings 15:29 – Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, brings his army down the Beqaa valley to the area near Dan and captures cities in the area on his way to defeat and deport people in Northern Israel.  733-732 BC.  Tig III records taking 13,520 people to Assyria. Shalmaneser V, Tig III’s son, finished the North off in 722 BC. I Kings 17:1f.

4.      Jer 8:16 – When the Babylonians are coming to take the Southern kingdom they come down the Beqaa valley and when they get to Dan, the snorting of their horses is heard as they pass through the land blockage before getting to Dan. Dan trembles.

C.     Dan is also a river in the area that feeds the Jordan River. The river is fed by springs which are in part supplied by rainfall and snow melting from Mt.Hermon.  These waters feed the subterranean springs.

1. There are also waterfalls along the Dan River.

V.                 Mt of Beatitudes

A.     At the end of Mt 4 Jesus is in Galilee teaching in the synagogues and healing in the area of Galilee.  People from Syria, Jerusalem, Judea and the Decapolis and across the Jordan are gathering around him. Mt. 5:1 tells us he went up on a mountainside and sat down and began to teach.  The exact location is not given to us in Scripture.  The traditional site is at Mt Eremos, near Capernaum.

1.      Nearby is Taricheae, a place where fish were salted and preserved.

a. The Aramaic name is Magdala, where Mary Magdalene was from. Lk 8:2.

2.      Nearby is the Plain of Gennesaret where Josephus tells us the soil is fertile and all kinds of plants grow there.  “Consider the lilies of the field…”Mt 6:28ff.  “By their fruit…good tree…bad tree” Mt 7:15ff.

3.      The Conquerors Corridor ran right by this area.  (See above).

B.     In Luke a similar message is given by Christ – he goes down to a level place to deliver the message in Lk.  6:17. The exact location is not known, however, it seems to be during the time of his ministry in Galilee. So the Plain of Gennesaret or someplace nearby would seem to fit.

VI.              Capernaum

A.     The city lies in ruins.

B.     Literally the name means “village of Nahum”.  Whether it is the village of the OT prophet can not be verified in Scripture.

C.     Hometown of Jesus (Mt 4:13, 13:1; Mk 2:1, 3:19)

D.     Peter and Andrew lived in Capernaum, though their hometown was Bethsaida. (Mk 1:29).

1.      You can see a house which is said to be Peter’s house.

E.      Jesus raises Peter’s mother-in-law here (Mk 1:29)

F.      Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum to begin his ministry.  To begin an international ministry he went to a town where there was international traffic.  And it was near the border of Israel and Gentile lands. Jesus was strategically reaching out to the Gentiles by moving to Capernaum.

1.      Note how Mt quotes the OT in Mt 4:12-17 and makes reference to the move of Jesus into Capernaum to “Galilee of the Gentiles” to bring light to Gentiles who previously had been in darkness.

2.      The International Highway (The conquerors corridor) ran through here and so this is where the tax office of Matthew was.  (Mt 9:9, Mk 2:13-14)

3.      Mt 17:24-27 – Those who collected the temple tax ask Peter if Jesus pays the tax

4.      Luke 7:1-10; John 4:46-54 -It is in Capernaum that the (Gentile) centurion asks Jesus to heal his servant by the authority of his word.  And Jesus says “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel

G.     Mk 9:33-37 – At Jesus’ house the disciples argued over who was the greatest.

H.     Mt 11:23 & Lk 10:14 – Jesus pronounces a woe upon Capernaum. Jesus’ message the town he resided in is basically – “Do you expect to be raised to heavens because I visited you?” And he answers – No.  You will go to Sheol.  His own hometown will be punished and humiliated because they rejected him.  Acceptance from God is through faith in Christ and not mere association.

I.        Mt. 13:1 – Jesus went out of the house (presumably his in Capernaum) and sat by the lake and tells the story of the parable of the sower.


VII.            Other prominent places and events around the Sea of Galilee

A.     Gennesaret

1. Luke 5:1 – Standing by the Lake of Gennesaret – Jesus is probably near Gennesaret where he sees fishermen tending their nets and gets in the boat that belongs to Peter and tells him after a long fruitless  night to cast his nets out.  Peter does and brings in a big haul.

2. Mt 14:34 – Jesus walks on water and he and disciples land here afterwards.

B.     Taggha

1.      At Tabcha or Tagbha (a town just at the foot of the area of the Sermon on the Mount) there is a church which is said to be the place of the feeding of the 5000. The site is not id’d in Scripture.

2.      This is also said to be the area where Jesus meets the disciples in Galilee after the resurrection and forgives Peter – John 21.  (The Bible simply says this event occurred by the Sea of Tiberias (Sea of Galilee).  But this was a good fishing spot because there were springs nearby that fish were attracted to.

C.     Bethsaida of Galilee– hometown of Peter, Philip and Andrew (Jn 1:44, 12:21)

1.      Bethsaida means literally “house of fishing”

2.      Bethsaida may have been east of the Jordan near where the Jordan flows into the Sea of Galilee. (Morris, NICNT John p. 163 – Our map has a ? mark regarding its exact place.)

3.      According to Josephus the villages in this area are so full of people because the soil was rich.  Great agricultural land as the rives from  the north drained good soil into the area. Each village had at least 15,000 people. (War III.iii.2)

4.      Mk 8:22 – People bring a blind man to Christ in Bethsaida.  Slow healing.

5.      Chorazin (or Korazin)– Mt 11:21; Lk 10:13 – Jesus pronounces woe upon Chorazin and Bethsaida.

D.     In the area of Bethsaida near the Golan Heights – John 6:1-3 – Jesus goes to the “far side” of the Sea of Galilee –  (The feeding of the 5000)

1.      John 6:5 – Jesus asks Philip where they could buy bread. Why do you suppose he asked Philip? (John 12:21)

2.      John 6:10- There was plenty of grass in the place

3.      Feeding of the 5000 – 12 baskets left over.

4.      When the people want to make Jesus king, he withdraws to a mountain (Golan Heights area) John 6:15

5.      John 6:16 – the disciples head across the lake to Capernaum.  Jesus walks on water. Jesus gets in the boat and it lands in Capernaum.

E.      (The feeding of the 4000) – Mk 7:31ff, Mt 15:29ff

1.      Mark tells us Jesus is at the Sea of Galilee in the area of the Decapolis. (Mk. 7:31) On your maps this will be in the SE area of the Sea of Galilee. Mk 8 says during those days (the days when he was in this region).  It is a remote place – Mk 8:4.

2.      Feeds the 4000 and has 7 baskets left over here.

3.      Mt and Mk both tell both stories – feeding 5000 and 4000.

4.      12 baskets left over – occurs while Jesus is in Israel.  7 baskets left over occurs while Jesus is outside of Israel (Mt 15:31 – the people praised the God of Israel).

5.      12 baskets – 12 tribes of Israel.  7 baskets – 7 nations God gave over to Joshua – Josh 24:11.  These nations are now part of Christ’s focus. Christ is taking his message to Israel and the Gentiles.  An understanding of where on the map these 2 stories take place helps us understand their meaning.

F.      John 12:21 – John says Philip was from “Bethsaida in Galilee” again demonstrating his knowledge of the geography and knowing that it was a small town helps his readers locate it.  Greeks come up to Philip and ask to see Jesus.  Philip, being from Bethsaida, may have been more comfortable around Gentiles, having grown up in Bethsaida.

VIII.         Other biblical places and cities around the Sea of Galilee

A.     Mt Hermon

1.      There are two mountain ranges in Lebanon that are opposite each other.  Between these ranges in the Beqaa valley is the International Hwy or Conquerors Corridor. The ranges are known as the Lebanon range (west side) and Anti-Lebanon range (east side).

2.      Mt.Hermon is on the eastern range – the end of the Anti-Lebanon range.

3.      Mt Hermon is also called Mt Sirion (Sidonians), and also Mt.Senir (Amorites) (Dt 3:9)

a.       Senir – SOS 4:8 -lions and leopards on the mountain; the half tribe of Manasseh settled around the mount. I Chron 5:23.

b.      Sirion –

a.       Ps 29:6 – The strength and power of the Lord’s voice is illustrated by the Psalmist.  God’s voice makes the great mountains (Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon -Sirion) skip. The things we think are stable and set, God’s voice changes.

b.      Jer 18:14 (ESV) – snow stays on the mount – it is dependable.  However, God’s people are not. You can see the snow on that mountain from a distance.  You should be able to see it from Mt.Carmel, and Tel-Aviv. A visual reminder.



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