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Sea of Galilee

Updated on November 25, 2015
"Sea of Galilee" at dawn from the balcony of hotel Solomon, Tiberius
"Sea of Galilee" at dawn from the balcony of hotel Solomon, Tiberius

It was always my food for thought why did Jesus choose Galilee (Capernaum) to start his ministry when he was brought up in Nazareth. I am now convinced after seeing Galilee with my own eyes there could have been no better place on earth than Galilee for launching a mission that changed the history of the mankind.

View of  "Sea of Galilee"
View of "Sea of Galilee"

Galilee is peaceful and tranquil; it attracted me the most because of its rustic nature existed until today. Even though there are several high mountains in the region including Mount Tabor and Mount Meron, the Sea of Galilee is surrounded by gentile lower hills. We visited the place in April; the climate during the time was very pleasant with a mischievous breeze blowing on to your face almost continuously. The sea was relatively calm, looking deep blue in color and making small ripples over the water. Strolling through the seashore and resting for a while on the rocks at the Primacy of St. Peter in the tranquil atmosphere transported me altogether to a new world of ecstasy.

 "Sea of Galilee" from Tiberius. View at dawn
"Sea of Galilee" from Tiberius. View at dawn

True, Sea of Galilee is not a sea; it is a lake at 209 meters below sea level and it is the lowest fresh water lake on earth. Jordan River, which begins with several streams of water from Mount Hermon in Lebanon, fills the Sea of Galilee and flows down to Dead Sea at the southern end of Israel.

"Sea of Galilee" viewed from the balcony of hotel Solomon in Tiberius at the dawn
"Sea of Galilee" viewed from the balcony of hotel Solomon in Tiberius at the dawn

North shore of the "Sea of Galilee" is important for a Christian visitor where Capernaum, Mount Beatitude, Tabgha and Primacy of St. Peter are located. The so called sea is also quoted in Bible as the Lake of Gennesaret or Sea of Tiberias, Ginnosar, Sea of Chinneroth etc.

Capernaum - entrance to the synagogue and the house of Peter.
Capernaum - entrance to the synagogue and the house of Peter.

Capernaum

Also known as Bethsaida was in existence long before Jesus Christ chose the place to establish his ministry here. It is located on the shore of Sea of Galilee and a huge population lived here once upon a time, most of them were engaged in fishing from "sea of Galilee"

Peter statue near the "house of Peter" - Capernaum
Peter statue near the "house of Peter" - Capernaum

According to Bible this is the place where Jesus healed the centurion’s son (Mathew 8:5), the noble man’s son (John 4: 46), Simon Peters mother in law (Mark 1:31) and the paralytic (Mathew 9:1), cast out unclean spirit (Mark 1:23).

Ruins of Jesus' Synagouge
Ruins of Jesus' Synagouge

Probably it is here Jesus raised Jairu’s daughter to life (Mark 5:22). While here in the Synagogue Jesus delivered the discourses on the bread of life (John 6). When Jesus finally departed Nazareth He spent most of his time here in Capernaum.

House of peter locates beneath the new church seen near the ruins of the old town ship
House of peter locates beneath the new church seen near the ruins of the old town ship

There could have been many other activities during a period of 3 years he lived here but I am quoting only few of the important incidents that I remember. Considering to reading of gospels Capernaum was a city of considerable importance.

Capernaum garden near house of Peter.
Capernaum garden near house of Peter.

This vast area of land is now owned by two churches: Franciscans controls the west with ruins of Jesus’ Synagogue and the house of Peter. Greek orthodox owns a large area with a church that has red domes. It is believed this was the large fisher men village as it remains closer to the sea, however the area still remains unexcavated.

Red domed white color Greek orthodox church on the bank of  "Sea of Galilee"
Red domed white color Greek orthodox church on the bank of "Sea of Galilee"

Mount Beatitude

According to the tradition, the Mount of Beatitudes is the place where Jesus gave his important sermon on the mountain (Mt 5, Lk 6:20) to the multitude that assembled to see and hear him. Sermon on the mount has become the focal point for understanding principles of Christianity.

Beatitude church is built at the downhill closer to the bank of "Sea of Galilee". Shot from the church side
Beatitude church is built at the downhill closer to the bank of "Sea of Galilee". Shot from the church side

A church, a monastery, a hostel a beautiful garden and a farm are located here. The place is about 175 meters above the sea of Galilee, the view from here towards the sea is spectacular and the atmosphere is calm and serene. We walked around the property and could see why Jesus would have chose this place to give his most inspiring message.

Church of Beatitude on the bank of Sea of Galilee.
Church of Beatitude on the bank of Sea of Galilee.

Byzantines built a church at the foot hills in close proximity to the sea and to the present church. Present church is a Franciscan catholic church built in 1930s. View of the Sea of Galilee from this vantage point is unique and breathtaking.

"Church of Beatitude" - Garden
"Church of Beatitude" - Garden
Roman amphitheater- similar to the Ariel view of "Sea of Galilee" the arena being the lake and the gallery seats being the terressed hills of Capernaum. Internet download
Roman amphitheater- similar to the Ariel view of "Sea of Galilee" the arena being the lake and the gallery seats being the terressed hills of Capernaum. Internet download

Whole of Capernaum is shaped like a bowl; the Sea of Galilee being in the center and surrounding lower hills gradually ascending up wards. This could have been a favorable phenomenon for the fishermen living on the banks of the sea to climb up the open hill and attend the sermons given by Jesus.

Jesus delivering the "Sermon on the mount" an internet download
Jesus delivering the "Sermon on the mount" an internet download
Father and daughter in the garden of  the "church of Beatitude"
Father and daughter in the garden of the "church of Beatitude"

My personal opinion upon seeing the area is the natural amphitheatrical effect existing in the area even today would have been enough for Jesus to audibly orate to the large number of people (4000 to 5000) with out any modern speaker system. It is true; if you moderately sound from the beatitude church you can here up to the bank of the sea which is over 100 meters below.

Anyway this is what the people have heard from Jesus as the sermon on the mount. (Mathew 5)

Sermon on the Mount

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, on my account.

Be glad and supremely joyful, for your reward in heaven is great, for in this same way people persecuted prophets who were before you.

Church of Multitude at Tabgha
Church of Multitude at Tabgha
Symbol of two fish and 4 loaf of bread at the church of multiplication in Tabgha
Symbol of two fish and 4 loaf of bread at the church of multiplication in Tabgha

Church of multitude at Tabgha

Tabgha is not far from Capernaum, it is the place where Jesus fed 5000 people with 2 fishes and 5 loaves of bread. The church located here is known as the church of multiplication, a simple beautiful church. One of the main highlights of the church are its restored 5th century mosaics. The symbol of the church is a Mosaic panel showing 2 fishes and 4 pieces of Arabic bread in a basket. The miracle of multiplication is written in the gospels.

Mensa Christi - the "table of Christ" in side the church Primacy of St. Peter
Mensa Christi - the "table of Christ" in side the church Primacy of St. Peter

Primacy of St. Peter

A rock projected inside the alter of the church of the Primacy of St. Peter is venerated as Mensa Christi, Latin for "table of Christ". It is believed this is the rock on which Jesus prepared the break fast for his Apostles on the third day after he had resurrected.

Another beautiful event we had was the ship cruise we took from this shore through the Sea of Galilee. The Cruise gave us ample chances to glance through the spectacular landscapes in the surroundings of the sea.

Our ship ready out there waiting for us
Our ship ready out there waiting for us

This area mostly used to be the fisher men villages. Fishing used to be the main occupation of the people here. Sardines and Tilapia are the two main fish found here, out of that Tilapia is said to be the Peter's fish.

Visiting "Sea of Galilee" was a dream come true experience. We continued our tour from here to another location and on the way we ate our lunch in the neighborhood having Peter's fish as our main menu.

Peters fish (Tilapia)
Peters fish (Tilapia)

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