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Tiberias, so named to honor the second Emperor of Rome, is situated on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, 650 ft below Mediterranean sea level. Seems Jesus and his disciples chose not to enter this city because it had been build over some graves and a good Jewish person would not want to walk over a grave and become ceremonially unclean. However it is likely that the fishermen brought their boats to the shores of Tiberias and sold their fish from off their boats - salted fish from Sea of Galilee was a known delicacy in Rome.
After the Fall of Jerusalem in CE 70 and the prohibition by Hadrian in CE 132 for Jews to live in Jerusalem, renaming the holy city Amelia Capitoline, there was a migration north to Safed, Tiberias and Sepphoris. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (2nd CE) is credited with cleaning Tiberias by strewing lupine seeds (a legume) which would not flower over a tomb and so being identified the bones could be relocated and the city cleansed.
Tiberias also has a monument to the great philosophical Rabbi Maimonides who taught the oft quoted “Ladder of Charity” (lowest rung giving only when asked, and then ascending giving before being asked, giving generously, giving to those you know, giving without knowing who receives etc. all the way to the top of the ladder).
An interesting road sign in Tiberias points to the Switzerland Forrest. When the Ottomans ruled in Palestine they put a tax on trees - so people chopped down their trees rather than pay a tax. Erosion followed, especially above Tiberias, and in 1934 a huge landslide came careering down the hill and enveloped Tiberias taking 24 lives. Engineers and foresters later came from Switzerland and replanted trees - hence the name Little Switzerland now with a panoramic drive along the brow of the hill from Poriyya to Tiberias.
Mineral hot springs abound in the area, (the best known today is Hamat Tevera), and were visited for their healing properties for skin ailments - and also pleasant therapeutic relaxation. This helps explain why so many sick people seemed always to be around Jesus - they came for the curative
properties of the mineral waters and heard that Jesus was healing people nearby.
Tiberias remains one of the four Holy Cities - Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and our EO guests normally stay in this city when visiting the Galilee, often at a downtown hotel, appropriately named, Caesars!
*Dr. Lee van Rensburg*
*Sea of Galilee, Tiberias*
Without a doubt, one of the most enchanting and meaningful places to visit on a trip to the Holy Land is the Sea of Galilee.
This majestic 13 mile stretch of fresh water, fed by the Jordan River on the north end (near Bethsaida, house of fish) from snow melting on Mount Hermon, gives its life giving water back to the River Jordan on the south end where it exits, appropriately at the Yardenit baptismal center. The Sea of Galilee has great appeal to the pilgrim because almost 85% of Jesus’ ministry took place on or around its shores.
From the calling of the fishermen disciples to leave their nets and become “fishers of men”, until the early morning resurrection appearance around a breakfast fire where still today a rock, that could have been used as a table to serve the grilled fish (Mesa Christi), can be seen in the chapel.
Add to this the stilling of the storm, walking on the water, miraculous catch of fish, Peter’s cry for help while walking on these waters toward the Lord, the crossing over to the other side, the coin found in the fishes mouth used to pay the local taxes and so much more. Coupled with this is the opportunity to board a wooden “Jesus boat” and push off from the shore and embrace a time of devotion, singing, scripture reading and meditative prayer while taking in the panorama of the 12 square miles where Jesus ministry unfolded on the plains of Gennesaret is hard to equal. Memorable and indelible. On a clear day one can marvel at the imposing view of 10,000 ft Mount Hermon rising to the north.
The Sea of Galilee is something of a misnomer, the word for sea, being a body of water, was used instead of Lake - more correctly the name should be Lake Kinneret meaning “a harp,” which is the shape when viewed from above and reminiscent of the melodic waves lapping on the shores. The Gospels also refer to Lake Kinneret as the Sea of Galilee, The Sea of Tiberias, Lake Gennesaret - and also known the Syrian Sea. However, Sea of Galilee has remained the overall favorite and I believe, will always remain so.
Dr. Lee van Rensburg
Sea of Galilee, Tiberias.
A guest says it's very powerful to see the scripture come to life!
A guest says her trip has been incredible including being able to see and touch what Jesus touched!