"Twelve Square Miles of Clay"

With just a 12 mile piece of clay.

Gene McDaniel’s has a catchy little song about what God can do for man, ”with just 100 lbs of clay.” It reminds me of what God could do for us all through the life of Jesus “with just 12 square miles of clay” – to be exact - the area of Jesus’ ministry on the plains of Gennesaret on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  In this very small piece of land, the majority of Jesus’ ministry unfolded.  Some estimates are 85%.  This without social media, news coverage, tablets or texting and with very limited communication available (walking and word of mouth), and yet, what unfolded on this piece of land, nonetheless, forever changed the world.

Sea of Galilee.jpg

The number of events and places in these few square miles is remarkable and includes part of the route from Nazareth through the valley of the winds (or doves) passing below the cliffs of Mount Arbel on the way to Capernaum; Magdala, home of Mary Magdalene; Bethsaida, home of the fishermen James and John; Tabgha, the site of the feeding of the multitude with the five loaves and two fish; the town of Korazim; the Mount of Beatitudes; the resurrection breakfast beach and many other significant places.  It is in this relatively small geographic area that the disciples were called, many healings took place, troubling spirits cast out, memorable parables taught, the revered law correctly interpreted, hypocrisy and shallow religiosity exposed, and where the Lord sought strength and solace from the calm of the Galilean hills above.


Magdala, meaning a watch tower, is a fishing village that was the home of Mary Magdalene and has an outstanding excavation of a synagogue where it seems certain that Jesus attended and taught.  Our EO visitors often return claiming this to be the highlight of their touring day in the Galilee, rivaling even the “Jesus boat” ride.

Capernaum, known as the “town of Jesus”, is where the Lord set up his headquarters at the home of Peter’s mother-in-law. The site of yet another ancient synagogue and a clear example of kataluma = how families added rooms around a common courtyard giving insight into Jesus’ words, “In my Fathers house many kataluma - rooms” (sometimes translated with the misleading word mansions).

The Chapel on the hill of the Mount of Beatitudes is octagonal – one side for each of the eight Beatitudes.  The prescription for happiness is set in large tablets leading to the Chapel and the Beatitudes themselves are followed by well known leaders, like Elias Chacour, as a trustworthy daily guide leading to a blessed and rewarding spiritual life.

Mount Arbel, though below sea level, still towers over the plains of Gennesaret with a magnificent view of the area of Jesus’ ministry and the northern vista of the Sea of Galilee.  Another highlight of our EO Guests is to walk part of the pathway below glancing up at the caves so filled with history, the path Jesus used on his way from Nazareth to Capernaum.

So much to see and so much inspiration abounds in just “12 square miles of clay.”  Truly amazing.


Dr. Lee van Rensburg

EO Hospitality Staff

Tiberius, Sea of Galilee.