Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee (photo circa 1900)

The Sea of Galilee lies on the ancient Via Maris which linked Egypt with the northern empires. The Greeks, Hasmoneans, and Romans founded flourishing towns and settlements here: Gadara, Hippos, Tiberias and others. The first-century historian Flavius Josephus was so impressed by the area that he wrote, "One may call this place the ambition of Nature." Josephus also reported a thriving fishing industry at this time, with 230 boats regularly working in the lake.

Much of the ministry of Jesus occurred on the shores of Lake Galilee. In those days, there was a continuous ribbon development of settlements and villages around the lake and plenty of trade and ferrying by boat. The gospels of Mark (1:14-20) and Matthew (4:18-22) describe how Jesus recruited four of his apostles from the shores of Lake Galilee; the fishermen Peter and his brother Andrew and the brothers John and James. One of Jesus' famous teaching episodes, the Sermon on the Mount, was given on a hill overlooking the lake. Many of his miracles were also recorded to occur here: his walking on water, calming a storm, feeding five thousand people (in Tabgha), and many others.

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