Located in northern Israel, the Sea of Galilee is surrounded by luscious agriculture, beautiful landscapes, and rich in archeological remains that have been valuable assets for understanding the ancient cultures and the history of that region. The sea is a large fresh-water lake that has a surface area of approximately 64 sq mi (166 km2), and is fed by the famous Jordan River. It is called by three other names, the sea of Tiberius, Lake of Gennesaret and more commonly known to the locals as Lake Kinneret.
Hundreds of tons of fish are caught from the lake each year, but the three types of fish favored by fishermen in these waters are sardines, barbels and tilapia or “musht.” Sardines are small fish and were likely the type of fish the boy brought to feed the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21). The Musht fish is known today as “St. Peter’s Fish.” It was named after the scripture found in Matthew 17:27, in which Peter hooked a fish with a coin in its mouth.
Our savior Yahshua spent most of His 3 ½ year ministry in the Galilee area and it was home to many of His disciples as well. He performed many miracles, including the miracle of walking on water (Matthew 14:22-23), and gave many powerful teachings to the people of that region.
In ancient times, there were as many as nine cities located around the shores of the Sea, with Capernaum and Tiberius being the most famous. Today, most of these cities are open to the public, featuring the archeological remains that have been excavated throughout the years. However, some of these sites are ran by Christian churches and may have a small entrance fee.
Travel Tip: Whenever there is a Christian church on these sites, they are known as “holy sites” and they have strict regulations on dress code. Some of these regulations include no tank tops, sleeveless shirts/blouses/dresses or shorts. It’s recommend that you dress modestly to avoid any complications.
They offer boat rides from several different tourism industries located on the shores. One of my favorite boat rides was with my congregation, on a worship boat that left from Nof Ginosar, a small kibbutz near Tiberius. The boat crew took us out to the middle of the sea and presented a demonstration on the famous story in John Chapter 21. It was where Yahshua’s disciples fished all night and came up empty handed until morning then Yahshua told them to throw the net on the right side of the boat. After that, the boat crew would start playing a few praise and worship songs as we would dance and sing our way back to the dock. The whole tour was about an hour long and a truly special moment commemorating the life and miracles of our wonderful Messiah.
They also have 2,000-year-old fishing boat on display known as, the “Jesus boat” (I prefer to call it the Yahshua boat) in the Yigal Alon Museum. The museum is located on the shore of the Galilee on Kibbutz Ginosar. It was found in 1986 by two brothers walking along the north-west shores and noticed ancient nails sticking out of the mud. The difficult process to rescue the boat from the mud took twelve days and nights for a professional team. Due to the delicate wood, the boat had to be wrapped in fiberglass and insulating foam. This was to prevent damage to the fragile state of the wood as it was transported to its new home. The boat is definitely one of kind because of how well preserved it is and the fact that it has been radiocarbon dated back to the first century AD. It’s also quite interesting to note that the boat is actually constructed out of 12 different types of wood. Could this boat have possibly belonged to one of the 12 disciples? There is no evidence pointing to this, but we know for a fact that this boat is constructed exactly like the days of Yahshua. This extraordinary find is definitely something you don’t want to miss, when visiting the Sea of Galilee.
The Calm Before the Storm
The Sea normally has a peaceful calm, but the waters can quickly change with high waves brought on by a violent storm and the winds funneling through the Galilee hill country stirring up the waters very quickly. If fishermen are caught on the lake during one of these storms it can be deadly. In March 1992, a storm on the Sea sent 10 feet high waves crashing down on the city of Tiberias causing significant damage. I have witnessed these storms getting so bad that the panels of the roofs would start flying off like leaves from a tree being tossed around in the wind. One year, it even brought one of our giant trees crashing down in the backyard, splitting it right down the middle. It really brought a new understanding to the story in Matthew 8:23-27, where Yahshua calmed the storm because the disciples were terrified while sailing across the sea.
Peace with the Morning Dew
One of my favorite things to do while living on the shores of the Galilee was to wake up early and watch the sunrise over the sea. It was such a special moment because I was able to experience the same thing that our Savior Yahshua and His disciples would have seen when they were alive on this earth. I remember feeling such peace and tranquility as I watched the sun slowly creeping over the hills of Gilead reflecting beautiful and vibrant colors upon the still and quiet waters of the sea. The cool, crisp breeze whisked across my face as the birds could be heard singing their morning praises to our amazing Creator in the heavens. It is truly a breath taking moment that is hard to put into words. For three years I was blessed to experience these special moments in my quiet time that left me with an experience I will truly never forget.
If you plan a trip to Israel, make sure this is one place you don’t miss on your itinerary. It will bring the scriptures in your bible to life, giving you much better insight and helping you understand your bible more. It’s like having a 3D bible at your fingertips, that you just can’t get enough of. This area is sincerely a special place and another one of my favorites in all of the Promised Land.
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