Falling Into The Bible, Part 5: The Sea of Galilee
- Wednesday, October 23, 2002
I thought I would never see a more beautiful body of water than that of the dark blue Mediterranean Sea. That is, until the following day when we arrived at our hotel in Tiberius, located on the shore of Galilee.
As I stood on my fourth floor balcony, overlooking the place where Jesus had once walked, and had called fishermen to follow Him, and had slept exhausted in a boat during a raging storm -- I found myself completely captivated by this large body of water that is more lake than sea and more history than mere landmark.
It was our second night in Israel and my body was totally out of whack. We'd landed at five the afternoon before with a firm word, "Don't take a nap." We had dinner that evening, then went back to our Tel Aviv hotel, where I'd slept like Adam undergoing Divine Surgery.
But Night Two and I was clueless as to what time it really was. Two hours into what became a nap and I was wide-awake. There was little on television (at least, in English) and so, with nothing else to do, I opened the sliding glass doors to the balcony, made myself comfortable with my Bible and my yellowed copy of God Calling, and settled in for some one-on-one time with God.
As I looked up from my reading I couldn't help but notice the dark outline of the Golan Heights rising above the water. I thought a lot about David and the words he penned about the hillsides and skies of Israel. I stood and leaned over the balcony, studying the shoreline, wondering if this could have been the place where Jesus first saw Peter and Andrew...James and John. "Follow me," He said. And just like that they went.
The sun began to rise, as majestic a view as anything I'd ever seen growing up on the coast of Georgia. I flipped to Psalm 19:5 in my Bible and read out loud, "In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course."
For the most part, the Sea of Galilee (also known as the Sea of Chinnereth in Numbers and Joshua, Lake of Gennesareth in Luke, and the Sea of Tiberius in John) is a calm, "harp shaped" (Chinnereth, in Hebrew, mean harp) body of fresh water that is no more than 13 miles wide and 7 miles long. The Jordan River literally runs right through it, entering in the north and exiting in the south as it makes its way toward the Dead Sea.
Because it appears to sit in a bowl or basin, the calm waters can be whipped to a frenzy by winds as they come through the mountains that surround it. These waters are chock-full of fish and, in the days of Jesus, the cities and area that surrounded it were densely populated. Most of Jesus' ministry took place in the region known as Galilee, near the Sea, and among the people who spoke in a rough and guttural tongue and who-according to Josephus-inhabited 204 cities and villages, the smallest of which held 15,000 citizens.
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