Israel Trip Journal- Day 5 pt. 1: Tiberias, Mt of Beatitudes, Tabgha, Sea of Galilee
One of the oddest food choices was the fresh chopped vegetable bar. There was a chef who chopped raw onions, bell peppers and tomatoes into three large bowls.
My sister, daughter and I were wondering why she was chopping (and not cooking) these items for breakfast. Later, we saw a man with a plate heaped with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes-which he ate without any condiments as an entree. I’m sure it was a very healthy breakfast, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone eat such a dish before.
Mount of Beatitudes
Our first stop this morning was the Mount of Beatitudes. The Mount of Beatitudes is the place where by tradition Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7; Luke 6). The Sermon on the Mount focuses on 9 verses, each beginning with ‘blessed’- which in Latin is ‘beati.’ This is why it came to be called the Mount of Beatitudes.
Matthew 5:1 states that He went to a mountainside, while Luke describes it as a level place.
|View of Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes
(photo courtesy Paul S.)
Since there are many level places on the Galilean hillsides, this is not actually a discrepancy. At the beginning of Luke 7 it says “When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, He entered Capernaum,” this was in reference to the events of Luke 6. So, even though the exact place of Jesus’ teaching is not known, the place where we sat between Capernaum and Tabgha on the hillside is a reasonable choice.
From our vantage point, we could see the Sea of Galilee as Raouf spoke to us about the Sermon on the Mount. It was a perfect clear day in a beautifully tended estate owned by the Roman Catholic Franciscan Church.
When Raouf finished his talk, we were given some time to wander through the grounds and take pictures. At this point, many bus loads of tourists converged upon the place and this is when we realized why Raouf had been so determined to get us up and out so early every morning. We had become so accustomed to being the only tour group at each Biblical site that we had not realized that there were a multitude of other tourists out and about the countryside each day.
|One of the mosaics on the floor in the chapel- the artist was not
aware that none of the fish in the Sea of Galilee have two dorsal fins
Tabgha is traditionally the place where Jesus chose His twelve disciples, as detailed in the synoptic gospels: Mark 1:16-19; Matthew 4:18-22; Luke 5:1-11. As this place would have been a prime fishing spot, it makes sense that the events described could occur here. Tabgha is also by tradition the place where Jesus fed the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21).
In commemoration of this event, there is a restored Byzantine Church here called the Church of the Multiplicationof the Bread and theFishes. However, even though this is a viable location for the choosing of the twelve, the Byzantine pilgrims were incorrect in selecting this as the location of the multiplication. Luke 9:10-17 states that the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 occurred in the region of Bethsaida.
|Church of the Multiplication koi pond|
The church is lovely though, with a koi pond and well-preserved mosaic floors in places. One of the mosaics is of a bread-filled basket with a fish on either side. The fish depicted have two dorsal fins, however, since there are no fish in the Sea of Galilee that have two dorsal fins, the artist was obviously not a local fisherman.
Church of the Primacy
|Church of the Primacy|
After taking pictures and patronizing the gift shop, we were on to our next stop. We traveled a short distance to the Church of the Primacy– Mensa Christi – where Jesus asked Peter to feed His sheep (John 21).
|“Feed My Sheep”- courtesy Paul S.|
Further, Protestants believe that the Matthew passage in the context of the location of the conversation is the key to the real meaning of Jesus’ statement: “and upon this rock I will build my church.” I will go into more detail about that in my Day 5 pt. 2 post under ‘Gates of Hades.’
The Church of the Primacy is a basaltic structure erected in 1933 over the ruins of a 4th century chapel. There is a large flat rock in the chapel in front of the alter called Mensa Christi, the traditional location of where Jesus prepared the disciples’ breakfast.
There are covered prayer pavilions on the northwest side of the church. Raouf had two of the teen boys read from the scripture and then he spoke to us about the significance of this place. After we had prayed, we were released to walk about the grounds and go down to the seashore for pictures.
Sea of Galilee
By now, more tourists were arriving and we headed out to our next destination. We arrived at Kibbutz Ginosar for a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee! Kibbutz Ginosar or Gennesaret is not far from Kibbutz Kinnereth or Kinneret (the kibbutz that operates the Yardenit Baptismal site mentioned in my Day 4 post).
|The Sea of Galilee seen from the deck of our boat|
The name Gennesaret may seem familiar to anyone who has studied Jesus’ life. In Matthew 14:34, and Mark 6:53 Jesus had just calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, and then they crossed over to Gennesaret. In Luke 5:1-11, the Lake of Gennesaret is mentioned in Luke’s account of the calling of the twelve disciples.
|Enjoying Lake Gennesaret from the bow of the boat|
The Sea of Galilee also called Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret or Lake Tiberias, is the largest freshwater lake in Israel. It is the lowest freshwater lake in the world (702 ft below sea level) and the second lowest lake in the world–the Dead Sea is lower. It is fed mostly by the Jordan River which runs in at the northern end and out at the southern end.
Once on shore, we walked over to the Kibbutz Ginosar Museum to see the “Jesus Boat.” Ginosar is the site of a great discovery– a 2,000 year old fishing boat was found in the mud. During a severe drought in 1986, the water level in the Sea of Galilee dropped low enough to reveal the frame of an ancient fishing boat.
A massive effort to ‘rescue’ the ancient boat from the mire was undertaken. The boat was so waterlogged, archaeologists had to devise a way to raise the fragile craft from the muck without damaging it.
|Restored 1st century fishing boat|
The solution was to coat the vessel with a polyurethane manufactured in Galveston, Texas by the plant where our own tour leader, Jim worked for 20 years. Once covered with this special plastic, the area around the boat could be flooded with water and the vessel would float up out of the sludge.
|Close up view of the ‘Jesus Boat’|
This monumental rescue effort took 12 days and nights, but they were successful in preventing damage to the vessel. The boat had to be submerged in a chemical bath for 7 years before it was ready to be displayed at the kibbutz’s museum.
We had quite a bit of down time here, so after lunch we (my sister, daughter and I) sat outside warming ourselves in the sun. From time to time small groups of teenaged girls and boys with guns and splattered in mud would pass us on their way to the bathrooms and cafe. They looked as if they had been doing military maneuvers.
As military service is mandated by law, all Israeli teens have to serve 3 years (2 for most girls) in the military when they turn 18. We found it amusing, that some of the girls were still quite ‘girly’ despite the uniforms, guns and mud. Of course, with a conscripted military, the girly ones have no choice about serving. I was struck that they were obviously the same age as my daughter and her friends. Although I understand why this is necessitated here, I felt thankful that I live in a country without a mandatory draft for our teenaged daugters.
Next post: Day 5 pt. 2:Caesarea Philippi & The Galilee