Glimpses of Israel - Galilee

by Joseph Hunting

Israel 's sages have said "God made the seven seas, but the Sea of Galilee is His delight" . This beautiful inland sea has several names dating from Bible times. It was known to the Canaanites and the early Israelites as the Sea of Kinnereth. Later it became known as the Lake of Gennesaret, the Sea of Tiberias, and in the New Testament it is frequently called the Sea of Galilee.

The Sea of Galilee is shaped like an ancient harp known as the 'kinnor' from which it probably derived its ancient name. At its northern end the river Jordan flows peacefully into it and continues its way to the Dead Sea from its southern end. Whilst Mount Hermon and the nearer highlands of Safad are snow-clad during Israel's brief winter, the climate surrounding the Sea of Galilee is mild due to its being nearly 1,000 feet below sea level.

In Bible times there were several towns that no longer exist surrounding the lake. Among them were Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin, Magdala and Gennesaret. Apart from the ruins of Chorazin and Capernaum the only link with New Testament times and today is the thriving town of Tiberias.

Among the modern thriving communities that now dot the shores of the Sea of Galilee are Ein Gev, which nestles under the New Testament town of Hyppos; Degania Aleph and Degania Bet, which boast the honour of being the earliest of the kibbutzim in the area; and Kibbutz Ginnosar which is located adjacent to the New Testament town of Magdala.

Whilst progress and its race to catch up with a fast-moving world have changed the face of much of ancient Israel, the Sea of Galilee retains its peaceful charm. One can walk along its shores and retrace the steps of the Messiah and those rugged Galilean fishermen He chose as His disciples. The gentle rolling hills that surround its shores have also resounded to the clash of swords and chariots of Canaanites, Philistines, Israelites and Crusaders, and in more recent times, the crash of Syrian artillery. But today all is quiet and one does not find it hard to agree that this is one of the most enchantingly beautiful spots in the Land the Eternal is pleased to call "the glory of all lands".