Glimpses of Israel - Tiberias

by Joy Hunting

On the western shore of Lake Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, and picturesque when viewed from the sea itself, is the modern and ancient city of Tiberias. It is also a picturesque sight when viewed from its surrounding Galilee hills.

The present-day town stretches up and up from sea level with modern housing and all the up-to-date facilities that go with progress, and the old rather struggles not to be swamped by new buildings and infrastructure.

The city itself is two thousand years old and it was named after Emperor Tiberias. Great rabbis have lived and studied here, and here are many of their revered tombs. Here also have been uncovered the remains of an ancient synagogue, and just recently what is thought to have been the luxurious villa of the nasi or president or patriarch of the Jewish people at the time.

Alongside modern development are the remains of the old black basalt ramparts built in 1740 by an Arab Sheikh who rebelled against the Turks and invited Jewish people to settle in the town. There are also black basalt Crusader walls dating from the twelfth century that have survived a later earthquake.

People come from all over the world to bathe in the therapeutic waters of the hot mineral springs at Tiberias; its climate is perfect for a winter visit, whereas its summers are pleasantly mild.

The Lord spoke against several other towns in which He ministered in the Sea of Galilee area because of their rejection of His teaching: "Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! ... And you Capernaum!" But He didn't curse Tiberias. Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum are now sites famous only for their ruins, and excavations, whereas Tiberias is a thriving city in a truly beautiful setting.