Gospel Postcard: The Sea of Galilee’s Beauty

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Jesus spent much of his ministry in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee. It was to the residents of the towns and villages bordering the lake that Jesus first preached, and he called his disciples from among the lake’s fishermen.

Perhaps Jesus left his hometown of Nazareth and went down to the Sea of Galilee because of its natural beauty. As the rabbis said: “The Lord has created seven seas, but the Sea of Galilee is his delight.” To this day the area is certainly one of the most beautiful in Israel.

The sun sets over the Sea of Galilee. Photograph by Todd Bolen. Photo © BiblePlaces.com
The sun sets over the Sea of Galilee. Photograph by Todd Bolen. Photo © BiblePlaces.com

As you follow the road Jesus must have traveled between Nazareth and Capernaum, you see the grey limestone descending from the ranges of Lower Galilee to a line of cliffs overlooking the sea. Cool breezes off the Mediterranean sweep through the open valleys and down into the sea basin, colliding with the hot westward winds off the Trans-Jordan Desert. Thus, even though the Sea of Galilee is a small inland lake, it is prone to sudden violent storms.

The steepest hills along the Sea of Galilee are on the eastern side of the lake near Kursi. Photograph by Todd Bolen. Photo © BiblePlaces.com
The steepest hills along the Sea of Galilee are on the eastern side of the lake near Kursi. Photograph by Todd Bolen. Photo © BiblePlaces.com

Jesus spent much of his ministry in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee. It was to the residents of the towns and villages bordering the lake that Jesus first preached, and he called his disciples from among the lake’s fishermen. There were dozens of towns and villages around the lake in the time of Jesus, so he would have had little difficulty in finding an audience here.

You can still see remnants of ancient houses, synagogues, wharfs and bathhouses. Sitting on the shore of the lake today, it is not difficult to imagine that earlier, more simple life of fields and roads and boats which is reflected in the Gospels.

The limestone cliffs of Arbel loom over the traveler coming from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee. Photograph by Todd Bolen. Photo © BiblePlaces.com
The limestone cliffs of Arbel loom over the traveler coming from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee. Photograph by Todd Bolen. Photo © BiblePlaces.com
This article originally appeared in issue 26 of the Jerusalem Perspective magazine. Click on the image above to view a PDF of the original magazine article.

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  • Halvor Ronning

    Halvor Ronning

    Halvor Ronning (B.A., St. Olaf Lutheran College; B.D., Lutheran Theological Seminary; M.A., Yale University) is a founding member and past director of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research. An officially licensed Israeli tour guide, he has lived in Israel for over fifty years. Although born…
    [Read more about author]

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