Our virtual hike through Galilee has reached one of the most famous bodies of water in the whole world, the Sea of Galilee in northeastern Israel.
The Sea of Galilee is about 13 miles long (north to south) and about 8 miles wide with a circumference of about 33 miles, an area of 64 square miles, and a maximum depth of 141 ft. It’s the lowest freshwater body in the world at 693 below sea level. Only the saltwater Dead Sea at 1388 ft below sea level is lower.
The Sea of Galilee is partially fed by streams and underground springs, but its main source is the Jordan River on the north, and its main outflow is the Jordan River on the south.
The Sea of Galilee lies right on the ancient Via Maris trade route. It was an area of villages, farming, fishing, and trading at least as far back as Abraham. In Jesus’ day, at least 16 harbors existed on the Sea. Today the most important economic activity of the area is tourism.
The Sea of Galilee is the largest freshwater lake in Israel. It’s the source of half of the country’s drinking water. Its water is piped throughout Israel and Jordan. Beginning in 1964, disagreements between Israel and Jordan over access to water from the Sea of Galilee contributed to the tensions which escalated into the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel captured water sources for the Sea of Galilee in the Golan Heights east of the lake.
In New Testament days this body of water was also known as the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1; 21:1) after the important city of Tiberias on its western shore (pictured above). Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great made Tiberias his Galilean capital. Sea of Tiberias is the term used in 1st-century Roman texts and in the Jerusalem Talmud.
Luke refers to the Sea of Galilee as the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1) after the fertile Gennesaret plain below the Arbel Cliffs. The plain is about 5 miles long by 2 miles wide on the west shore of the lake.
The modern name Lake Kinneret comes from the Old Testament name Sea of Chinnereth (Numbers 34:11; Deut 3:17; Joshua 11:2; 13:27). This name probably originates from the Hebrew word kinnor meaning harp. From above, the shape of the lake looks like a harp with its flat eastern shore and curving western shore.
The lake’s harp-like shape is shown on the Kinneret Trail marker at right. The 37-mile Kinneret Trail, part of which is used by the Jesus Trail, circumnavigates the lake.
Much of the ministry of Jesus was focused around the Sea of Galilee. This is the subject of the next post in the Hike the Bible series.
Soli Deo Gloria.
The Hike the Bible series is currently covering points of interest along two hiking trails through Galilee, the 40-mile Jesus Trail and the 39-mile Gospel Trail. These two trails re-create possible routes Jesus likely traversed during His sojourns in Galilee.
This is the seventeenth installment in the Hike the Bible series reviewing major hiking trails in the Lands of the Bible.
Read the prequels:
1. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail (with video)
2. Hike the Bible – Gospel Trail (with video)
3. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail vs. Gospel Trail
4. Hike the Bible – Nazareth
5. Hike the Bible – Zippori
6. Hike the Bible – Mash’had
7. Hike the Bible – Cana (with video)
8. Hike the Bible – Roman Road
9. Hike the Bible – Via Maris
10. Hike the Bible – Horns of Hattin
11. Hike the Bible – Sermon on the Mount
12. Hike the Bible – Arbel Cliffs
13. Hike the Bible – Magdala (with video)
14. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene
15. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene, Lady or Tramp?
16. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene & the Resurrection
Read the sequel:
18. Hike the Bible – Jesus at the Sea of Galilee
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3)
Wednesday August 1, 2012 A.D.
Read my July 2012 newspaper column:
Friday the 13th
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)