Jezreel Valley21—27twelve (continued)

The Sea of Galilee

JE Bradburn


The Sea of Galilee fills a shallow depression in the rift valley east of Lower Galilee. The Jordan River enters the sea from the northeast and exits to the southwest. The surface of the sea is 690 feet below sea level, and its depth lies 150 feet below that. The sea measures just 13 by 7 miles, which is more a lake than a sea, To give you some inclination of its size: the North Sea, to the east of U.K equals 570,000 km2 (220,000 square miles).

The Sea of Galilee is known by several names in the Bible:

The sea of Chinnereth,


Numbers 34:11 (KJV) “And the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall descend, and shall reach unto the side of the sea of Chinnereth eastward:”


Deuteronomy 3:17 (KJV) “The plain also, and Jordan, and the coast thereof, from Chinnereth even unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, under Ashdothpisgah eastward


Joshua 12:3; 13:27 (KJV)

“And from the plain to the sea of Chinneroth on the east, and unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea on the east, the way to Bethjeshimoth; and from the south, under Ashdothpisgah


The lake of Gennenesaret Luke 5:1 (KJV) “And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret


The sea of Tiberius John 6:1; 21:1 (KJV)

01 “After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias

21 “After these things Jesus shewed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed He Himself


The sea of Galilee Matthew;

04:18 (KJV) “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers

15:29 (KJV) “And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there


Mark 1:16 (KJV) “Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers


Mark 7:31 (KJV) “And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis


And simply the “sea” or “lake” Matthew 8:24 (KJV) “And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep


Some believe that the name Chinnereth, which is perhaps related to the Hebrew word for “harp,” is derived from the sea’s harp shape. More likely, the sea was simply named after the city of Chinnereth, located on its northwest shore during Old Testament times.


Joshua 19:35 (KJV) “And the fenced cities are Ziddim, Zer, and Hammath, Rakkath, and Chinnereth


Gennesaret is a form of Chinnereth. Today Israelis call the sea of Galilee “the Kinneret” The sea is enclosed by basalt hills that rise 1,300 feet above the surface of the water (approximately 600 feet above sea level). To the east and west, the scarp (steep cliff) of the rift valley presses close to the sea, while on the north, the remains of a huge flow of basalt (the Rosh Pinna sill) separates the sea form from the Huleh Basin. Three plains provide fertile fields for agriculture: the Plain of Bethsaida to the northeast where the Jordan enters the sea, the plain of Gennsenaret on the northwest, and a plain formed by the Jordan Valley to the south.

Matthew 14:34-36 (KJV)

34 “And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret

35 “And when the men of that place had knowledge of Him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto Him all that were diseased

36 “And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.””


John 5:1-16 (KJV)

1 “After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem

2 “Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches

3 “In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water

4 “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.”

5 “And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years

6 “When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He saith unto him, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’”

7 “The impotent man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me’.”

8 “Jesus saith unto him, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.’”

9 “And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath


10 “The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, “It is the Sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.’”

11 “He answered them, ‘He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.’”

12 “Then asked they him, ‘What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk.’”

13 “And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in that place

14 “Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him,’ Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.’”

15 “The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.’”

16 “And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day(Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes = Jewish priests)


The Sea of Galilee receives less rainfall than the surrounding hills, about 16 inches annually. Temperatures are moderate to hot, and the air is usually humid. Several hot mineral springs enter the Sea of Galilee from its shore and depth, a result of the gigantic rip of the surface of the earth that formed the rift valley. Fish tend to congregate around these springs in the winter time. Many fish are also found in the northeast, feeding on the orgaic matter deposited into the sea by the Jordan River, Fishing and agriculture are excellent, as the Gospel writers did attest.

  The New Testament mentions three kinds of fishing nets that were used in the Sea of Galilee.

A cast net was a circular net 25 feet in diameter with weighted sinkers around the edge; it was cast into shallow water by a fisherman standing near to the shore.


Mark 1:16—18 (KJV)

16 “Now as He walked by the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers

17 “And Jesus said unto them, ‘Come ye after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.’”

18 “And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed Him


The dragnet or seine-net was 800—900 feet long, 12—25 feet wide, and weighted along one edge. This net was unrolled by boat into a huge arc and stood upright in the water. It was then drawn ashore by fishermen standing at the water’s edge. Because the dragnet pulled everything within its arc to shore, Habakkuk 1:15 the fish it caught had to be sorted by commercial viability Matthew 13:47—48. 


Habakkuk 1:15 (KJV) “They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad


Matthew 13:47—48 (KJV)

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind

48 “Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away 


A trammel (a fishing net consisting of a fine net between two layers of coarse mesh) net consisted of a cross netting of three nets. Because fish easily caught their gills in its web, trammel nets had to be repaired often.


Matthew 1:19—20 (KJV)

19 “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily

20 “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary [Mariam] thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost  


A fishhook is mentioned only once in the Gospels:

Matthew 17:24—27 (KJV)

24 “And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, ‘Doth not your master pay tribute?’”

25 “He saith, ‘Yes’. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, ‘What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?’”

26 “Peter saith unto him, ‘Of strangers.’ Jesus saith unto him, ‘Then are the children free.’”

27 “Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for Me and thee


Everything a fisherman uses today, whether it be nets or hooks, is what was used in Jesus Christ’s day; more than 2000 years ago.  So why is it so hard to learn the truth? Answer: Because you are in the system 


Jesus’ ministry was focused on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. He made it His home in Capernaum and called His disciples from villages in the vicinity.


Matthew 4:12-17; 9:1 {KJV)

12 “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee

13 “And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim

14 “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying

15 “The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles

16 “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up

17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand


Matthew 9:1 (KJV “And He entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His own city 


At least three disciples, Philip, Peter, and Andrew hailed from Bethsaida. John 1:44 (KJV) “Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and PeterAlthough its exact location remains in doubt, Bethsaida was apparently either in the marshy delta of the Jordan (el-Araj) or on a higher mound slightly north (et-Tell). A third town visited often by Jesus, Chorazin, was located in the basalt hills (the Rosh Pinna sill) above Capernaum.


Matthew 11:21 (KJV) “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes


It was very probable in these hills that Jesus went in the early mornings to find “a deserted place” to pray.


Mark 1:35 (KJV) “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed


“Its nature is wonderful as well as its beauty. Its soil is so

fruitful that all sorts of trees can grow upon it, and the inhabitants

accordingly plant all sorts of trees there. for the temper of

the air is so well mixed that it agrees very well with all.

One may call this place the ambition of nature, where it forces those

plants that are naturally enemies to one another to agree together.

It supplies men with the principle fruits, with grapes and figs continually,

during ten months in the year and the rest of the fruit as it becomes

ripe together, through the whole year, for besides the good temperature

of the air, it is also watered from a most fertile spring.

The people of the country call it Capernaum”

(Josephus, Wars iii. 10—8).


The local building material around the Sea of Galilee is hard, black basaltic stone. Archaeological excavations have uncovered square blocks of houses (insulation) built of this stone in Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin, and other villages in the region. The rooms in these houses were small and dark, with low doors and narrow windows set high in the wall above. One such insula excavated in Capernaum is believed to have belonged to Peter, where Jesus  apparently made His home.


Mark 1:29—30 (KJV) 

29 “And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John

30 “But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell Him of her


The synagogue in Capernaum in Jesus’ day was also made of black basaltic stone .The white synagogue that dominates Capernaum today was built in a later century out of Cenomanian limestone brought from the hills of Lower Galilee.

Capernaum is often thought of as a sleepy fishing village, however, during the first century it had a vibrant, mixed economy. In addition to fishing and agriculture, archaeological evidence suggests that Capernaum was also a place where high quality agricultural implements were manufactured.


Mark 4:1—9 (KJV)

1 “And He began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto Him a great multitude, so that He entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land

2 “And He taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in His doctrine

3 “Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow (Those who gather).

4 “And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up

5 “And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth

6 “But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away

7 “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit

8 “And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred

9 “And He said unto them, ‘He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.’”


Many olive presses and grain made out of local basalt, a highly durable and abrasive rock, were found in excavations at Capernaum, more, in fact, than the local population would have been expected to use by themselves. Because Capernaum was on a trade route and was the first village that that travellers came to in Herod Antipas’ Galilee after crossing the Jordan river from the east, Rome made it a tax collection point.


Mark 2:14—15 (KJV)

14 “And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom [tax collector], and said unto him, ‘Follow Me. And he arose and followed Him.’”

15 “And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in His house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and His disciples: for there were many, and they followed Him


Jesus’ Motive and Purpose in Teaching in Parables.

Mark suggests that Jesus adopted the method of teaching by parables when the ministry in Galilee had been in progress for some time. He seems to associate it with the period when, partly owing to the suspicion of the religious leaders and partly owing to pressure of the crowds, Jesus began to withdraw from the cities and the synagogues and preach in the open air and in desert places.

In connection with the use of parables the evangelist cites the passage from Isaiah about the people seeing and not believing, hearing and not understanding, and seems to suggest the parables were intended to conceal the secret of the Kingdom from those who were outside. To enforce tax collection, a unit of Roman soldiers was also garrisoned in Capernaum.


Luke 7:2—5 (KJV)

2 “And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die

3 “And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal His servant

4 “And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him instantly, saying, ‘That he was worthy for whom he should do this

5 “For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue


Three separate political entities bordered the Sea of Galilee in the first century AD.

1.      Galilee proper, governed by Herod Antipas,

2.      Son of Herod the Great, was located west of the sea and Jordan River.

3.      The main city on the western Galilee shore was—and still is—Tiberius,

Founded by Antipas between AD 17 and 20 to honour the new Caesar in Rome. Tiberius is within sight of Capernaum and an easy two hour walk away, yet the Gospels fail to mention if Jesus ever went there. But:


John 6:23—24 (KJV)

23 “(Howbeit [nevertheless] there came other boats from Tiberius nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks :)”

24 “When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither His disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.”


The territory lying east of the Jordan River and northeast of the Sea of Galilee was governed by Herod Philip, another son of Herod the Great. Philip’s territory was divided into three expansive regions, Gaulanitus, Ituraea and Taconites.   


Luke 3: 1, 19 (KJV)

01 “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and    Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene.”

19 “But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done


Philip raised Bethsaida, his main city on the sea, to the status of a Greco-Roman polis, renaming it Julius after the daughter of Caesar Augustus. A confederation of ten Greco-Roman cities called the Decapolis lay south of Philip’s territory, stretching from the south-eastern shore of the sea deep into Transjordan. This gentile region was home to the Gergesene’s, where Jesus healed a man possessed by demos.


Mark 5:1—20 (KJV) 

01 “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes

02 “And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,”

03 “Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains

04 “Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him

05 “And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones

06 “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him

07 “And cried with a loud voice, and said, ‘What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure [make appeal] thee by God, that thou torment me not.’”

08 “For He said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit

09 “And He asked him, ‘What is thy name?’ And he answered, saying, ‘My name is Legion: for we are many.’”

10 “And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country

11 “Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding

12 “And all the devils besought Him, saying, ‘Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.’”

13 “And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand ;) and were choked in the sea.”

14 “And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done

15 “And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid

16 “And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine

17 “And they began to pray Him to depart out of their coasts

18 “And when He was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed Him that he might be with Him

19 “Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, ‘Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.’”

20 “And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel


One of the Decapolis cities, Hippus, sat on a prominent hill above the Sea of Galilee within sight of Capernaum. These various political regions in the New Testament period were closely connected by sea and land, and one other Genesis  


Here people with every competing religious and political ideology and agenda were crowded together under tropical heat and the ever watchful eye of Rome. In this pressure cooker setting Jesus chose to minister. Here he could touch the very human needs of influential people and commoners alike, of Jews and Gentiles. The Sea of Galilee was an ideal setting for the Gospel story, and the Future Kingdom. Jesus Christ placed Himself in the centre of all the forces competing for power and influence during His history of human beings; from the creation of Adam and Eve; the beginning of the Old Testament to the New Testament— The Messianic Age—to the Future Kingdom; over 6000 years ago; most of you have forgotten Jehovah and Elohim: but Jehovah and Elohim have not forgotten you.


Matthew 5:14 (KJV) “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid



“Light from the Ancient East…

Our Lord saith: Let not him who

Seeks . . . cease until he finds,

and when he finds he shall be

astonished; astonished he shall

reach the kingdom, and having

reached the kingdom he shall rest.”

Adolf Deissmann


Matt 22:1—7 (KJV)

01. “And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said

02. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son

03. “And sent forth his servants [prophets] to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come

04. “Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, ‘Tell them which are bidden, ‘Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.’”

05. “But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise

06. “And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them

07. “But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city


John 16:12—15

12. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now

13.  “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak

14. “He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you

15. “All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall shew it unto you


John 8:32 (KJV) “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free