Reference: Galilee, Sea Of
(Mt 4:18; 15:29), is mentioned in the Bible under three other names. (1.) In the Old Testament it is called the "sea of Chinnereth" (Nu 34:11; Jos 12:3; 13:27), as is supposed from its harp-like shape. (2). The "lake of Gennesareth" once by Luke (Lu 5:1), from the flat district lying on its west coast. (3.) John (Joh 6:1; 21:1) calls it the "sea of Tiberias" (q.v.). The modern Arabs retain this name, Bahr Tabariyeh.
This lake is 12 1/2 miles long, and from 4 to 7 1/2 broad. Its surface is 682 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. Its depth is from 80 to 160 feet. The Jordan enters it 10 1/2 miles below the southern extremity of the Huleh Lake, or about 26 1/2 miles from its source. In this distance of 26 1/2 miles there is a fall in the river of 1,682 feet, or of more than 60 feet to the mile. It is 27 miles east of the Mediterranean, and about 60 miles north-east of Jerusalem. It is of an oval shape, and abounds in fish.
Its present appearance is thus described: "The utter loneliness and absolute stillness of the scene are exceedingly impressive. It seems as if all nature had gone to rest, languishing under the scorching heat. How different it was in the days of our Lord! Then all was life and bustle along the shores; the cities and villages that thickly studded them resounded with the hum of a busy population; while from hill-side and corn-field came the cheerful cry of shepherd and ploughman. The lake, too, was dotted with dark fishing-boats and spangled with white sails. Now a mournful, solitary silence reigns over sea and shore. The cities are in ruins!"
This sea is chiefly of interest as associated with the public ministry of our Lord. Capernaum, "his own city" (Mt 9:1), stood on its shores. From among the fishermen who plied their calling on its waters he chose Peter and his brother Andrew, and James and John, to be disciples, and sent them forth to be "fishers of men" (Mt 4:18,22; Mr 1:16-20; Lu 5:1; 1-11). He stilled its tempest, saying to the storm that swept over it, "Peace, be still" (Mt 8:23-27; Mr 7:31-35); and here also he showed himself after his resurrection to his disciples (Joh 21).
The Sea of Galilee is indeed the cradle of the gospel. The subterranean fires of nature prepared a lake basin, through which a river afterwards ran, keeping its waters always fresh. In this basin a vast quantity of shell-fish swarmed, and multiplied to such an extent that they formed the food of an extraordinary profusion of fish. The great variety and abundance of the fish in the lake attracted to its shores a larger and more varied population than existed elsewhere in Palestine, whereby this secluded district was brought into contact with all parts of the world. And this large and varied population, with access to all nations and countries, attracted the Lord Jesus, and induced him to make this spot the centre of his public ministry.
Illustration: Sea of Galilee Illustration: Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee
(Mt 4:18; Mr 7:31; Joh 6:1). So called from its washing the E. side of Galilee. In Lu 5:1 "the sea of Gennesaret," called so from the fertile plain of Gennesurer at its N.W. angle, three and a half miles long by two and a half broad (Mt 14:34). In Old Testament "the sea of Chinnereth" or Cinneroth, from the town so named on its shore (Jos 19:35), of which Gennesaret is probably the corruption, though others derive it from gannah, a "garden," and Sarown, a plain between Tabor and the lake. "The sea of Tiberias" is another designation, from the city (Joh 6:1). All its names were drawn from places on the western side. Now Bahr Tubariyeh (Tiberius, S.W. of the lake). Close to it was "His own city" Capernaum (Mt 4:13). Nine cities stood on the shores of the lake, of which only two are now inhabited, namely, Magdala, consisting of a few mud huts, and Tiberias, sadly changed from its ancient prosperity.
Silence now reigns where formerly the din of industry was heard. On its shore Jesus called His first disciples (Mt 4:18; 9:9; Lu 5:1-11; Joh 1:43, etc.). The bed of the lake is but a lower section of the great Jordan valley. Its depression is 653 ft. below the level of the Mediterranean, according to Lt. Lynch. Its length is about 13 miles, its breadth is about five or six. The view from the Nazareth road to Tiberias is beautiful. The hills from the eastern side rise apparently out of the water with a uniform slope, to the height of 2,000 ft., destitute of verdure, and shut in the lake; while far to the N. is seen snowy Hermon. The eastern hills, which are flat along the summit, are the wall that supports the table land of Bashan; from which on the N. there is a gradual descent to the valley of the Jordan, and then a rise to a plateau skirting the mountains of upper Galilee.
The hills on the W., except at Khan Minyeh, where there is a small cliff, are recessed from the shore. On a western recess stands Tiberias. The whole basin betrays its volcanic origin, which also accounts for the warm spring at Tiberius The cliffs are hard porous basalt. The vegetation is tropical; the lotus thorn, palms, indigo, etc. The water is sweet, sparkling and transparent; the fish abundant as of old, many species being those of the Nile, the silurus, mugil, and sparers Galiloeus. Dr. Tristram says: "the shoals of fish Were marvelous, black masses of many hundred yards long, with the black fins projecting out of the water, as thickly as they could pack. There are the European loach, bethel, blenny and cyprinodont; the African chromis, hemichromis, and eellike clarias; and the Asiatic discognathus. The cyprinodonts are viviparous, and the sexual differences marked; they can live in cold water, or hot springs up to 90??, fresh, brackish, or briny water.
This marks a former connection between these waters and those of N.E. and S.E. Africa, the Nile, the Zambesi, and the great lakes in the interior. The papyrus also, no longer found in the Nile, is found on the shores of the sea of Galilee. As Asia, Africa, and Europe respectively were represented at Christ's cross by the Jews, Simon of Cyrene, and the Romans respectively, so the Asiatic, African, and European fish in the sea of Galilee represent the various races of mankind gathered by the spiritual fishermen into the one gospel net. Only one little boat represents the fleets of fishing vessels that once covered the lake. The fish are now taken with a hand net jerked round the fish by the fisher, usually naked, along the shore (Joh 21:7); or else crumbs of bread mixed with bichloride of mercury are scattered to poison the fish, and the floating dead bodies are picked up for the Tiberias market (Porter, Handbook, p. 432).
Sudden and violent storms agitate the waters, sweeping down the ravines and gorges converging to the head of the lake, from the vast naked plateau of the Jaulan and the Hauran and mount Hermon in the background. It was such a storm that Jesus stilled by a word, as He had a few hours before rebuked and cast out demons. Mr 4:39, "Peace, be still," Greek "Be silent, be muzzled"; addressing the sea and warring elements as rebel forces; compare Re 21:1.
The apostles were trying to reach Bethsaida on the western coast, when the gale from. the S.W. that brought vessels from Tiberias to the N.E. coast (Joh 6:23) delayed the vessel of the former, until at the fourth watch Jesus came walking over the tempest tossed waves; then followed Peter's temporary walking through faith and sinking through unbelief in the same waters, and his rescue by Jesus; then they immediately reach their desired haven for which they had set out the evening before (Mt 14:28-29,33; Joh 6:17,21; Mr 6:45).
So impressed were the disciples that "they worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God." Bethsaida Julias, the city of Andrew and Peter, lay on the E. bank of the Jordan where it enters the sea of Galilee on the N. Close by, and on the E. of the river and N.E. of the lake, stretched the "green grass" (Mr 6:39) plain of Batihah, the scene of feeding the 5,000. Gergesa (now Kersa) lay E. of the lake. The Jordan's outlet is at Kerak, the S.W. extremity of the lake. The lake, mirroring heaven in its union of rest and energy, represents Him who best combined the calm repose which reflected His Father's image with energetic labors for God and man.
GALILEE, SEA OF
1. Situation, etc.
This was situate about the centre of the district of Galilee on the east. The Jordan enters it on the north, and leaves it on the south. Its waters are about 630 feet below the level of the Mediterranean, and its depth about 156 feet. Its length is about thirteen miles, and its widest part about eight miles. On the east of it was the country of the Gergesenes and the Gadarenes. Chorazin was on its north; Capernaum on its N.W.; then, coming southward, was Bethsaida of Galilee, with the plain of Gennesaret (or Chinnereth) near; then Magdala, Dalmanutha and Tiberias on the west. These places being near accounts for the sea being called the LAKE OF GENNESARET and the SEA OF TIBERIAS and of CHINNERETH.
The Lord crossed the sea several times, and taught from a ship near the shore, and once He walked upon its waters. Storms often arise suddenly, as did the one when the Lord was asleep on a pillow. Mr 4:37-41; Lu 8:22-25.
Gal'ilee, Sea of.
So called from the province of Galilee, which bordered on the western side.
It was also called the "Sea of Tiberias," from the celebrated city of that name.
At its northwestern angle was a beautiful and fertile plain called "Gennesaret," and from that it derived the name of "Lake of Gennesaret."
It was called in the Old Testament "the Sea of Chinnereth" or "Cinneroth,"
from a town of that name which stood on or near its shore.
Its modern name is Bahr Tubariyeh. Most of our Lord's public life was spent in the environs of this sea. The surrounding region was then the most densely peopled in all Palestine. no less than nine very populous cities stood on the very shores of the lake. The Sea of Galilee is of an oval long and six broad. It is 60 miles northeast of Jerusalem and 27 east of the Mediterranean Sea. The river Jordan enters it at its northern end and passes out at its southern end. In fact the bed of the lake is just a lower section of the Great Jordan valley. Its more remarkable feature is its deep depression, being no less than 700 feet below the level of the ocean. The scenery is bleak and monotonous, being surrounded by a high and almost unbroken wall of hills, on account of which it is exposed to frequent sudden and violent storms. The great depression makes the climate of the shores almost tropical. This is very sensibly felt by the traveller in going down from the plains of Galilee. In summer the heat is intense, and even in early spring the air has something of an Egyptian balminess. The water of the lake is sweet, cool and transparent; and as the beach is everywhere pebbly is has a beautiful sparkling look. It abounds in fish now as in ancient times. There were large fisheries on the lake, and much commerce was carried on upon it.