Day 3 of our group's Israel tour was a very full day.
Our aim for the day was to visit several of the locations around the Sea of Galilee where Jesus centered his ministry. We began with Capernaum, the city Jesus made his home for the 3 years of His public ministry (Matthew 4:13).
This is the synagogue from Jesus town. He would have regularly taught here. You can see that the lighter colored top section of rock from the 4th century sits on top of the darker foundation which is from Jesus' day:
Our next 2 stops were at the neighboring towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida. Jesus condemned these towns for their unbelief. His point was that even though the people of these towns had personally seen Jesus teach and perform miracles they had failed to repent of their sins by believing in Him. Instead, it seems they were in it for what Jesus could do for them. Read Jesus warning to them in Matthew 11:20-21.
Here our guide explains the importance of the Jewish Mikvah (ceremonial cleansing place), and its connection to the New Testament practice of baptism. The people of Israel were baptized over and over again to cleanse them in preparation of service to God, whereas believers in Christ are baptized one time to symbolize that Christ has forever cleansed them from all of their sins! This is the Mikvah in the city of Chorazin:
Here is the synagogue located in Chorazim, one of the nearby villages Jesus frequently traveled to, where He would have most certainly taught:
The city of Bethsaida was originally an ancient pagan city. In the 10th century BC David sought refuge from King Saul here. In Jesus' day, this town near the Sea of Galilee was home to brothers Peter and Andrew, and brothers James and John, all of whom Jesus called to be His followers. Notice this statue of Baal which is located here from centuries before Christ's time on earth:
In 1985 the water around the Sea of Galilee was at a very low level and some locals found a couple rusty old nails pressing up out of the mud around the shoreline. Upon further investigation they discovered where the nails were coming from- a first century wooden boat! This was the first discovery of such a vessel. This would have been the same kind of boat Jesus and the apostles used. Our next stop was to visit the museum where this boat is kept. Here is a picture of its remains:
Next we drove to the top Mount Arbel. There is no Biblical reference to this mountain, but from on top of it there is an ariel view of the entire Galilee region. Here is what you would see if you were standing on top of Mount Arbel:
Our final stop for the day was to the city of Magdala, the hometown of Mary of Magdalene. This is a very recent excavation and much is still being discovered. A synagogue has been discovered here and one of the unique features of this particular synagogue is the tile mosaic on the floor near the entrance. Jewish synagogues would not normally contain such decorative features, so this is a rare find! Here is a photo of part of the mosaic:
Another full day tomorrow to some of my favorite locations here near the Sea of Galilee!