The weather is cooperating with us. The sun is shining brightly again and the cool breezes continue to moderate the heat. So we decided it was warm enough to take a dip in the Sea of Galilee. On our local map of Tiberius it shows “beaches” and gives their names—plenty of them on both sides of the lake. So we went exploring for the best beach to swim. The only problem is that “beaches” doesn’t mean swimming. It just seems to mean access to the water, because almost everywhere we had “access to the water” there were signs saying “swimming is forbidden.” But then we found out that “swimming is forbidden” doesn’t seem to mean that at all. It means “no lifeguard is present.” In other words, swim at your own risk. We finally found a place on the eastern shore at Ein Gev, directly across the lake from Tiberius, where people were actually in the water. By California standards these beaches are sadly lacking. No sand, but plenty of rocks and pebbles that hurt the feet. But this is the SEA OF GALILEE, OK? Christian tourists MUST swim in the Sea of Galilee. That is a no-brainer. Once you are in the water it is a delightful experience—cool but not cold. Fresh water and not salt water. Once we had “done our duty,” and continued on around the lake (it’s about 35 miles by car) we came back to Tiberius for lunch.
Yesterday we had lunch at a small lunch counter near our hotel run by a man named Esa (Arabic name of “Jesus”). We got into a conversation with him about Arabic food and asked him if he could make Shokshuka (see previous post about that dish) and he said if we came back the next day he would ask his wife to make some for us. So when we went there for lunch today he had it waiting for us. It’s difficult to describe it to you but it is accompanied by about eight or more little bowls of Arabic condiments that you can put on or in your pita bread and eat along with your Shokshuka (the main dish that is tomato based and can include meat such as chicken, beef or sausage). We have eaten it several times and really like it.
After lunch we drove up to the Northwest side of the lake to an area that is called in the Bible the Plain of Genessaret. Mountains surround the Sea of Galilee except at this three mile section that is flat and fertile. There is a Kibbutz here called Ginnosar (evidently related to the old name “Genessaret”) that has a museum that is popularly known as the Jesus Boat Museum. It seems that on the shore here they discovered an ancient fishing boat back in the 1980’s when the level of the lake had gone down during a drought. The local archaeological society began digging and they found the remains of an ancient fishing boat in the mud by the sea shore. After a lengthy period of careful digging in which they never let the boat dry out (it would have turned into powder if they had) they unearthed it and coated it and put it into a museum for all to see. It wasn’t a little row boat. It was originally over 30 feet long and big enough to hold 13 men (Jesus and his apostles) thus the name “Jesus boat.” They dated it through careful study and said it was made somewhere in the 1st Century B.C. to the 1st Century A.D. (when Jesus was present in this area). It is built mainly of oak but has 11 types of wood in its construction. They theorize that the man who owned it was poor enough to have to fix it and patch it up many times, thus the presence of so many different patch jobs involving other types of wood.
Tomorrow we will come back into this area to see places associated with the feeding of the 5,000, and the synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus taught while he was here.
Bud & Kathy
Bud and Kathy Downs are making another trip to the Lands of the Bible-- first Turkey and Greece (from May 11 to 22) and then to Israel (from May 22 to June 8). We invite you to join us through our travel blog. We intend to post regular updates and pictures of Bible sites.