11 Sites Every Evangelist Should Visit in Israel
Read about The Sea of Galilee, Capharnaum, Tabgha, Mount of Beatitudes, The Gates of Hell/Caesarea Philippi, Jordan River, En Gedi, Jericho Road, Jericho, Temple Mount, The Garden Tomb, Joppa & Caesarea and The Valley of Megiddo.
#travel #holyland #Israel
The Sea of Galilee
“And Jesus awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still” and the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”
The Sea of Galilee is in Israel. It is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake in the world (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake). The lake is also called Lake Tiberias, Kinneret, or Kinnereth. Over time, the name changed depending on the settlement on its shores.
Sea of Kinneret
The modern Hebrew name, Kinneret, comes from the Hebrew Bible where it appears as the “sea of Kinneret” in Numbers 34:11 and Joshua 13:27, spelled “Kinnerot” in Hebrew in Joshua 11:2. Kinneret is listed among the “fenced cities” in Joshua 19:35.
Lake of Gennesaret
In the Old and New Testament, the term “sea” is used with the exception of Luke, where it is called “the Lake of Gennesaret” (Luke 5:1).
Matthew 4: 13-14
“And leaving Nazareth, Jesus went and lived in Capernaum by the sea…”
Capernaum was a fishing village established in the time of the Hasmoneans. It is located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Archaeological excavations found two ancient synagogues built one over the other and a house turned into a church by the Byzantines. This house is believed to have been the home of Saint Peter.
Capernaum is mentioned in all four gospels (Matthew 4:13, 8:5, 11:23, 17:24, Mark 1:21, 2:1, 9:33, Luke 4:23, 31,7:1, 10:15, John 2:12, 4:46, 6:17, 24, 59). It is cited that it is the hometown of the tax collector Matthew, and not far from Bethsaida, the hometown of the apostles Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John.
Some scholars conclude that Mark 2:1 is evidence that Jesus may have owned a home in the town. It is more likely that he stayed in the house of one of his followers and spent time teaching and healing there. One Sabbath, Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum and healed a man who was possessed by an unclean spirit (Luke 4:31–36 and Mark 1:21–28).
This story is notable as the only one that is common between the gospels of Mark and Luke, but not contained in the Gospel of Matthew (see Synoptic Gospels for more literary comparison between the gospels).
Jesus healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever (Luke 4:38–39). According to Luke 7:1–10 and Matthew 8:5, this is the place where Jesus healed the servant of a Roman centurion who had asked for his help. Capernaum is also the location of the healing of the paralytic lowered by friends through the roof to reach Jesus, as reported in Mark 2:1–12 and Luke 5:17–26.
According to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus selected this town as the center of his public ministry in Galilee after he left the small mountainous hamlet of Nazareth (Matthew 4:12–17). He also formally cursed Capernaum, along with Bethsaida and Chorazin, saying “you will be thrown down to Hades!” (Matthew 11:23) because of their lack of faith in him as the Messiah.
“Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.” I”m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We”ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven”t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it and some bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.”
Tabgha is on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. It is traditionally accepted as the place of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:30–46) and the fourth resurrection appearance of Jesus (John 21:1–24) after His Crucifixion.
The mosaic of the fish and loaves is laid next to a large rock, which has caused some New Testament scholars to speculate that the builders of the original church believed that Jesus stood on this rock when he blessed the fish and loaves just before the feeding of the crowd who had come to hear him
Mount of Beatitudes
“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.”
The Mount of Beatitudes is a hill in northern Israel, in the Korazim Plateau. It is where Jesus is believed to have delivered the Sermon on the Mount.
The actual location of the Sermon on the Mount is not certain, but the present site (also known as Mount Eremos) has been commemorated for more than 1600 years. The site is very near Tabgha. Other suggested locations for the Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount have included the nearby Mount Arbel, or even the Horns of Hattin.
The Gates of Hell/Caesarea Philippi
Matthew 16: 13-17
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Caesarea Philippi is mentioned by name in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.
The city may appear in the Old Testament under the name Baal Gad (literally “Master Luck”, the name of a god of fortune who may later have been identified with Pan); Baal Gad is described as being “in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon.”
Matthew 3: 13 – 17
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased.”
The Jordan River or River Jordan is a 251-kilometer-long (156 mi) river in the Middle East that flows roughly north to south through the Sea of Galilee and on to the Dead Sea. Jordan and the Golan Heights border the river to the east, while the West Bank and Israel lie to its west. Both Jordan and the West Bank take their names from the river.
The river holds major significance in Judaism and Christianity since the Bible says that the Israelites crossed it into the Promised Land and that Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist in it.
1 Samuel 24: 1-22
“After Saul returned from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-Gedi…”
Ein Gedi literally “spring of the kid (young goat)” is an oasis and a nature reserve in Israel, located west of the Dead Sea, near Masada and the Qumran Caves.
In Joshua 15:62, Ein Gedi is enumerated among the wilderness cities of the Tribe of Judah in the desert of Betharaba, and in Ezekiel 47:10, it is prophesied that one day, its coastal location will make it into a fishing village, after the water of the Dead Sea has been made sweet:
Fishing nets will be spread from En-gedi to En-eglaim.
Fleeing from King Saul, David hides in the strongholds at Ein Gedi (1 Samuel 23:29 and 24:1–2) and Saul seeks him “even upon the most craggy rocks, which are accessible only to wild goats” (1 Samuel 24:2). Psalm 63, subtitled a Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah, has been associated with David’s sojourn in the desert of En-gedi.
In 2 Chronicles 20:2 Ein Gedi is identified with Hazazon-tamar, Hazezon Tamar, Hatzatzon-Tamar or Hazezontamar, on account of the palm groves which surrounded it where the Moabites and Ammonites gathered in order to fight Josaphat, king of Judah. In Genesis 14:7 Hazazon-tamar is mentioned as being an Amorite city, smitten by Chedorlaomer in his war against the cities of the plain.
The Song of Songs (Song of Solomon 1:14) speaks of the “vineyards of En Gedi”. The words of Ecclesiasticus 24:18, “I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades” may be understood as the palm trees of Ein Gedi.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers…”
Along the eastern edge of the Old City, the now named Jericho Road descends into the Kidron Valley, also known by its biblical name, the Valley of Josaphat. The valley is the site of many tombs: the Tomb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Pillar of Absalom, the Tomb of Benei Hezir, the Tomb of Zechariah, the tomb of Josaphat, and the tomb of Saint James.
Joshua 6: 2
“But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors.”
The Christian Gospels state that Jesus of Nazareth passed through Jericho where he healed blind beggars (Matthew 20:29) and inspired a local chief tax-collector named Zacchaeus to repent of his dishonest practices (Luke 19:1–10). The road between Jerusalem and Jericho is the setting for the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
John Wesley, in his New Testament Notes on this section of Luke’s Gospel, claimed that “about twelve thousand priests and Levites dwelt there, who all attended the service of the temple”.
Smith’s Bible Names Dictionary suggests that on the arrival of Jesus and his entourage, “Jericho was once more ‘a city of palms’ when our Lord visited it. Here he restored sight to the blind (Matthew 20:30; Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35). Here the descendant of Rahab did not disdain the hospitality of Zaccaeus the publican. Finally, between Jerusalem and Jericho was laid the scene of his story of the good Samaritan.”
“When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices…”
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, which regards it as the place where God’s divine presence is manifested more than in any other place, and is the place Jews turn towards during prayer. Due to its extreme sanctity, many Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally entering the area where the Holy of Holies stood since according to Rabbinical law, some aspect of the divine presence is still present at the site. It was from the Holy of Holies that the High Priest communicated directly with God.
According to the rabbinic sages whose debates produced the Talmud, it was from here the world expanded into its present form and where God gathered the dust used to create the first human, Adam. 2 Chronicles 3:1 refers to the Temple Mount in the time before the construction of the temple as Mount Moriah . The “land of Moriah” is the name given by Genesis to the location of Abraham’s binding of Isaac.
The Temple was of central importance in Jewish worship in the Tanakh (Old Testament). In the New Testament, Herod’s Temple was the site of several events in the life of Jesus, and Christian loyalty to the site as a focal point remained long after his death.
After the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, which came to be regarded by early Christians, as it was by Josephus and the sages of the Jerusalem Talmud, to be a divine act of punishment for the sins of the Jewish people, the Temple Mount lost its significance for Christian worship with the Christians considering it a fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy at, for example, Matthew 23:28 and 24:2. It was to this end, proof of a biblical prophecy fulfilled and of Christianity’s victory over Judaism with the New Covenant, that early Christian pilgrims also visited the site.
The Garden Tomb
“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.”
The Garden Tomb is a rock-cut tomb in Jerusalem, which was unearthed in 1867 and is considered by some Protestants to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus.
The re-use of old tombs was not an uncommon practice in ancient times, but this would contradict the biblical text that speaks of a new, not reused, a tomb made for himself by Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60, John 19:41). Also, the trough in front of the tomb and the nearby cistern, described by proponents of the Garden Tomb as part of the tomb’s sealing system and as the surrounding garden’s source of water, respectively, have both been archaeologically dated to the Crusader period (12th-13th century).
The organization maintaining the Garden Tomb refrains from claiming that this is the authentic tomb of Jesus while pointing out the similarities with the site described in the Bible, and the fact that the Garden Tomb better preserves its ancient outlook than the more traditional, but architecturally altered and time-damaged tomb from the mostly crowded Church of the Holy Sepulchre; for all of these reasons, they suggest that the Garden Tomb is more evocative of the events described in the Gospels.
Joppa & Caesarea
Act 10: 24
“Peter arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends…”
Joppa, the southern and oldest part of Tel Aviv–Yafo, is an ancient port city in Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical stories of Jonah, Solomon, and Saint Peter as well as the mythological story of Andromeda and Perseus, and later for its oranges.
The Valley of Megiddo
Revelation 16: 16-17
“And they assembled the kings in the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came from the throne in the temple, saying, “It is done!”
According to the Hebrew Bible, the valley was the scene of a victory by the Israelites, led by Gideon, against the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the Children of the East (Judges 6:3), but was later the location at which the Israelites, led by King Saul, were defeated by the Philistines (1 Samuel 29:1–29:6). The Philistine victory at Jezreel derives from the monarchial source, in contrast to the republican source, which places the Philistine victory against the Israelites at Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:4,1 Samuel 31:1–31:6).
According to 2 Kings 9:1–9:10, after Jehu kills King Jehoram, he confronts Jezebel in Jezreel and urges her eunuchs to kill Jezebel by throwing her out of a window. They comply, tossing her out the window and leaving her in the street to be eaten by dogs. Only Jezebel’s skull, feet, and hands remained.
In Christian eschatology, the part of the valley on which the Battle of Megiddo was fought is believed to be the destined site of the penultimate battle between good and evil (with a later, the final battle taking place 1,000 years later around Jerusalem), the place being known as Armageddon, a toponym derived from the Hebrew Har Megiddo, ‘Mount Megiddo’.