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TIBERIAS - A town built by Herod (AD 16-22) on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee (called the 'Sea of Tiberias' in Jn.6.1, 21.1, and in modern Arabic), and named in honour of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Allegedly it was erected over the site of an ancient graveyard (Jos. Ant. xviii. ii. 3 ). This made it an unclean place to the Jews, and Herod was obliged to use force in order to obtain settlers. It was designed entirely on Greek models, and the fact that it was in spirit and civilization entirely foreign is perhaps the reason why it is hardly alluded to in the Gospels - the sole reference being Jn.6.23. There is no evidence that it was ever visited by Jesus. The city surrendered to Vespasian and by him was restored to Agrippa. After the fall of Jerusalem many of the Jews took up their abode in Tiberias, and by a strange reversal of fate this unclean city became a most important centre of Rabbinic learning. Here, late in the 2nd cent., lived Judah the Prince (Nasi) or the Holy, editor of Mishnah. Here the 'Jerusalem (i.e. Palestinian) Talmud' was compiled. Here the Massoretic vocalization of the Hebrew Scriptures was developed. In the neighbourhood are the tombs of Akiba and of Maimonides. Hadrian built himself a temple here, which is probably portrayed on coins of Tiberias of AD 119-120.
Constantine built a church and established a bishopric at Tiberias, but Christianity never flourished there. The Arabs seized it in AD 637; the Crusaders lost it to Saladin in 1187. The city was almost destroyed by a great earthquake in 1837. The principal objects of interest are the ruins of a large castle (possibly Herodian), a very ancient synagogue, and - half an hour's journey to the S. - the hot springs of Emmaus (the Hammath of Jos.19.35, not to be confused with Hamath-Gader, mentioned by Josephus and Pliny, at the railroad crossing over the Yarmuk river). Tiberias has a population of about 16,000. For the 'Sea of Tiberias,' see GALILEE [SEA of]. [Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963 - R.A.S.M. - E.G.K.]
TIBERIUS, whose designation as Emperor was Tiberius Caesar Augustus, was the son of Tiberius Claudius Nero (a Roman noble) and Livia whose second husband was the Emperor Augustus. He was born 42 BC and died AD 37. Augustus, as he grew old, appointed in succession four of his relatives as co-regents, or marked them out as his intended successors. It was clear that he did not desire the succession of his stepson Tiberius, who was reserved, morose, and unlovable. The successive deaths of his nominees compelled him to fall back upon Tiberius, who in AD 13 was made co-emperor. A year later he succeeded to the purple. The 'fifteenth year' in Lk.3.1 may be counted from the first of these dates, but more probably from the second, thus meaning AD 28-29. Tiberius was an able general and a competent Emperor, but the unhappy experiences of his early life made him suspicious and timorous, and he put many of his rivals or supposed rivals to death. In his later years he was much under the influence of a villainous schemer Sejanus. He spent these years in retirement at Capri. [Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963 - A.So. - E.R.H.]