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Tabgha, Galilee

GALILEE, Sea of (See also wiki article Sea_of_galilee.)


l. Situation, etc. - The Sea of Galilee is an expansion of the Jordan, 13 miles long, about 8 miles in maximum breadth; its surface is 680 feet below that of the Mediterranean; its maximum depth is about 150 feet. In shape it is like a pear, the narrow end pointing southward. Like the Dead Sea, it is set deep among hills, which rise on the east side to a height of about 2000 feet. At the emergence of the Jordan, however, the Lake impinges on the plain of the Ghor.

2. Names. - The original name of the Sea seems to have been Chinnereth or Chinneroth. It takes its name from an old Canaanite city (Jos.11.2, 19.35, 1 K.15.20), which lay at Tell el 'Oreimeh above its north-western shore. By this name it is referred to in assigning the border of the Promised Land (Nu.34.11), in stating the boundary of the trans-Jordanic tribes (Dt.3.12, Jos.13.27), and in enumerating the kings conquered by Joshua (Jos.12.3). The Lake is referred to also by the name Gennesar in Josephus (always), and in 1 Mac.11.67 (AV). That is really the name of the plain stretching along the west side of the lake S. of Chinnereth. In the Gospels it is referred to under a variety of names: besides such general terms as 'the lake' (Lk.8.22 etc.), or 'the sea' (Jn.6.16), we find Lake of Gennesaret (only in Lk.5.1, the final et probably being an error). Sea of Tiberias (Jn.21.1, and also as an explanatory or alternative name in Jn.6.1), but most frequently Sea of Galilee. The modern name is Bahr Tabariyeh, 'Lake of Tiberias.'

3. Importance in NT times. - The Sea in the time of Jesus was surrounded by a number of important cities. Such were Tiberias, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Chorazin, and Magdala. The fishing industry was important, and where now but a few small boats are to be seen, there evidently were formerly numerous fishing vessels. Owing to the great height of the mountains surrounding the Lake, differences of temperature are produced which give rise to sudden and violent storms. Two such storms are mentioned in the Gospels - one in Mt.8.23, Mk.4.36, Lk.8.22, the other in Mt.14.22, Mk.6.45, Jn.6.16. [Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963 - R.A.S.M. - E.G.K.]