Israel Trip – Day 05 – November 10 – Thursday

As I’m typing this, it is hard to think that it is Thursday already.  Things have been so full and jam packed that we are unaware of what day of the week it is.

Our morning began with breakfast as Nof Ginosaur, the kibbutz/hotel that we’ve been at the last couple of days.  Again a full layout of scrumptious foods to fill you up.

Today is the day that we visit all the sites around the Sea of Galilee.  But instead of getting on the bus, we simply walked toward the lake where a museum sits next our kibbutz.  Its there that the “Jesus Boat” is on display.  Discovered in the mud during a drought year by a couple of fishermen brothers, a boat that dates back to the time of Jesus.  It’s about thirty feet long, and the process by which it was recovered from the mud and kept from crumbling is quite amazing.  It’s the kind of boat that Jesus and His disciples would have used to cross the Sea of Galilee, the type of boat used by fishermen like Peter, James, and John.  Google it and you’ll learn the story of the “Jesus Boat”.  The museum also has a pretty nifty souvenir shop, so a few of us did our best to help the Israeli economy.

On the bus, our next stop was at the Mount of Beatitudes, a place where some think that Jesus might have sat with the multitudes and taught (see Matt. 5-7).  There’s a big Catholic church at the site – you’ve seen it in the Israeli tourism commercials.  One of the things that caught our attention is that there are a LOT of people visiting Israel this year.  We’ve never seen so many busses of people in our lives.  The crowds are like a busy day at Disneyland!  After going through the church, we hiked down the hillside.  Or was that up the hillside?  Actually, we got part of the way down before we realized that we had made a wrong turn, then had to hike back up the hill and then down the right path.  But it all was good – we got lots of exercise and got to surround ourselves with the beauty of Galilee.

At the bottom of the hill is the area known as Tabgha, thought to be an ancient fishing spot, and possibly the place where Jesus and the disciples had breakfast on the beach and Jesus told Peter to “feed My sheep”.  We went into the little Catholic church there, and sang some songs acapella – there were great acoustics in the place.  Everyone in the room joined with us – it seems that Christians from all around the world know Chris Tomlin songs too (we sang “How Great Is Our God” among others).  We also visited another church next door to see a famous mosaic tiled floor depiction of the multiplication of the fish and loaves.

Our next stop was Capernaum, just up the road.  This is the city known as a sort of “headquarters” for Jesus when He was up north in the Galilee area.

All sorts of cool stuff to see in Capernaum including ancient oil presses, small family homes, a pretty substantial synagogue, and a house we think might have been Peter’s house.  The Catholic Church has built a big structure over Peter’s house – it kind of looks like a space ship.

From Capernaum, we boarded the bus and headed to En Gev, the kibbutz where we would eat lunch.  This is the word famous “St. Peter’s Fish Lunch”, and the kibbutz must serve thousands every day.  And they do a great job at it.  The “fish” is tilapia, and it is thought that this was the kind of fish Peter caught that had a coin in its mouth – you know, it’s in the Bible somewhere.  Anyway, we ate Tilapia, pita bread, humus, and strawberry frozen something.  Delicious!!!

After lunch we headed up the east side of the Sea of Galilee to the site known as “Kursi”.  This is the location thought to be where Jesus cast the demons out of the man and they went into a herd of pigs and well … I guess you could say that the pigs flew … off the cliff.  The ruins of a Byzantine church are at the site.

Our last stop before dinner was at Bethsaida.  This was a new one for me.  In some of my commentaries on the Bible, the “scholars” say that we don’t know where Bethsaida was.  Well, now we know better.  They’ve discovered the ancient city where Peter was from and where Jesus did a few miracles.  It’s in the process of being excavated and more is being uncovered each year.  Now we know that while the city was known as Bethsaida in Jesus day, that an earlier city was also at the site, the city known as Geshur, the city where David married a gal and fathered Absalom.  Geshur was destroyed by the Assyrians in the 722BC invasion, but by Jesus’ day it had been rebuilt as Bethsaida.  It was a city with walls and large houses – at least that’s what has been uncovered so far.

We’re now getting ready for dinner and then tonight we’re going out on the Sea of Galilee for a worship service on the boat.  More tomorrow …