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Sea of Galilee

site of a Bibilical miracle

The Sea of Galilee lies in the Jordan Plain of northern Israel, about 30 miles from the Mediterranean. It is fed by the Jordan River, which flows through it from north to south, as well as by rainfall and springs. It is about 14 miles long and 8 miles across at its widest point; average depth is 84 feet; with a maximum depth of 141 feet. Although commonly called a sea, it is actually a fresh water lake formed by a basin in the Jordan Rift, where the African and Arabian Plates are slowly pulling apart from each other. The tectonic activity makes the region prone to earthquakes, and, in the geologic past, to volcanic activity.

map showing the location of the Sea of Galilee

satellite view of the Sea of Galilee

Fish, including tilapia and sardines, abound in the sea's waters, and fishing has been the area's principal industry since ancient times. The lush hills surrounding the lake support an abundance of wildlife, and groves of figs, olives, dates and pomegranates line its southern shores. Although usually peaceful, the lake's waters can become violent quickly when winds from the Golan Heights get funneled through the east-west-oriented hills.

Known as the Sea of Chinnereth in the Old Testament, the "sea" has also been known as Gennesaret, for the plain that lies to the northwest, and Tiberias, for a city on its shore. The name Galilee was first used in the New Testament. Jesus Christ recruited most of his disciples from among the fishermen who made their living on the Sea of Galilee, and it was on its shores where he performed the miracle of feeding a multitude with a few loaves of bread and a basket of fish.

In the 1st Century A.D., there were no fewer than sixteen harbors located on the lake. The ancient cities of Magdala, Capernaum, and Bethsaida once sat on the lake's northern shores, but only ruins remain today. There are still a few towns scattered around the sea, with Tiberias, on the southern edge, being the most important.

Sea of Galilee

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The Robinson Library >> Israel >> Regions, Etc., A-Z

This page was last updated on August 07, 2018.