The material that is put in this post covers only a small portion that I used in this one sermon, which has taken about four weeks to cover.
Let’s open our Bibles to the 8th chapter of the gospel of Luke as we examine God’s precious Word and another magnificent portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ presented to us by the Spirit-inspired historian, Luke. we’re looking at a section in this chapter from verse 22 through verse 25.
23 But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. 24 And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. And he awoke, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And being afraid they marvelled, saying one to another, Who then is this, that he commandeth even the winds and the water, and they obey him?
And the theme is power, power beyond anything man can do.
Not power to harness natural forces, but power to stop them. Massive power is exhibited in this passage by Jesus to control wind and water, forces that man has never ever been able to control.
And modern history is as full of devastating hurricanes and tornadoes and destructive winds and waves and floods as ancient history because man throughout all of the millennia has achieved virtually no ability to do anything about these powerful forces.
And yet in this account given to us by Luke, also given to us by Matthew and Mark, other gospel writers who described the same event, we see Jesus has complete power over these forces.
Verse 22: “Now it came about on one of those days that He and His disciples got into a boat and He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’ And they launched out. But as they were sailing along He fell asleep and a fierce gale of wind descended upon the lake and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. And they came to Him and woke Him up saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing.’ And being aroused He rebuked the wind and the surging waves and they stopped and it became calm. And He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this that He commands even the winds and the water and they obey Him?'”
Now the Lord of creation chose the ideal place on the planet for this display of astonishing power.
A town of Naphtali, called Chinnereth ( Joshua 19:35 ), sometimes in the plural form Chinneroth ( 11:2 ). In later times the name was gradually changed to Genezar and Gennesaret ( Luke 5:1 ). This city stood on the western shore of the lake to which it gave its name. No trace of it remains. The plain of Gennesaret has been called, from its fertility and beauty, “the Paradise of Galilee.” It is now called el-Ghuweir.
Galilee, Sea of. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/smiths-bible-dictionary/galilee-sea-of.html
So called from the province of Galilee, which bordered on the western side. ( Matthew 4:18 ) It was also called the “Sea of Tiberias,” from the celebrated city of that name. ( John 6:1 ) At its northwestern angle was a beautiful and fertile plain called “Gennesaret,” and from that it derived the name of “Lake of Gennesaret.” ( Luke 5:1 ) It was called in the Old Testament “the Sea of Chinnereth” or “Cinneroth,” ( Numbers 34:11 ; Joshua 12:3 ) from a town of that name which stood on or near its shore. ( Joshua 19:35 )
Its modern name is Bahr Tubariyeh .
Most of our Lords public life was spent in the environs of this sea. The surrounding region was then the most densely peopled in all Palestine. no less than nine very populous cities stood on the very shores of the lake.
The Sea of Galilee is of an oval long and six broad. It is 60 miles northeast of Jerusalem and 27 east of the Mediterranean Sea. The river Jordan enters it at its northern end and passes out at its southern end. In fact the bed of the lake is just a lower section of the Great Jordan valley. Its more remarkable feature is its deep depression, being no less than 700 feet below the level of the ocean.
The scenery is bleak and monotonous, being surrounded by a high and almost unbroken wall of hills, on account of which it is exposed to frequent sudden and violent storms. The great depression makes the climate of the shores almost tropical. This is very sensibly felt by the traveller in going down from the plains of Galilee.
In summer the heat is intense, and even in early spring the air has something of an Egyptian balminess. The water of the lake is sweet, cool and transparent; and as the beach is everywhere pebbly is has a beautiful sparkling look. It abounds in fish now as in ancient times. There were large fisheries on the lake, and much commerce was carried on upon it. [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton’s Bible Dictionary
GALILEE, SEA OF http://bibleatlas.org/chinneroth.htm
(he thalassa tes Galilaias):
1. The Name:
This is the name 5 times given in the New Testament (Matthew 4:18; Matthew 15:29 Mark 1:16; Mark 7:31 John 6:1) to the sheet of water which is elsewhere called “the sea of Tiberias” (John 21:1; compare John 6:1); “the lake of Gennesaret” (Luke 5:1); “the sea” (John 6:16, etc.), and “the lake” (Luke 5:1, etc.).
The Old Testament names were “sea of Chinnereth” (yam-kinnereth: Numbers 34:11 Deuteronomy 3:17 Joshua 13:27; Joshua 19:35), and “sea of Chinneroth” (yam-kineroth: Joshua 12:3; compare 11:2; 1 Kings 15:20). In 1 Maccabees 11:67 the sea is called “the water of Gennesar” (the Revised Version (British and American) “Gennesareth”). It had begun to be named from the city so recently built on its western shore even in New Testament times (John 21:1; John 6:1); and by this name, slightly modified, it is known to this day-Bachr Tabariyeh.
2. General Description:
The sea lies in the deep trough of the Jordan valley, almost due East of the Bay of Acre. The surface is 680 ft. below the level of the Mediterranean. It varies in depth from 130 ft. to 148 ft., being deepest along the course of the Jordan (Barrois, PEFS, 1894, 211-20). From the point where the Jordan enters in the North to its exit in the South is about 13 miles. The greatest breadth is in the North, from el-Mejdel to the mouth of Wady Semak being rather over 7 miles. It gradually narrows toward the South, taking the shape of a gigantic pear, with a decided bulge to the West. The water of the lake is clear and sweet. The natives use it for all purposes, esteeming it light and pleasant. They refuse to drink from the Jordan, alleging that “who drinks Jordan drinks fever.” Seen from the mountains the broad sheet appears a beautiful blue; so that, in the season of greenery, it is no exaggeration to describe it as a sapphire in a setting of emerald. It lights up the landscape as the eye does the human face; and it is often spoken of as “the eye of Galilee.” To one descending from Mt. Tabor and approaching the edge of the great hollow, on a bright spring day, when the land has already assumed its fairest garments, the view of the sea, as it breaks upon the vision in almost its whole extent, is one never to be forgotten. The mountains on the East and on the West rise to about 2,000 ft. The heights of Naphtali, piled up in the North, seem to culminate only in the snowy summit of Great Hermon. If the waters are still, the shining splendors of the mountain may be seen mirrored in the blue depths. Round the greater part of the lake there is a broad pebbly beach, with a sprinkling of small shells. On the sands along the shore from el-Mejdel to `Ain et-Tineh these shells are so numerous as to cause a white glister in the sunlight.
The main formation of the surrounding district is limestone. It is overlaid with lava; and here and there around the lake there are outcrops of basalt through the limestone. At eT-Tabgha in the North, at `Ain el Fuliyeh, South of el-Mejdel, and on the shore, about 2 miles South of modern Tiberias, there are strong hot springs. These things, together with the frequent, and sometimes terribly destructive, earthquakes, sufficiently attest the volcanic character of the region. The soil on the level parts around the sea is exceedingly fertile. See GENNESARET, LAND OF. Naturally the temperature in the valley is higher than that of the uplands; and here wheat and barley are harvested about a month earlier. Frost is not quite unknown; but no one now alive remembers it to have done more than lay the most delicate fringe of ice around some of the stones on the shore. The fig and the vine are still cultivated with success. Where vegetable gardens are planted they yield plentifully. A few palms are still to be seen. The indigo plant is grown in the plain of Gennesaret. In their season the wild flowers lavish a wealth of lovely colors upon the surrounding slopes; while bright-blossoming oleanders fringe the shore.
Coming westward from the point where the Jordan enters the lake, the mountains approach within a short distance of the sea. On the shore, fully 2 miles from the Jordan, are the ruins of Tell Chum. See CAPERNAUM. About 2 miles farther West are the hot springs of eT-Tabgha. Here a shallow vale breaks northward, bounded on the West by Tell `Areimeh. This tell is crowned by an ancient Canaanite settlement. It throws out a rocky promontory into the sea, and beyond this are the ruins of Khan Minyeh, with `Ain et-Tineh close under the cliff. Important Roman remains have recently been discovered here. From this point the plain of Gennesaret (el-Ghuweir) sweeps round to el-Mejdel, a distance of about 4 miles. West of this village opens the tremendous gorge, Wady el Chamam, with the famous robbers’ fastnesses in its precipitous sides, and the ruins of Arbela on its southern lip.
From the northern parts of the lake the Horns of ChaTTin, the traditional Mount of Beatitudes, may be seen through the rocky jaws of the gorge. South of el-Mejdel the mountains advance to the shore, and the path is cut in the face of the slope, bringing us to the hot spring, `Ain el-Fuliyeh, where is a little valley, with gardens and orange grove. The road then crosses a second promontory, and proceeds along the base of the mountain to Tiberias. Here the mountains recede from the shore, leaving a crescent-shaped plain, largely covered with the ruins of the ancient city.
The modern town stands at the northern corner of the plain; while at the southern end are the famous hot baths, the ancient Hammath. A narrow ribbon of plain between the mountain and the shore runs to the South end of the lake. There the Jordan, issuing from the sea, almost surrounds the mound on which are the ruins of Kerak, the Tarichea of Josephus Crossing the floor of the valley, past Semakh, which is now a station on the Haifa-Damascus railway, we find a similar strip of plain along the eastern shore.
Nearly opposite Tiberias is the stronghold of Chal`-at el Chocn, possibly the ancient Hippos, with the village of Fik, the ancient Aphek, on the height to the East. To the North of this the waters of the sea almost touch the foot of the steep slope. A herd of swine running headlong down the mountain would here inevitably perish in the lake (Matthew 8:32, etc.). Next, we reach the mouth of Wady Semak, in which lie the ruins of Kurseh, probably representing the ancient Gerasa. Northward the plain widens into the marshy breadths of el-BaTeichah, and once more we reach the Jordan, flowing smoothly through the fiat lands to the sea.
The position of the lake makes it liable to sudden storms, the cool air from the uplands rushing down the gorges with great violence and tossing the waters in tumultuous billows. Such storms are fairly frequent, and as they are attended with danger to small craft, the boatmen are constantly on the alert. Save in very settled conditions they will not venture far from the shore. Occasionally, however, tempests break over the lake, in which a boat could hardly live. Only twice in over 5 years the present writer witnessed such a hurricane. Once it burst from the South. In a few moments the air was thick with mist, through which one could hear the roar of the tortured waters. In about ten minutes the wind fell as suddenly as it had risen. The air cleared, and the wide welter of foam-crested waves attested the fury of the blast. On the second occasion the wind blew from the East, and the phenomena described above were practically repeated.
The sea contains many varieties of fish in great numbers. The fishing industry was evidently pursued to profit in the days of Christ. Zebedee was able to hire men to assist him (Mark 1:20). In recent years there has been a considerable revival of this industry. See FISHING. Four of the apostles, and these the chief, had been brought up as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Peter and Andrew, James and John.
The towns around the lake named in Scripture are treated in separate articles. Some of these it is impossible to identify. Many are the ruins of great and splendid cities on slope and height of which almost nothing is known today. But from their mute testimony we gather that the lake in the valley which is now so quiet was once the center of a busy and prosperous population. We may assume that the cities named in the Gospels were mainly Jewish. Jesus would naturally avoid those in which Greek influences were strong. In most cases they have gone, leaving not even their names with any certainty behind; but His memory abides forever. The lake and mountains are, in main outline, such as His eyes beheld. This it is that lends its highest charm to “the eye of Galilee.”
The advent of the railway has stirred afresh the pulses of life in the valley. A steamer plies on the sea between the station at Semakh and Tiberias. Superior buildings are rising outside the ancient walls. Gardens and orchards are being planted. Modern methods of agriculture are being employed in the Jewish colonies, which are rapidly increasing in number. Slowly, perhaps, but surely, the old order is giving place to the new. If freedom and security be enjoyed in reasonable measure, the region will again display its long-hidden treasures of fertility and beauty.
kin’-e-reth, kin’-e-roth (kinnereth (Deuteronomy 3:17 Joshua 19:35, etc.)), (kinaroth; Codex Vaticanus, Kenereth, Codex Alexandrinus, Cheneroth (Joshua 11:2)): Taking the order in which the towns are mentioned, this city seems to have lain North of Rakkath (?Tiberias). It may have occupied the site of el-Mejdel, at the Southwest corner of the plain of Gennesaret. From this city the sea took its Old Testament name (Numbers 34:11, etc.).
The Sea of Galilee lies on the ancient Via Maris, which linked Egypt with the northern empires. The Greeks, Hasmoneans, and Romans founded flourishing towns and settlements on the land-locked lake including Hippos and Tiberias. The first-century historian Flavius Josephus was so impressed by the area that he wrote, “One may call this place the ambition of Nature.” Josephus also reported a thriving fishing industry at this time, with 230 boats regularly working in the lake. Archaeologists discovered one such boat, nicknamed the Jesus Boat, in 1986.
Much of the ministry of Jesus occurred on the shores of Lake Galilee. In those days, there was a continuous ribbon development of settlements and villages around the lake and plenty of trade and ferrying by boat. The Synoptic gospels of Mark (1:14–20), Matthew (4:18–22), and Luke (5:1–11) describe how Jesus recruited four of his apostles from the shores of Lake Galilee: the fishermen Simon and his brother Andrew and the brothers John and James. One of Jesus’ famous teaching episodes, the Sermon on the Mount, is supposed to have been given on a hill overlooking the lake. Many of his miracles are also said to have occurred here including his walking on water, calming the storm, the disciples and the boatload of fish, and his feeding five thousand people (in Tabgha).
In 135 CE Bar Kokhba’s revolt was put down. The Romans responded by banning all Jews from Jerusalem. The center of Jewish culture and learning shifted to the region of the Galilee and the Kinneret, particularly the city of Tiberias. It was in this region that the Jerusalem Talmud was compiled.
The lake’s importance declined when the Byzantines lost control and the area was conquered by the Umayyad Caliphate and subsequent Islamic empires. Apart from Tiberias, the major towns and cities in the area were gradually abandoned. The palace Khirbat al-Minya was built by the lake during the reign of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid I (705–715 CE). In 1187, Saladin defeated the armies of the Crusades at the Battle of Hattin, largely because he was able to cut the Crusaders off from the valuable fresh water of the Sea of Galilee.
Southern tip of the lake, seen from Mount Poriya
Throughout the early Ottoman era, the lake had little importance within the Ottoman Empire. Tiberias did see a significant revival of its Jewish community in the 16th century, but had gradually declined, until in 1660 the city was completely destroyed. In the early 18th century, Tiberias was rebuilt by Zahir al-Umar, becoming the center of his rule over Galilee, and seeing also a revival of its Jewish community.
In 1909, Jewish pioneers established the first cooperative farming village (kibbutz), Kvutzat Kinneret in the immediate vicinity of the lake. The settlement trained Jewish immigrants in farming and agriculture. Later, Kvutzat Kinneret pioneers established Kibbutz Degania Alef. The Kvutzat Kinneret is considered the cradle of the kibbutz culture of early Zionism and is the birthplace of Naomi Shemer and the burial site of Rachel—two of the most prominent Israeli poets.
In 1917, the British defeated Ottoman Turkish forces and took control of Palestine, while France took control of Syria. In the carve-up of the Ottoman territories between Britain and France, it was agreed that Britain would retain control of Palestine, while France would control Syria. However, the allies had to fix the border between the Mandatory Palestine and the French Mandate of Syria. The boundary was defined in broad terms by the Franco-British Boundary Agreement of December 1920, which drew it across the middle of the lake. However, the commission established by the 1920 treaty redrew the boundary. The Zionist movement pressured the French and British to assign as many water sources as possible to Mandatory Palestine during the demarcating negotiations. The High Commissioner of Palestine, Herbert Samuel, had sought full control of the Sea of Galilee. The negotiations led to the inclusion into the Palestine territory of the whole Sea of Galilee, both sides of the River Jordan, Lake Hula, Dan spring, and part of the Yarmouk. The final border approved in 1923 followed a 10-meter wide strip along the lake’s northeastern shore, cutting the Mandatory Syria (State of Damascus) off from the lake.
The British and French Agreement provided that existing rights over the use of the waters of the Jordan by the inhabitants of Syria would be maintained; the Government of Syria would have the right to erect a new pier at Semakh on Lake Tiberias or jointly use the existing pier; persons or goods passing between the landing-stage on the Lake of Tiberias and Semakh would not be subject to customs regulations, and the Syrian government would have access to the said landing-stage; the inhabitants of Syria and Lebanon would have the same fishing and navigation rights on Lakes Huleh, Tiberias and River Jordan, while the Government of Palestine would be responsible for policing of lakes.
On May 15, 1948, Syria invaded the newborn State of Israel, capturing territory along the Sea of Galilee. Under the 1949 armistice agreement between Israel and Syria, Syria occupied the northeast shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. The agreement, though, stated that the armistice line was “not to be interpreted as having any relation whatsoever to ultimate territorial arrangements.” Syria remained in possession of the lake’s northeast shoreline until the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
In the 1950s, Israel formulated a plan to link the Kinnereth with the rest of the country by National Water Carrier, in order to supply the water demand of the growing country. The carrier was completed in 1964. The Israeli plan, in line with the Headwater Diversion Plan (Jordan River) of the Arab League, sparked political and sometimes even armed confrontations over the Jordan River basin.
During a routine sonar scan in 2003 (finding published in 2013), archaeologists discovered an enormous conical stone structure. The structure, which has a diameter of around 230 feet (70 m), is made of boulders and stones. The ruins are estimated to be between 2,000 and 12,000 years old, and are about 10 metres (33 ft) underwater. The estimated weight of the monument is over 60,000 tons.
Researchers explain that the site resembles early burial sites in Europe and was likely built in the early Bronze Age.
Israel’s National Water Carrier, completed in 1964, transports water from the lake to the population centers of Israel, and in the past supplied most of the country’s drinking water. Nowadays the lake supplies approximately 10% of Israel’s drinking water needs.
In 1964, Syria attempted construction of a Headwater Diversion Plan that would have blocked the flow of water into the Sea of Galilee, sharply reducing the water flow into the lake. This project and Israel’s attempt to block these efforts in 1965 were factors which played into regional tensions culminating in the 1967 Six-Day War. During the war, Israel captured the Golan Heights, which contain some of the sources of water for the Sea of Galilee.
The Israeli government monitors water levels and publishes the results daily at this web page. The level over the past eight years can be retrieved from that site. Increasing water demand in Israel, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as dry winters, have resulted in stress on the lake and a decreasing water line to dangerously low levels at times. The Sea of Galilee is at risk of becoming irreversibly salinized by the salt water springs under the lake, which are held in check by the weight of the freshwater on top of them.
Up until the mid-2010s, about 400,000,000 cubic metres (1.4×1010 cu ft) of water was pumped in the National Water Carrier each year. Under the terms of the Israel–Jordan peace treaty, Israel also supplies 50,000,000 cubic metres (1.8×109 cu ft) of water annually from the lake to Jordan. In recent years the Israeli government has made extensive investments in water reclamation and desalination infrastructure in the country. This has allowed it to significantly reduce the amount of water pumped from the lake annually in an effort to restore and improve its ecological environment, as well as respond to some of the most extreme drought conditions in hundreds of years which the lake’s intake basin has frequently experienced since 1998. Therefore, it is expected that in 2016 only about 25,000,000 cubic metres (880,000,000 cu ft) of water will be drawn from the lake for Israeli domestic consumption.
ourists on a boat at Tiberias, 1891
The beach of the Sea of Galilee Tourism around the Sea of Galilee is an important economic branch. Historical and religious sites in the region draw both local and foreign tourists. The Sea of Galilee is an attraction for Christian pilgrims who visit Israel to see the places where Jesus performed miracles according the New Testament, such as his walking on water, calming the storm and feeding the multitude. Alonzo Ketcham Parker, a nineteenth-century American traveler, called visiting the Sea of Galilee “a ‘fifth gospel’ which one read devoutly, his heart overflowing with quiet joy”.
In April 2011, Israel unveiled a 40-mile (64 km) hiking trail in the Galilee for Christian pilgrims, called the “Jesus Trail“. It includes a network of footpaths, roads and bicycle paths linking sites central to the lives of Jesus and his disciples. It ends at Capernaum on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus espoused his teachings.
Another key attraction is the site where the Sea of Galilee’s water flows into the Jordan River, to which thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come to be baptized every year.
Israel’s most well-known open water swim race, the Kinneret Crossing, is held every year in September, drawing thousands of open water swimmers to participate in competitive and noncompetitive events.
Tourists also partake in the building of rafts on Lavnun Beach, called Rafsodia. Here many different age groups work together to build a raft with their bare hands and then sail that raft across the sea.
Flora and fauna
The warm waters of the Sea of Galilee support various flora and fauna, which have supported a significant commercial fishery for more than two millennia. Local flora include various reeds along most of the shoreline as well as phytoplankton. Fauna include zooplankton, benthos and a number of fish species such as Acanthobrama terraesanctae. Fish caught commercially include Tristramella simonis and Sarotherodon galilaeus, locally called “St. Peter’s Fish”. In 2005, 300 short tons (270 t) of tilapia were caught by local fishermen. This dropped to 8 short tons (7.3 t) in 2009 due to overfishing.
However, low water levels in drought years have stressed the lake’s ecology. This may have been aggravated by over-extraction of water for either the National Water Carrier to supply other parts of Israel or, since 1994, for the supply of water to Jordan (see “Water use” section above). Droughts of the early and mid-1990s dried out the marshy northern margin of the lake. A fish species that is unique to the lake, Tristramella sacra, used to spawn in the marsh and has not been seen since the 1990s droughts. Conservationists fear this species may have become extinct. It is hoped that drastic reductions in the amount of water pumped through the National Water Carrier will help restore the lake’s ecology over the span of several years. As such, the amount planned to be drawn in 2016 for Israeli domestic water use is expected to be less than 10% of the amount commonly drawn on an annual basis in the decades before the mid-2010s.
He chose the little lake of Chinneroth, (Joshua 19:35,)Gennesaret, or modern times Lake Chinnereth in the Galilee section of Israel, usually in the Bible referred to as the Sea of Galilee, though it’s just a lake thirteen miles at its longest length and seven or eight miles at its widest point.
Lake Chinnereth, as it is known today, is one of the most fascinating and most studied bodies of water on the earth. We become sort of superficially familiar with it as the Sea of Galilee and we know about the fishing boats and about the agriculture around the sea, but we really, for the most part in kind of going through the stories of the Bible, never come to grips with the amazing properties of this lake which make this story so believable and so important.
It is one of the most studied lakes in the world. It is studied by scientific experts from all over the globe. All you have to do is look on your Worldwide Web for Lake Chinnereth and you will be flooded with all of the studies that have been done through the years to try to come to grips with the amazing, amazing, unique elements of wind and water that function on this lake.
It is the lowest freshwater lake in the world at 682 feet below sea level. There is no lake lower on the planet. It is only thirty miles east of the Mediterranean Sea, situated in a bowl-shaped valley. To the west are the hills of Galilee which rise to a height of about 1,500 feet and so they are 1,500 feet plus 682 feet above the surface of the lake. To the north and west, as I said, are those hills of Galilee. To the east of the Sea of Galilee is a plateau. In fact, it’s a plateau that runs for forty-two miles down that part of the land of Israel. It is a plateau sixteen miles wide known today as the Golan Heights. It is a no-man’s land. The Israelis have pushed the Arabs back many miles against the…against the countries to the east and away from the heights because for so many years they were being shelled in the villages below the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights rise to an elevation of 3,000 feet, so they are quite high above the surface of the lake, a perfect place to bombard the people in the villages below. This plateau is sheer at some points and sloped at other points. To the north of the lake are the mountains of southern Lebanon that rise 10,000 feet above the surface of the water.
So there it exists on three sides surrounded by mountains from 1,500 feet all the way up to 10,000 feet.
The lake itself is supplied by the snow melt that comes from the Lebanese mountains, Mount Hermon being the most familiar one at 9,200 feet above sea level. The snow melts and sends the clean, clear water down the small Jordan River and it fills up the lake.
But that’s not the only water supply. That whole area is geothermal (produced by the internal heat of the earth) energy: and at the north and west part of the lake there are hot springs, fresh clear water bubbling up out of the ground that also supplies the marvelous and unique lake. Because the water is so pure, 50 percent of all drinking water in Israel comes from that lake, providing wondrously good water for all the inhabitants of Israel and it’s always been that way.
The lake is amazingly stratified. i.e. to form, arrage, or deposit in layers.
There are literally three sections of water, three different temperatures that are remarkable. The lake goes to a depth of 150 feet. Go down fifty feet and the temperature drops to about fifty-nine degrees. Go down another fifty feet and it drops to under fifty degrees, and those various sections of the lake have their own movements and their own motion, which contribute to the surface turbulence, to some degree.
Because of the freshness of the lake and the agitation of the lake, it is a wonderful place for algae to flourish and algae flourishing causes the fish population to flourish so that catching fish in the Sea of Galilee is about as easy as catching them anywhere.
Fishing in the Sea
For millennia, fishing has been a very prosperous industry around the Sea of Galilee. Jesus spent most of the early years of his ministry in this area. He soon asked twelve men to help him. The first men He selected were local fishermen.
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. – Matthew 4:18-22
Have you ever wondered what type of fish was caught? I have. Of course, we can’t know for sure because the Bible doesn’t tell us. But, generally, there were three different species of fish in the sea during the First Century. The most common was a species called Tilapia. It is primarily a fresh water fish and lives in lakes and seas in warmer climates. As an adult, these fish are about 7-8 inches long and weigh about a pound.
Tilapia, a common fish found in the Sea of Galilee, being served at a restaurant in Magdala.
Over time, this species of fish has been nicknamed “St. Peter’s Fish”. This is an obvious reference to the passage mentioned above as well as a couple of others in Scripture. Present day visitors to the area can have the opportunity to eat this at a few restaurants around the shore. On my first trip to Israel, we ate at a small restaurant near the ancient city of Magdala. I have attached a picture of my plate. Being from the southeastern part of the United States, the opportunity to eat fried foods while I was over there was definitely a highlight of the day.
Israel Bars Fishing In Sea of Galilee
Shaul the fisherman hoses down a load of imported sea bream flown in from Greece, speaking nostalgically of the good old days when the catches were plenty: “When I was a kid, fishermen would toss out 150 hooks and haul in 100 kilos of fish,” says Shaul Rokach, a 57-year-old fishmonger from Jaffa.
“Today the fishermen toss out 3,000 hooks. He starts letting them out and doesn’t know when it will finish and in the end he hauls in 15 kilos, maybe. They can’t even cover the cost of the bait let alone the fuel. “Once my smile spread from ear to ear,” he adds. “My pockets were full of money. We’d strut down the piers. Now, they’re just trying to kill off the profession.”
Rokach is not the first fisherman to complain there are no longer any fish to catch in the holy land. Tradition holds that Jesus and his disciples fished the Sea of Galilee. According to the New Testament, Apostle Simon Peter ran a fishing business on the shores of the lake and complained that his net kept coming up empty. Jesus told him to cast his net again and it came up bursting with fish (Luke 5:4).
Generations have carried on this tradition, and today the most popular fish in the lake is dubbed St. Peter’s Fish, or Tilapia. But after being almost overfished to death, in the coming six weeks the Israeli government will gradually enforce a total ban on fishing in the biblical lake an effort to bring it back to life.
The new, two-year ban will force some 200 licensed fishermen out of the Sea of Galilee in search of a new trade.
“We will support the fishermen and make sure the lake is restocked with fish,” Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said when announcing the ban after his weekly cabinet meeting
The Sea of Galilee has witnessed a dramatic decline in fish, largely due to illegal practices such as catching breeding fish and preventing fish populations from growing. Millions of hungry migratory birds also feed heavily on the fish.
The ban on fishing in the fresh water Sea of Galilee in northern Israel has been discussed for some time. A joint, formal plan was recently formulated by Israel’s Agriculture Ministry, Environment Ministry and Treasury.
“There is a world wide trend in the decline of fish,” Hagay Noyberger, chief fishing ranger from the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture tells The Media Line. “In Israel it’s the same. It’s caused by pollution, overfishing, global warming and other phenomena.”
Prof. Menachem Goren, an aquatic biologist from Tel Aviv University, says overfishing was the principal problem in the declining fish stocks.
“There are too many fishermen, too many boats, over fishing and no management,” he says, speaking in his laboratory with shelves full of bizarre sea creatures preserved in jars. “The situation has become very bad not just in the reduction in the numbers of fish, but also in the size of those which remain.”
The Ministry of Agriculture reports that there has been a steady 20 percent decline each year in Israeli fish catches. In 2000, for example, there was almost 4,000 tons of fresh catch recorded. By 2006, just over 2,000 tons of fresh fish were caught.
Unlike neighboring countries, Israel does not ban fishing during the three to four month fish reproduction season, thus denying the fish population a chance to recover.
“In most Mediterranean countries, fishing is banned during the summer time and this allows the fish to breed and to grow,” says Prof. Goren. “Here in Israel we don’t have any regulation of this kind right now. So the fishermen fish all year round and they don’t give the fish any chance. They remove the mothers while they are small before they get to maturity and that is it.”
Noyberger says this too was about to change.
“We want to close areas to fishing in order to replenish the stock. It is a long process and not something that takes a day or two,” the fish ranger reveals.
Noyberger refuses to elaborate, but reports say these no-fishing zones will be off the coast of Tel Aviv, Ashkelon and the rich breeding grounds of Achziv just south of the Lebanon border.
The result of these changes is that Israeli fishermen are a dying breed, and the few who do remain say many have quit the trade out of frustration.
Rokach, known as “Shaul the fishmonger” from Jaffa, abandoned his boat to make a living importing fish.
“I’ve got salmon from Norway, grouper from Egypt, and cod and mackerel and sea bass,” he says, rattling off his imported stock. “People love fish a lot. All the fishermen I know are retiring and there are no new fishermen. I miss it, but let me remain with my good memories.”
The Ministry of Agriculture admits it has a plan to encourage the retirement of at least a third of the country’s legal fishing fleet. There are about 400 licensed boats in the Mediterranean, Sea of Galilee and Red Sea and about 3,000 registered fishermen.
“In order to improve fishing for the coming generations there is a trend to try and reduce the fishing fleet,” says Noyberger. “It is not something that will happen tomorrow, but if possible we will in the coming years reduce it by a third so that those who do remain will be able to make a living… The fishermen who are less active might find it worth their while to leave the profession.”