Leaving our Holiday Village around 8am we were glad to see the sun shining again, giving us another beautiful day. We began by crossing the Jordan River on a brand new bridge and driving up to the ruins of Bethsaida, the city of Peter, Andrew & Philip. Tradition says two other apostles may have also called Bethsaida home. Jesus performed many miracles here but cursed it after the people failed to repent.
Some of the finds here included a small shovel and some clay figurines, as well as first century pottery inscribed with a cross. Tom told us about wine skins and how new and old wineskins represent the old ways of our life before Christ and the new life we have in Christ.
This is Israel's newest park but the excavations continue here. One of the areas where we can see they are still working is the iron age gate, from the time of King David. Another area is called the house of the fisherman because of all of the fishhooks that were found in it. This is a fascinating site, with connections to both the time of Jesus and King David!
From there we drove back across the Jordan River and up the hillside to the Mount of the Beattitudes. It is a beautiful, tranquil hillside area and we can imagine Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount here. We can look down at the Sea of Galilee and look across to the city of Tiberias.
Jesus wandered around this area and taught for three years. Gordon Govier did the whole Sermon on the Mount for us by memory, Matthew, chapters 5-7. The lovely church here is another example of Barlucci's architecture, with a very unique style.
We walked from there down to Tabgha. We saw lots of caterpillars and wild flowers in bloom. Tabgha means seven springs and comes from the Greek word Heptapegon. This is the traditional site where Jesus fed the 5000 with two fish and give loaves, Mark 6:30-44.
This also was the location of the last appearance of Jesus in Galilee, the risen Christ meeting with the disciples. There is a beautiful mosaic of fishes and loaves in the church here, which has Byzantine, Crusader and other levels, going back to the 2nd or 3rd century.
Then a couple miles down the road is Capernaum, Jesus' base during his ministry period. The Franciscans now occupy the village site, and have excavated parts of it. Next to it is a Greek Orthodox Church.
Excavators found the remains of an Octagon church from the 5th-6th century, underneath that remains of a first century home which is believed to be the home of St. Peter. On top of it today is a recently constructed modernistic church that looks like a flying saucer. Next to the church is The partially reconstructed 5th century White Synagogue, sitting on top of the basalt remains of a first century synagogue. Since the newer synagogue is built in the style of the earlier one, Tom suggested that scholars now believe that it was built specifically for pilgrims to show them what the synagogue of Jesus was like.
We then drove further around the seashore to Kibbutz Ginnosaur and the Yigal Allon Center to see the 2,000 year old boat discovered in 1986 by two brothers who lived on the kibbutz. It has been restored by bathing it in a plastic solution for a number of years. It was made out of quite a few different woods: alleppo pine, oak, willow, cedar, redbud and hawthorn. An oil lamp and pottery bowl were also found in the boat when it was excavated about 200 yards downshore.
We boarded a boat at the dock there and sailed down to Tiberias. We were swarmed by seagulls as soon as we started feeding them bread crumbs.
After lunch we drove further south to Yardenit, the Jordan River baptismal site. We read Mark 1:4-8 and then Gary baptized Terri Gates.
Then we drove on back to the north side of the lake, along the eastern shore and then up into the Golan to the Ancient village of Qatzrin. A Jewish village from the Byzantine era has been recreated and reconstructed. It is one of 27 Jewish sits in this area of the Central Golan. The synagogue was discovered in 1976 and the excavation began in 1982.
Also there were several homes where we got an idea of how people lived in earlier centuries. Then we watched a big-screen media presentation that told the story of the Golan Heights.
Back at the Holiday Village that evening we had the traditional fish dinner. Gordon tried to show us the special technique for cutting it up and eating it. A few of us passed on the fish, even though it was beautifully prepared with head and tail still attached.
We retired for our last night in Galilee about 8:30pm. The tour is coming to a close. Gary and I have learned so much and hope we can apply it to our daily walk with the Lord and boldly share the truth with those we come in contact with daily.
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