Today out tour focused on sites in Galilee associated with Jesus and his ministry. We stopped at Migdal yesterday, so we began our day with a drive through Tiberius to Mount Arbel. This is not so much a biblical site, but a hike up to the top of Mount Arbel to view the Sea of Galilee. From the top of the cliffs we can see the west and north quarters of the sea, essentially where all of the Jesus sites are located. The carob tree at the top of the hill was struck by lightning a few years ago and is recovering nicely (I have done group photos from that spot for many years). Although the morning was warm, there was a strong breeze on top of Arbel so the walk was pleasant.
We arrived at the Mount of Beatitudes about ten AM and despite being Sunday morning, there were not many pilgrims crowding the grounds. We found a mostly shaded spot to read from Matthew 5 and talk about the Beatitudes. (See this post, What are the Beatitudes?) The group was able to visit the octagonal chapel then had a few minutes to pray and read the Bible privately.
We then drove a short distance to Capernaum, which I was afraid would be closed at noon. But to my surprise, they are now allowing visitors to stay in the grounds all day. Most Chrstian sites close form noon to two PM. For most the highlight here is Peter’s house, although it is difficult to see much of the house due to the large church built over the top. There is also a beautiful synagogue, although it dates to the fifth or six century, long after the time of Jesus. For me, the highlight of a visit to Capernaum is walking out in the beach near the Sea and reading the Bible. In this case I read Mark 2 since the healing of the paralytic takes place at Peter’s house.We took some time in the shaded area near the synagogue to read Mark 2:1-12 and talk about the authenticity of the site (is this really Peter’s house? Maybe?)The only negative thing about this visit is an enormous group of 250 people led by Mike Huckabee took over the shaded area, some even seated themselves among our group. (FYI, our tour did more for much less money…)
After lunch (Aroma Coffee, avocado sandwich and a double espresso) we headed back to Nof Ginosar to to the Yigal Allon center where the Galilee boat is on display.There is a presentation describing how the boat was discovered and preserved and the actual boat is on display in a climate controlled room. I have visited this museum a few times and I have enjoyed the presentation. The shop is quite nice and has a nice selection of Christian and Jewish oriented souvenirs (including wine and olive oil).
My students were very tired out by this time and were looking forward to swimming in the Sea of Galilee or the pool (or a a short nap). We met our guide at 5:30 for a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee before dinner. I have done the boat ride a long time ago and was never really impressed. But this was a little different, we were able to talk through the two big miracles on the sea of Galilee (See Matthew 14:22-33, Why does Jesus walk on the Water? and Why Does Peter Ask to Get Out of the Boat?) Several people shared some idea about why Jesus chose to reveal himself first in Galilee and many enjoyed some praise music.
Tomorrow we enter Jordan and visit Jerash on our way to Petra.