Listen to the Land (Historical Geography) - Lesson 18

Sea of Galilee

This body of water is often referred to as a, “sea” even though it is fresh water, not salt water. There are not many stories in the Hebrew Bible that take place in this area, but it is a center of activity for Jesus during his ministry. Many of the parables are illustrations taken from local culture and geography.

Cyndi Parker
Listen to the Land (Historical Geography)
Lesson 18
Watching Now
Sea of Galilee

I. "Sea" of Galilee

II. Gennesaret

III. Rosh Pina Sil

IV. Hebrew Bible Stories

V. New Testament Stories

VI. Capernaum

A. Shoreline of the Sea of Galilee

B. Mathew 4:15-17 and Isaiah 9:1-2

C. Followers of Jesus

D. Response to miracles

E. Jesus uses local geography to teach

  • The land influences the people that are living on it by affecting their stories. Learning to listen to the land helps you understand the details that are hiding in the background so that when you read the Bible, it’s like you see the narrative in living color and 3 dimensions.

  • Major rivers in the Ancient Near East provided the resources necessary for empires like Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Persia to grow and flourish. Israel is on a couple of the major trade routes that connects these cultures. The location of mountains, hills and valleys in Israel affects the lifestyle and travel patterns of the people who live there and the people travelling through.

  • Learn how the geography and climate of the Cisjordan and Transjordan regions shape agricultural and shepherding activities, emphasizing the importance of rain patterns and water management techniques in biblical times.
  • Learn how the granite, sandstone, and three types of limestone shape the lifestyle, agriculture, and building practices in the biblical lands, highlighting the geological factors that influence whether inhabitants are migratory or sedentary.
  • Bashan is in the north and has enough rainfall and arable soil to support crops and large animals like cattle. The Dome of Gilead provides connection points for international and local travel. Ammon and Moab are neighbors and descendants of Lot’s daughters. Edom is south and are descendants of Esau.

  • The people that migrated to live in the coastal plain were known as the Philistines. Because of the location and terrain, the roads were sources of international travel and trade. Cities were built for commerce and control. The Negev was an important area to control for travel.

  • The Rift Valley is valuable because of its location and resources. Bitumen and Balsam were sought after. It was a popular trade route but it was important to know where to get water. Jericho was at crossroads and was near some major springs. Connecting events in biblical history to the event and location of the baptism of Jesus adds weight and significance to it.

  • The hill country of Judah has enough rain to grow grapes and other crops. Hebron was first given to Caleb and then was the city that David ruled from when he first became king. It was a connecting point for local roads. Bethlehem and Tekoa are also cities in this area.

  • Jerusalem is framed by the hills and valleys that are near it. The Sorek Wadi System is to the west and the Mount of Olives is to the east. David built a palace and Solomon later built a temple. Jerusalem was important in Jewish history and also has a place in eschatology.

  • By the beginning of the first century, Jerusalem was the site of a magnificent Jewish temple built by Herod the great. He also built an impressive palace and a Roman fort which overlooked the temple. The events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus take on added layers of meaning when you understand how the geography of the events reminded people of Messianic prophecies.

  • Benjamin has the smallest tribal allotment but it is one of the most significant areas in the nation of Israel. The geographical features, the cities located there and the roads that run through it make it a region of national and international importance.

  • The Shephelah is between the hill country and the coastal plain and has unique geographical features. When you know the location of the roads, valleys and cities in this area, you can see their significance in the stories. When you understand where Micah and Isaiah came from and their historical context, you can understand why there is a difference in their message and tone.

  • The rocks and roads will give you valuable information about the Sharon Plain and Mt. Carmel. The international road took different paths around Mt. Carmel depending on your final destination. The harbor and palace that Herod built in Caesarea were impressive.

  • The hill country of Joseph has abundant resources and nearby roads for commerce. Shiloh was a religious center and the place where Joshua met with representatives from each tribe to determine their tribal allotment. The women of Shiloh also were instrumental in saving the tribe of Benjamin. Shechem was important as far back as Abraham. Every time people would see Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, it was a reminder of the blessings and curses of their covenant with God.

  • Who was Omri, and why was he significant in making Samaria an important city? When the people of Judah returned from Persia, there was a conflict with the people of Samaria. The animosity that was still present during the ministry of Jesus set the stage for an encounter he had with a woman that was at a well near the city.  

  • Upper and Lower Galilee have the climate soil that is conducive to widespread agriculture. Lower Galilee also has some valleys that became major roads. Major empires of the fertile crescent exerted their influence here as they expanded. When the Greeks took control with their military, they also spread their cultural influence.

  • The Jezreel Valley is the center of activity for many of the biblical narratives. Not only was it an important economic and strategic location for Israel, but also for the Canaanites, Egyptians, Arameans and Assyrians. It is also a place where significant events took place in the lives of the prophets and Jesus.

  • This body of water is often referred to as a, “sea” even though it is fresh water, not salt water. There are not many stories in the Hebrew Bible that take place in this area, but it is a center of activity for Jesus during his ministry. Many of the parables are illustrations taken from local culture and geography.

  • The Huleh basin has an abundance of water from several sources. The soil is also good, but the conditions for growing crops in some areas presents some challenges. Dan is a strategic city in the north as a gateway to the region and a religious center under Jeroboam. Caesarea Phillippi was built by Herod and was a place that Jesus used to teach his disciples about his role as Messiah and their future as leaders of the church.  

  • The Gospel of Luke traces the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, and the book of Acts traces the journey of the gospel going out from Jerusalem. The events in Pentecost have a connection to the events at Mt. Sinai. The gospel is for the world but the events that made it possible are anchored in Israel. (Don't forget the Epilogue, Lesson 21!)

  • There are two different stories in the Gospels of Jesus feeding large groups of people. One account is in John 6 and another account is in Mark 8. The message is similar but the geography gives you some clues to help you understand why the details are different.

Have you ever read about a place and when you went there in person, it came alive? As you walk through the hills and valleys of Israel with Dr. Parker, you will see the stories of the Bible in living color. 

Your location affects your lifestyle, relationships, worldview, occupation, diet and travel. In ancient Israel, you depended on the resources around you to survive. People often lived near springs or rivers, but it was possible in some places to collect rain water and ration it through the year. The terrain and the type of soil would determine what crops you could grow, or what animals you could raise. Living near a road would give you opportunities to sell what you produced or buy what you needed. Your location would determine the amount of risk you would face from people in neighboring countries. By living in the hill country, you would develop a different mindset than if you lived on an open plain.

Once you begin to have an understanding of the, "rocks and roads" of Israel, reading your Bible with a good map next to you will help you get a 3 dimensional perspective. When the characters and the scenery become life-like in your mind, you will find yourself being inspired and motivated in your understanding of your relationship with God and how you can apply it in your interactions with others. Take this opportunity to learn from Dr. Parker to "Listen to the Land!"


Recommended Reading:

Encountering Jesus in the Real World of the Gospels, by Dr. Cyndi Parker

Holman Illustrated Guide to Biblical Geography, by Paul Wright

Satellite Bible Atlas: Historical Geography of the Bible

Recommended Books

Listen to the Land: Historical Geography - Bible Study

Listen to the Land: Historical Geography - Bible Study

Have you ever read about a place and when you went there in person, it came alive? As you walk through the hills and valleys of Israel with Dr. Parker, you will see the...

Listen to the Land: Historical Geography - Bible Study
Satellite Bible Atlas

Satellite Bible Atlas

A comprehensive guide to biblical geography, The Satellite Bible Atlas by William Schlegel provides historical context and insightful maps to help readers better understand the world of the Bible.
Satellite Bible Atlas

Dr. Cyndi Parker

Listen to the Land (Historical Geography)


Sea of Galilee

Lesson Transcript

Great. So as we have been exploring the Galilee, we've already done the upper and lower Galilee sections and now we're kind of moving over towards the Rift Valley area and we're going to find the Sea of Galilee. So we're going to spend quite a bit of time around the sea discovering what we can see about the geography of the Sea of Galilee. And people always ask me about why is it actually called the sea? Because it is a freshwater lake. And so where does the term sea come from? Right. Which is an important question to ask. And so this is these are the four different names that it has in the gospels. So different gospel writers have different ways that they like to talk about this freshwater lake. So some of them call it the Sea of Galilee. So the sea here and the sea of Tiberius, meaning more the open body of water. So sea in the ancient mind is Yarm sea is any kind of a body of water that you can't control. It's not a river, it's not a spring, it's not living water, it's not a wadi, it's another body of water. So then called a sea or Lake Tiberius or Lake of Nazareth. All of these are different terms, so it's just a lot more modern day. We only use the term Sea of Galilee, where in biblical times they felt fine using any other term to describe it as well. The Lake of Nazareth comes from one of the primary cities that sits on the northwestern side of the Sea of Galilee. So there's an Old Testament city called Kinneret and Goodness Ganesh here at Durga. A.R. is the the New Testament city that is very close by. Kinneret, which is over here. Kinneret or in Hebrew, it means heart. And when you look at the Sea of Galilee, it actually looks like an ancient harp, the shape of a harp. So it's also the the name of the city, as I said. And this city is important because this is the city that anyone who is coming on the international road and again, this line probably should be blue to to follow the pattern that I'm trying to ingrain in you. But this international road would come down to connect it to a Kinneret and then go north and continue on its way to Aram Damascus, just to tie together the scenery that we've already seen. So if we go from the Jezreel Valley and if you're crossing the middle of the valley on that little swelling, the uplift of basalt that runs across the center of the Jezreel Valley, you would go around Mount Tabor on the eastern side of Tabor, on the eastern side of the Nazareth Ridge, by the horns of her team. So here are the horns of a team, that volcanic cone responsible for all the basalt in our area. You come around it and then you pass through the cliffs of our bell and you come down onto this very large, beautiful, open plane. And this open plane again, like all the plains, all the valleys in this area are filled by just deep with lush, lush soil. We're going to talk about our friend Josephus, who loves this area so very much. He already described upper and lower Galilee how anyone who is slothful can't help but work the land because it's so easy. But now he's going to talk about this area around Ginza. It he says now this lake of Ginza it is so called from the country adjoining it. So the area, the plain that is around the city of Ginza, right on the edge of the sea. Its breath is 40 furlongs and its length is 140. So for us that's roughly eight miles across at its widest bit. 12 miles long at its longest bit. Its waters are sweet and very agreeable for drinking. The lake is also pure, and on every side ends directly at the shores and at the sand. It is also of a temperate nature. When you dried up, you can hear this perfection theme that is going. Everything about it is perfect. Now, when the water is kept in the open air, it is cold as that snow which the country people are accustomed to make by night in summer. And then if we continue on, there are several kinds of fish in it. Both are different, both to the taste and the sight from those elsewhere. In other words, we have the most magical, most amazing and unique fish. No, you can't find these anywhere. Me? You know, it's he loves his country. It is divided into two parts by the River Jordan. Its nature is wonderful as well as its beauty. Its soil is so fruitful that all sorts of trees can grow upon it, particularly walnuts, which require the coldest air. There are palm trees also which grow best in hot air recipes going. Even the things that shouldn't grow in the same spot can't help but grow in friendship and harmony together. The fig trees also in olives grow near them, which yet require an air that is more temperate. Right. All of this is this plane of going it that he is talking about. So here is just the top edge of the Sea of Galilee over here. And we're almost picking up. This is the tallest hill that is in Lower Gilliard. So I'm Gilliard, Lower Galilee. So just beyond that would be the Beit McCambridge that takes us to Upper Galilee, because you can just see how amazing and how beautiful that plane is. He continues. Wynette may call this place the ambition of nature, where it forces those plants that are naturally enemies to one another to agree together. It supplies men with principal fruits, with grapes and figs, continually tend during ten months of the year and the rest of the fruits as they become ripe together through the whole year. Right. Like it's so dramatic. You just can't help but love. Joseph is a little bit more based on his reflections here. For beside the good temperature of the air, it is also water from the most fertile fountains. So speaking of some of the natural springs that are in the area, so let's take a look, a horizon line, look around the Sea of Galilee. So, of course, looking down on to that plane we were just looking at moments ago, through the cliffs of our bell and the horns of a team. And if we're we're going to continue moving our head to the left. So we're going to be going south a little bit towards the west and south. Christopher Bell over here. You can see it's almost a straight edge. Not quite. There's texture in the land, but we have this nice shoreline here. It's not very wide before it dips down into the water. If we look directly south, we can see the break of the Rift Valley. And you're looking straight down there. You can never see Bay Sean down there, but you're looking in the direction of shine. And if you continue to swivel your head, you're picking up the hills of the shine. So we're starting to kind of make our way back to where we started, the Yarmuk, which is our river that creates the division on the south end of Bishan. The Yarmuk drains this way just on the south side of the Sea of Galilee. So we're picking up the Golan or Bashar, an ancient Bashan heading north. And then we continue moving our head one more time and we can see almost all the way around. So from one location in just kind of turning your body, you can see almost the entire shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. And there are so many things that have happened in this arena, so you can just kind of watch it all play out. Okay. So it's quite an expansive horizon line, as you saw. Like the distance that you can see is quite far. And I should say this to you, since we looked at the Jezreel Valley and we also did a horizon line look around the Jezreel. We talked about Jesus being here, looking at all the stories. We looked at how open this area is around Beit Shine. Now we're hanging out around the Sea of Galilee, and I would ask you to kind of pull up in your mind's eye memory of what the pictures looked like around Jerusalem. And just compare in your mind the difference between growing up in Jerusalem and if you remember, it was like the hills that surround Jerusalem. There was like a almost feels like you're down inside of a bowl where your horizon line is very, very short. And we talked about how that affects the people who are living there. And just compare that to people either living in Nazareth around the Jezreel, just up here in Galilee, who can look all the way around the Sea of Galilee and see all the coming and going and the ships that are going across you just because your horizon line is just so much bigger, more expansive. There is something about always being on an international road with horizon lines that are far away that just make you open to the influences around you. They make you more curious about the people who are approaching you instead of skeptical about the people who are approaching you. So it is an interesting thing to think about the concept of Jesus not only growing up here holding the majority of his ministry here, but how did the crowds react to him when he was teaching here versus how did crowds react to him when he was in Jerusalem? There's an interesting there's a a religious context that is interesting. But I would suggest, because I really do think the geography is also influencing the people in those places. Some are more open to change. Some, like those who are up in Galilee, are just accustomed to things changing around them. And I just think people were a lot more curious. And so more crowds were willing to come and just kind of go. What do you think about that? What do you what do you have to say? Like, I just kind of listen in anticipation of the news that he has to bring. I feel a question. 


Speaker 2 [00:11:16] Do you think there's also a difference between a rural and an urban mindset to I mean, the geography is different, but just the idea of living in an urban setting with all the activity and all of the different things that go on in a rural context where you're in tune more with the land and you're thinking about things that are practical and how they work, and more organic relationships because they're necessary to survive in a or in a rural place where they're not as necessary in an urban context. 


Dr. Parker [00:11:55] Yeah, I'm really glad you asked the question, because I think the way we distinguish those things in modern day is not an exact parallel to back then. So in modern day it is so distinct the urban versus rural, like they are worlds apart and they do not understand each other. It's the connection to land, like you said, is such an important one. The watching, the seasons, the practical, urban landscapes don't facilitate that as much. But I would say in the ancient world, everyone lived based on subsistence living, so everyone was connected to the land. So it doesn't matter if you're urban or not. There's a recognition of I'm harvesting this year what I'm eating this year. Now, trade might be going out in wider directions, and only if you're the elite of the elite do you have that kind of expendable income, I suppose, to get those luxury goods. The majority of people, even during like New Testament times, when Rome is in control, when we're here, they're still just kind of making it day by day by day. Plus, the taxation that Rome is putting on people is so stringent and so hard that like, let's say you are a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, you pull up ten fish. Rome gets eight of them. Right? Your family gets two. So there's really no room to create the buffer. So you might be in an area where a lot of people have congregated, but you're still land oriented. So in in that way, I would say the geography is probably has a bigger influence on them. Yeah, I think modern day, the distinguishing between urban and rural is so much more dramatic. But I would say it's still there, right? Because urban environments are still going to bring a mixture of people to a much higher degree than a village context would. Yeah. On the northern side of the Sea of Galilee. There's a really interesting break in the Rift Valley. The whole time we've looked at the Rift Valley, it's just been big, wide and open. There is one block and it is of basalt, said the volcanic activity either up here on Bishan. I don't think we can actually attribute any of it to the horns of a team, so I think it's all related to the volcanoes that are up here. There is a huge plug. It's called the Roche Pinus Sill and it sits in the Rift Valley, creating a rectangular plug. And it stops right at the Sea of Galilee. It's a little bit like a cork in a bottle, and so it completely breaks are usually we can just see clearly all the way up and all the way down the Rift Valley. This is the only place that we can't do that because of that and because the Rift Valley continues up here to the Hula Valley, the water that is going to collect in the Hula Valley has nowhere to go because it's stopped by the Rosh Pina. So, so on the southern side of the Hula Valley, historically, and a lot of the ancient maps will actually show swampy land. Some of them even show a lake over here because all of that extra water that is collecting ultimately over time, the water found a way to escape right between the Roche penis sill and the rest of Bashan. So it has etched this little passage way for itself, and it comes south and it enters the Sea of Galilee and fills the Sea of Galilee from here. Now, the Sea of Galilee has a whole bunch of freshwater springs that are also pouring water into the sea, and it's also collecting runoff water from all over the place. So there's there's a lot of resources for the Sea of Galilee, but the Jordan is entering here and the Jordan River exits on the far south side. So Josephus made mention of how the Jordan cuts the lake in half into two parts. This is what he means. So it exits on this side and then continues down until it hits the Dead Sea. So. Oh, here we go. The Roche penis. Oh, see, I was already prepared for all of these contexts. If I had just paid attention. So this is what it looks like. This is standing at the far north end of the Roche penis cell. So we're on this. These would be the hills of Bouchon on this side. This is the very last part of the Roche penis. So and way down here at the bottom is the beginnings of the Jordan River forming one river and snaking its way over here. And in the distance, in the little fuzz of the horizon line, there is the Sea of Galilee. So sometimes looking more like this, actually, this this part of the river is actually right before it dumps into the Sea of Galilee. When we are looking at the different communities that are forming around the Sea of Galilee, if we focus on Israelite narratives, we actually don't see that many narratives around the Sea of Galilee. The Hebrew Bible kind of ignores this area. It's the northern part of where the Israelites lived, and there's not a whole lot of attention given to this body, not nearly like the New Testament narratives where we're here, we're sitting here along the shorelines. Almost on every page. It feels like we do have a few cities. Well, Kinneret, of course, because this is the are touched down and swivel point for our international road we will jump up and talk a little bit about Hotspur in one of our future lessons as we turn and focus further to the north. So hot sauce here in hot sauce is a very significant city as it is guarding the road and the everyone who is traveling to the north, we do right on this like very close actually to where the Jordan River is coming into the Sea of Galilee. There's an ancient site here that we think is Gesher, and Gesher is not any kind of dominant city in the Bible. But we do have King David, who marries a woman from Gesher. Which is a curious thing because you have to go, well, what is he? What's the political strategy there? Like, what is he doing? There's no like, we don't get any of the narratives around that. It's just Davis goes out and marries this woman from Gesher. The geography might suggest that he's trying to make sure that he has some sort of political alliance up here, creating a boundary between him and whatever's coming at him from the Bashan. So it's hard to know, but out of this marriage alliance, we get Absalom and Absalom. It's interesting when we look at Absalom and the conflict with David and all the drama happening with Absalom. When Absalom ran from David, he came up here. He's like, he's going back to Mom's house to kind of hang out a little bit with relatives until he goes back to Jerusalem and decides he's going to try to take the kingdom from his dad. We have a battle that happens at Afek. This is that when the Israelite nation has already split into two to the northern kingdom of Israel is the one who is here at Ethic. And they are, not surprisingly, fighting with Aram Damascus. Here, the battle doesn't go so well for the Israelites here. But that's that's about all we have. A lot of stories have to do with Beit Schon and the Jezreel and more stories I have to do up here. But the Hebrew Bible is somewhat silent when it comes to that middle arena. Everything changes. The context completely changes during New Testament times first century. So during the first century, the city of Tiberius is being built. It hasn't been built yet, but it's in the process. So Herod Antipas, one of Herod's sons, who is the one who is in control of Galilee, and then that odd shape area down in the south, he decides that because Tiberius is now Caesar, that he will build a city and name it after the Caesar. It's always a good way to get into their good graces. So he's in the process of building this. So a big massive construction site is happening on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, which is probably one of our most well-known cities around the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum becomes the place that Jesus turns into his home base when he is in his public ministry. But Sader is in a different political unit, but also just right up here along the shoreline. But Sator was in a Jewish fishing village, later turned into a polis, into a Greek or Roman city. So Betsy is here. We have lots of miracles that happen in Betsy to and right around the shoreline on this eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, up on a very prominent hill that is almost an island. It's connected in the back by a spur. We get a city of hippies. This becomes a de capital. A city. Massive, huge, nicopolis city. We actually could continue to get. I could just keep naming places. Magdala where Mary Magdalene is from. We have Kazeem, which is up here. We have Kersey, which might be one of the places of Jesus casting the demons into the pig's that's there. I mean, there's like all these places and there's so many stories that happen here, and we probably know so much more about these New Testament stories just because we're focused so much on Jesus, who is very focused on this area. So we're going to let's go ahead and draw in the road. This road I've drawn, it's slightly different than all the the Hebrew Bible roads. When I was doing the Hebrew Bible. Let's see if I can go back to that. Do you see how with all the different cities that we know of, I have always been, in fact, very consistently throughout this whole course, drawing the international road on the western side of the Rift Valley. It's because it connects every major, important Old Testament or Israelite city. And so we can just follow, follow where we know the cities are and the road has to be connecting them. Now, in the first century, things had shifted and changed. We now have Capernaum. We now have that SATA. We also have Zechariah Philippi, which is directly north. And so we would assume, because of where all the significant cities are, that it's actually going to bend the international road around the north side of the sea and up the left side of the Rift Valley. But that's like a technicality that those of us who study geography get a little irritated when people draw their roads incorrectly. Okay. If we're going to focus on Capernaum and if we're thinking of the fact that Jesus chooses to base his ministry out of Capernaum, we should ask the question Why? I mean, why does this become the place? Why not Nazareth? What is different about Capernaum? Who's there? What is going on? So let me show you a little bit more detail about Capernaum. If we were to look at an aerial shot, then this is the full site of Capernaum. This right here is the site everyone goes to visit. But this entire thing is Capernaum. So it's just modern day owned by different churches. The Franciscans have this, and most of the archeology has been done here. The Greeks own this land and there's been a limited or I shouldn't sweep so high. It's this. And not as much archeology has been done over on the Greek land, but this whole entire area was Capernaum. And just like the modern day road comes up here just on slightly higher ground, staying away from the actual city itself. The ancient road probably did the same. That international road went very close by, but not right exactly on it. And then, of course, we notice as well, Capernaum is right on the water. And so this would be suggestive of the type of industry that is at Capernaum, which has to include fishermen. Now because of the Roche penis cell that block the plug that is in the Rift Valley, that is kind of creating the northern shoreline on which Capernaum is. If that is all basalt and true enough, when we go and we examine Capernaum, everything is built out of basalt. But we also have all of these agricultural implements here. So this right here is a stone. Normally it would have a post going through the hole there and an animal on the other end. And as the animal walks around, this big basalt stone crushes the olives that are in the little basin here. So this is the first step of pressing olives is just crushing them. We have the base over here for what would have been used as the press for the olives. And that's here. In the background, these two pieces belong together. And those together are an industrial size, grain grinding implement where you put this bigger piece on top of that small piece. A post is attached on either end, you put the grain in the top, and as you spin the top basalt piece, it grinds and grinds and grinds the grain until it comes out down in the bottom. Now, what's funny is, even if you look just in this courtyard where they've collected all these implements, they're too big and there's too many of them for everyone in Capernaum to need. These, which has been suggested that this was probably an industry at Capernaum, is people were taking a natural resource saying this is the best, you can't like this is the high end olive grinder, right? So for other communities that can afford it, this would be an export item that would go out to people who don't have access to basalt. This is also kind of funny enough, maybe since I'm showing you this picture. Let me read a tongue in cheek passage. And this one is in the book of Matthew. Matthew in Matthew. Jesus is in Capernaum. Matthew 18. Jesus and the disciples are in Capernaum. They're talking to a crowd. Or Jesus at least is talking to a crowd. And in verse one, it says, At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And he called a child to himself and set him before them and said, Truly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child. He is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in my name receives me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. And that's good using your environment to teach, right? Not only that, but if you examine the Greek, that is use the millstone. Because we have I've shown you pictures of the small hand mill, also basalt, you know, and you just, like grind it like this. That's a different word from this millstone. And when Jesus is talking to this crowd, he uses this word. Right? Like it's so it's like overly dramatic. That's how much Jesus means at one. Can you if you can even pick this sucker up, like pick this up hanging around your neck, go over there, jump into the sea and see what happens. Right. It's an example that speaks to everyone in his area. Okay. So another aerial view of Capernaum. And again, you can see how all of the houses these are all the foundations of houses all around the side. All of these are made out of basalt. They probably use plaster to coat the basalt stones and then create a white wall. Otherwise it would be way too hot in the city. We see a couple of other things here. One quite dramatically. This is a very large fourth century synagogue, some people say second, but I think it's probably closer to a fourth century synagogue. Notice the color of this rock. It's a white. This is limestone built in a basalt area, which means in the second or the fourth century, when they built the synagogue, they imported all the rock for the synagogue. Talk about an expensive project. Now in Israel, any time we have a synagogue that is in really good shape like this, we never destroy it. It always stands because it's so important to have the markers and to watch Jewishness and Jewish building and archeology. Hard to watch it change and transform over time. So we would never destroy that. But it is Capernaum and we're really curious, aren't we? Like Jesus is in the synagogue of Capernaum all the time. He is teaching in that synagogue. And so people have always been very curious. So what about the synagogue during the time of Jesus? How big would it have been? Because this one is really quite large. And so what they ended up doing instead of tearing this down was they just dug along the foundations on the side of the synagogue. And sure enough, at the base of this limestone white synagogue, we have layers and layers of basalt stones creating a different foundation. We also have it down over here. You can see the basalt as it comes out. Not quite as wide, but it's coming out, right? So then people started going, Ooh, it is the basalt. Is it just the foundation? Or is or is that the first century, the earliest synagogue of Capernaum? So then the archeologist went inside the synagogue and said, Well, we still have the paving stones right on the inside, but maybe if we just tear up one section of the floor, let's see what's underneath it. So they pull up the limestone and they look down. And as they're carefully doing the examination and digging out some of the loose dirt, they find a whole bunch of first century Roman coins in the floor. Coins are fabulous because they changed all the time. They were used as propaganda for whichever emperor happened to be in charge who would change the face of the coin. And so they're quite easy to date the coins. And so if you have a coin and it's on the floor, you know, whatever is below that coin, that coin has to be. Older than right the floor that is below it. And so it has led us to think the basalt. Foundations that are also extremely large were the foundations for the first century synagogue that Jesus would have taught in, which speaks to the wealth of the community that lived here, that was able to support the building of such a synagogue. Now, I'm not saying the first century synagogue was also limestone. It could have been basalt. We just don't have it. We only have the foundations. That's it. Now also in a really wonderful and interesting way, this really odd roof that is down here is the modern day Franciscan Church. There was a previous church that was there and they wanted to remodel it. But like, as you always do when there's a construction project, you always very carefully look at the soil below the building. And as they did, they were able to find a first century home that had been designated by a wall as something different than what was in the community. And on top of that was a fifth century church. So we think that is probably marking the home of Peter who lived in Capernaum. And in a very clever way of building when they wanted to continue the tradition of preserving that space and building a church. But they didn't want to ruin the archeology. Instead, they built this entire entire church up on stilts. So it has all of these columns and it makes it sit up high so you can go right to the edge of the church and see down below. Or you can go into the church and the entire shape of the church slopes down to the middle where there's a plexiglass. So you can look straight through to the first century home and you can feel the ancient connection to the modern connection of being in our best guess of where Peter's house would have been. So given all of these things we can say it was probably quite a diverse community. Who is in Capernaum given all these clues? There's fishermen. Oh, and by the way, Jesus called several fishermen to be his disciples. There's a lot of agricultural work. Oh, and Jesus uses agriculture all the time in his parables. So he's kind of speaking the language of the crowd. There's a very large synagogue, and Jesus is often not only teaching in the synagogue, but interacting with synagogue officials. He also interacts with a Roman centurion who helped fund the first century synagogue in Capernaum. Who else do we have? Oh, there's an international road. There's probably people coming and going on the international road all the time, coming and seeing and taking gossip here and there. And if we are to remember. Well, show this picture and we'll talk about the words in a moment. We looked at this a little bit earlier. Capernaum is here. This is one political region. Herod Antipas belongs to a political region of Galilee. But right next to you, this is right where the Jordan River comes into the Sea of Galilee. We're in another political region called Golan Heights. Any time you cross one political region to another, guess who's sitting there? Soldiers and tax collectors. Oh, and by the way, Jesus left Capernaum. And as he traveled along the road, he saw Matthew, the tax collector, sitting in his booth and he said, Huh, why don't you come follow me? Right. So there's there's a lot of really interesting people and things that are going on here. Okay. So if we were since we've looked at this, let's let's kind of spend a little bit more time here. We were looking at how this is one political unit, even though we have three very different types of people, groups who are living here, but it's one political unit. If we were to describe the area of Judea with Jerusalem at the core. You know, we were looking at those mountains, the ridges. We're looking at all these things, creating those conservative type views, maybe a population that isn't going to change very quickly based on any new interpretation of scripture. Plus, you have Jerusalem and the temple, which is like the ivory tower of all learning. And so you have people who are neck deep in theological debates, who are hanging out in Jerusalem. They're not going to so easily let anyone get by with a lame argument. It's mostly a Jewish area. I mean, Jerusalem is somewhat of a Helen ized city, but it is it's Jewish. We have the temple that is here and the area of Judea is quite conservative. We already mentioned how because of the Babylonian exile, it was the Judeans, a geographical term who go into exile and are then called Jews when they come back, even though not all Jews come back. So in Greek you diyos. When we hit this word, we can interpret it as Judean geographical or Jew religious, ethnic. Like how you know, it's the Jewish people or Judean people, which is quite specific to here. Now, you may remember when I said Herod Antipas controls Galilee. I said, He gets Galilee and he gets Perea, because these areas were very similar culturally. They're almost all Jewish. They have great, big, huge Roman cities. So there's like corridors of a Hellenistic influence. But it is a Jewish community. So here's where I want to flag something to you so that you can be aware and you can test your Bibles and test the interpretation of your Bibles. In John Chapter seven and the Book of John. The Gospel of John has been called anti-Semitic. There's a lot of people who don't like it because John is constantly going the Jews, the Jews, big, broad brush strokes in ways that seem. They're not always great. The term the the the adjectives that are used are not always great. But here's one of those things where I would say, I think this is actually a matter of translation more than anything. In John Chapter seven. So we're skipping all of the the big important drama. It says after these things, Jesus was walking in Galilee. Okay, so Jesus has been down here. And so now they're saying Jesus is up here in Galilee, for he was unwilling to walk in Judea, which in that case is Judas. Because the something you do cos we're seeking to kill him. Is it Jews or Jordanians? That's your option. Every Bible translator has the same option. It's one or the other. Which one do you choose? Almost every Bible chooses Jews. And when you read this, you're like the Jews globally hate Jesus. But he's walking in Galilee. He didn't want to walk here. Who's living here? It's all Jews. So he wouldn't choose to go up to Galilee and walk around if the Jews were trying to kill him. Do you see? He goes up to Galilee where a horizon line is large, where people are more accustomed to new ideas, where people are more about the discussion. Maybe not so much the ivory tower of Learning. And so when he's in Galilee, there's a freedom of movement he does not have when he's down here. In this case, I am 100% convinced John seven one should read after these things. Jesus was walking Galilee Galilee, for he was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Judeans were seeking to kill him. That is what makes total sense. So you should always just in your mind just file it away as a little aside. So as you're reading, you should go, oh wait, is this Judea a territory or Jews, the people? And ask yourself if you can tell by the text. Okay. So back to the Sea of Galilee, the area of Galilee. Let's kind of zoom in a bit and look again at at the shoreline, keeping in mind this bigger scope. How we have this whole huge, massive area of the nicopolis, we have all of Golan Heights that Phillip is in control of. The capital is all Hellenism, Galilee is all Jewish with a couple of big Roman cities here and there. So let's zoom in to that little shoreline where we were able to stand on the shore and look all the way around the lake. And think back and look at where Capernaum is located. And Capernaum has this access to three different political zones. So another. Why did Jesus move his political or his ministry to Capernaum? What is the strategy behind this? Well, look, if he has access to. Jews. Helena ized population they completely colonized with no Israelite story anywhere. And this mixture of people that live all through Golan Heights. So right around the shoreline of one little lake, you have three very different types of world view. And if we just think of this is something the gospel never tell us. We're just assuming by looking at the geography, doing that kind of interpretation. There's something about Jesus taking his disciples here, basing his ministry here. And if we follow Jesus, he's constantly going into one territory, into another. Back home. Back over here. Back over here. He's interacting with basically the microcosm of the entire Roman Empire. It's all right there around the sea. So there's something about Jesus training His disciples for after himself. So yes, when he says, Go take this gospel and spread it, and you're going to have to go into all parts of the earth. He's not giving them an impossible task where they're left completely unsure as to what to do. He has already marked out for him how to interact with the Hellenized people. How do you interact with zealots? How do you interact with Jews? And in Jerusalem? How do you interact with officials? He's already demonstrated for them how to do this, which I think is a really beautiful thing. 


Speaker 2 [00:43:49] Well. And with the transportation at that time, it gives them a lot of easy access to because they can go by boat instead of having to walk every place. 


Dr. Parker [00:44:00] Absolutely. And I was going to talk about this later. But based on your comment, which I think is really, really good. There's a term used all the time in the Gospels. Jesus and the disciples get into a boat and they cross to the other side. And sometimes we think, Oh, from one east or west to east or north to south. And even though this is a small body of water, it still is open to sudden storms because the wind and the clouds coming off the Mediterranean are still coming over lower Galilee, maybe even funneling through those east west valleys, but they still come to the Rift Valley and then like slap the water. Right, which then immediately can like turn up a storm and it can be a surprise storm. So people very rarely crossed the center of the sea. You kind of hug the shoreline and just kind of make it in this way. The term crossing to the other side can be going from Capernaum, Tibet, say to it's still on the north side. It means you went from one political unit to another. So any time they cross to the other side, they're really just crossing into a new political unit. And so you can kind of watch them. They actually hover this northern shoreline. Most of their activity is up here. Oh, you know, I have to say this, too. Based on that question. Let's say you're a fisherman like Peter or the sons of Zebedee, and you spend so much time fishing. You have to fish at night because the nets you use are big and heavy. They're made out of cotton at that time. And so you have to make sure that the fish can't see anything or get scared. And so you go out when it's calm, usually like late at night, you pulling your catch, you pull it ashore. You had to spend all day mending your nets, getting ready for that night when you fish again. Now, if you're Jewish, there are kosher fish and non-kosher fish. And so part of the sorting process is kosher fish, non-kosher like we can't eat these, we can't eat these. So what do you do with the non-kosher fish? You don't throw them back into the water because that was an awful lot of work to get those fish. These guys, though, they'll eat anything because they don't have the same kosher laws. So it works its way into the trading. So we end up you know, they're all neighbors. They have different ways of life, but they're all they're going to make use of the trade routes that are here. Okay. So why move from Nazareth to Capernaum? For all the reasons we've said, we've also we didn't really talk about well, we sort of did Nazareth being a really small, conservative, small little village here. It's not on any kind of primary road. It looks at the primary roads, but it's not on a primary road. Everyone here is Jewish. No one's going to run across you. It's of like mind. You head right over here and there's diversity at your doorstep. And here everyone runs into everyone. And Jesus is on the primary international road. Everything and everyone is coming through a wide variety of people, groups that he has access to. There's also, if I may, draw your attention to a little portion out of Isaiah nine that we read before. You may remember in Isaiah nine, there was reference to the land of Zebulon, which is here. In the land of Naftali, which was the very large they had that very large inheritance which was up here, and how by the time of Isaiah, the Assyrians had already come in and pretty much demolished. Naftali Demolished Zebulon. And so there was that. They were the first to see the great darkness. Right. But then hope of something else that is yet to come. Well, Matthew, who knows his Bible very well, looks at this movement of Jesus and go, Huh? Well, that's interesting, because Isaiah already made reference to something like this, and maybe Jesus moving from Nazareth to Capernaum is actually to fulfill what Isaiah said. And so Matthew tells us in Chapter four and leaving Nazareth, he came and settled in Capernaum. He started in Zeppelin's Territory and ended up in Naftali territory. So Capernaum, which is by the sea in the region of Zebulon and Naftali, this was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the Prophet. Now, Isaiah was not talking about Jesus. You know, Isaiah had a message for his own time. That was a promise to the king at that time. Matthew is just going, but the pattern also works here, which is very exciting. And he says he's quoting the prophet now, the land of Zebulon and the land of Naftali, by the way, of the sea, beyond the Jordan. Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death upon them, a light has dawned and Matthew says, Why did Jesus make the move? Because Jesus was the light. And because these two tribes that were the first to experience the extinguishing of Assyria are going to be the first to see the light that Jesus has to bring. Thank you, Matthew. That is a very beautiful connection. Okay. What else about this hanging out in Capernaum? This is another little bit that I like to think about when I think about Jesus in the context in the geographical area of Capernaum, with all that diversity at his as his at his disposal. And then we just take a look at the people who are following Jesus around, of which there's a large collection. There's men and women, old and young. But the disciples. Let's look at the disciples. So Matthew gives us a list of who's who. Now, the names of the 12 apostles. Are these the first Simon, who is called Peter Andrew, his brother, and James, the son of Zebedee and John, his brother, all fishermen. Philip and Bartholomew. We don't get a whole lot out of them. Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector. Now, that's interesting because the fishermen have been paying taxes. Roman taxes, remember, collect ten fish, pay eight fish to Rome. So you're like, how did those fishermen think about Matthew? What didn't you know? What was that interaction like? Oh, and then we get James, the son of Alpheus and Thaddeus, and then we get Simon the zealot. Now the zealots are developing. They're only gaining steam a little bit before the time of Jesus. But during this first century time, they are becoming a very popular group. And the zealots, their kind of battlecry was stop paying taxes. We are going to like resist Rome at every turn. God is going to redeem us. Okay. See, so now you have fishermen who are paying taxes but resentful. You have a zealot who is determined to overthrow Rome and you have Matthew who's collecting taxes on behalf of Rome party. He goes. How did those guys get along? And then, of course, we're going to have Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. We think the majority of these disciples all come from the Galilee area. Judas, there's debate. We don't actually know where he's from. Some are not sure if his surname here is. It's either a family name or it might be a location. And if it is a location, it could potentially be a hint towards Judea. He could be the only southern disciple. Maybe that's all just kind of a guess, but it's an interesting one. So I'd love to read this and then go for a hike and think about what happened along the road. Write Jesus and the disciples are always traveling somewhere. We focus on the narratives of what happened, where they were, and what happens when they get there. But what about the miles in between? Did anyone walk with Matthew? Or no? Was he ostracized? Did he have to win his way back in? All these different things I can't help but think about. And they have Jesus. They're facilitating that interaction between all of them. Like How do you create peace among different minded people? Just find all of that to be really astonishing. 


Speaker 2 [00:53:31] The best teachers are the ones that do as they teach. So just like Jesus was going to different areas of the country, he was actually doing it even in a smaller microcosm within the disciples that he chose just to show on a day to day basis. Okay. What is it like to live in community with people that you have differences, significant differences with? 


Dr. Parker [00:53:59] Yeah. In our modern world, we could use a lot more of that. But in the ancient world, they could use a lot more of that too. Right. Which is the Christian communities. The earliest of the Christian communities were kind of known for bringing together people who shouldn't be together and working it out. Not without problems, but they were kind of known for being that kind of weird people group. 


Speaker 2 [00:54:25] Even Jews and Gentiles. 


Dr. Parker [00:54:26] Jews and Gentiles, Samaritans and Jews. I mean, all. All of those things. It's quite. Yeah. It's quite fascinating. Yeah. Thank you. Okay. So we already covered. What does it mean to cross to the other side? But also, I would say understanding that this is the geographical context is very helpful for knowing what it is Jesus is doing, because we're we're just reading without a map. It's very, very strange. Jesus goes and heals people and says, Go show yourself at the temple. Or he goes and heals people and he's like, Don't tell anyone I did this. Or He makes some kind of stern is like. Or he'll go into a place and then as people are healed, he'll be like, Go home, tell everyone. You think that's very strange? What is going on? What Jesus is is changing his tune. What does that mean? And it makes perfect sense as soon as you put those events on the map, because when Jesus tends to be over here, at least when he's up here in Galilee. When he is here is when he is always telling people sh. Don't tell anyone. He. Now when there's another time he gets into the boat with the disciples and a storm hits as they're on the water. And when they come ashore, they're here. And he sees a demonic and he cast the demons into the pigs where they're pigs because it's hell a nice capitalist country. And when that guy wants to get in the boat, as all of us would want to do, escape our shame and experience within our own community. Jesus says, No, go tell everyone. And he refuses to let them come. Which makes you go, Jesus, that's really cruel. You should just let him follow you. Right. Go. But Jesus is going. No. Look, you have a voice in your community. Go tell everyone. So why don't tell anyone? Go tell everyone you know. Has everything to do with the Jews have a huge history. Right. They have their Israelite history. And because of their Israelite history, the writings of their profits, the events of recent days, the politics that they are experiencing and the hope they have for restoration, they are eagerly anticipating a messiah, and they are reading the signs of the day saying A messiah is going to come soon. Or at least we definitely all hope that. And when Jesus starts walking around, people are going, Wait. Are you? Are you the Messiah? Are you the Elijah figure or the Elijah figure? Are you just a prophet? Like, who are you there trying to figure it out? And Jesus is always going. One because he is the Messiah. But two, his version of being Messiah is different than what they're anticipating a messiah is going to do. And so he needs time to teach them his version of Messiah Ship, which is not really what they're anticipating. They're not anticipating anything. Rome's in charge. Rome has always been in charge. We love Rome being in charge. We have no concept of Messiah. We don't understand your religion. You don't eat certain foods. We don't get that right. There's nothing here that holds a political statement if Jesus were to be a messiah. And so when he comes here, he's like, Go tell everyone. And then by the signs I'll show you the greatness I have and the power I have over the spiritual world. Which is fine if we if we talk about the demonic guy because Jesus is pushed out of this area because people are afraid of him, afraid of what his power has symbolized for them. And the very next time Jesus comes to dictate bliss, thousands of people come to see him. Just makes you go. The power of the testimony of that dude who went and told people and maybe, maybe not all due to him. But there is something about him speaking well into his community, which I find really wonderful. Okay. So we have even more Jesus, who is often here teaching, interacting with people, being the skilled teacher that He is, was excellent at using what is on his horizon line to teach to the people so that they understand what he's saying. So, for example, if we stand on the northern shore, the Sea of Galilee, and more specifically, if we stand on a hill, it's outside Capernaum. This hill is the traditional spot of the Sermon on the Mount, but we don't really know because it really could be on lots of different places. The Gospels aren't so specific to give us an x marks the spot, but. X marks the horizon line for us. No matter which of the hills you choose, you end up with this horizon line. So at this particular one, one of the small cities we have on the horizon line is Magdala. So just north of Tiberius, which is in the process of being built down here. So Magdala is here. Magdala is a Jewish village on the sea. It has a harbor. So a fishing industry, most definitely. And as archeology has been done in Magdala, not only have they found one of the most spectacular first century synagogues ever, it's incredibly beautiful. But they also found a whole variety of shops in one of the shops. They have these square indentations. This is a holding tank for fish. So fish that are brought in and you fill this up with water, plaster it, fill it up with water, and then you have live fish. We also have a different section of this site where they think it was an area for salting fish. Right. And once you salt them, you can preserve them and then you can ship them out to other parts of the country that don't have access to fish. So sardines, in fact, are being one of the primary ones. Okay. So then you have Jesus standing on the hill and on his horizon line. This is on the Sermon on the Mount. And after he gives his Blessed Are section, he goes into another portion of teaching, which is very agricultural and very horizon line driven. So for instance. He says, you are the salt of the earth. And I always kind of imagine a little hand gesture towards Magdala. Right. Just like the salt that you know of over here that preserves the fish. Right. But you are supposed to be that way. You are the salt of the earth. And if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. That speaks well. So does this again. Same hillside, but exact opposite side of the Sea of Galilee. Looking into the Hellenistic Coppola's side, we're sitting on a hill very prominently hiding in the shade in the picture. But there's a nice plateau hill right here. This is where hippies or Sukita was located, which was a capitalist city, which was a huge, massive city on a hill. These large Greco-Roman cities that had massive Kardos huge roadways also had lanterns that lit the way at night. And look, it's like sitting up so prominently up on the horizon line, which makes me think that as Jesus was saying. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. And I can't help but think of the crowd's eyes naturally going. Oh, like that place? We see it all the time. It is prominent on our horizon line. It is out there shining all Rome has to offer us at all times of day, and especially at night when the light. Light shines brightly. And Jesus is saying, but you are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand. And it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven. I think it's amazing. There's lots of theological arguments about how how Jerusalem is the city set on the hill. And I'm like, I really think he's just he's borrowing from what he sees right here, and it speaks the loudest to people. And Jesus is going, you know, just like you can't help but see this place every night when it gets dark and the lanterns are that's how you're supposed to be. But be that way for me. Right or for God. Right. Let your actions speak that loudly. Okay. Now Tiberius is over on the far side, on the Galilee side. And so what about Tiberius? Well, it's being built, as I've mentioned. Now, this is Herod Antipas terrain. He's in charge of Galilee. Herod Antipas was known for being. Be grandiose in his dreams for building. He had a flair for greatness. He hoped that he could build better and bigger than he really could. And so there were a couple of different times. Herod Antipas set out to build something and then ran out of money. And in this case, in Tiberius, there is one such thing. There was a tower that was supposed to be this large tower built on the water, and he ran out of money. And so the construction had halted until he could get money again and they could finish building. And so a little bit later, this is now in Luke and we still have Jesus in Galilee and we don't know exactly where he is, but he's teaching crowds and he's talking about discipleship and how discipleship is not an easy thing. And you really should think about it before you commit to it. And he says, for which point of view, when he wants to build a tower, say, does not first sit down and calculate the costs to see if he has enough to complete it right. Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish all who observe it to begin writ or begin to ridicule him, saying this man began to build and was not able to finish. And don't you just know everyone in the crowd is going like ready? He just she's here with Jesus said he's not mentioning carried into fists, but we all know he's talking about Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas. I'm sure he was probably a charming person, but he made foolish mistakes, like falling in love with his brother's wife. So Herod. Philip was married. Herod Antipas decides he'd rather be married to her. Then his current wife, who happens to be a now Betty and princess, who has a very, very wealthy, powerful now beauty and king as a father. Now, Herod Antipas is going to have to divorce her in order to marry the wife he really wants to marry. And the NABU team princess hears rumors that he is going to do so. And so she runs home to Dad, who has been looking for a reason to go to war with Herod Antipas because he does not like that fool. And so he is ready to go to war over the humiliation he is causing his family. Sure enough, Herod Antipas goes out to fight the Novotny and King, who is way stronger. And Herod Antipas has to retreat tail between his legs. Jesus continues his teaching or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he's strong enough with 10,000 men to encounter the one coming against him with 20,000. Or else why? While the other so far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. It's so great. There's so many times when as long as you know the history and as long as you see the horizon line of where Jesus is, you just think, Oh, he is so funny. And he's jabbing at politics. And he's also teaching people the correct way of interpreting their world and the way that God wants it to be designed. It is brilliance.