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GENNESARET (gĕ-nĕs'a-rĕt)

GENNESARET gĕ nĕs’ ə rət (Γεννησαρέτ, G1166). A small plain located on the W side of the Sea of Galilee.


The name Gennesaret should be associated primarily with the area mentioned in two NT references (Matt 14:22; Mark 6:45). After feeding the 5,000, Jesus’ disciples crossed over the Sea of Galilee to Bethsaida (6:45), then crossed back again (6:53) and came to land at Gennesaret. Sometimes, however, the name is not restricted to the district, for Luke speaks of the lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1), referring to the Sea of Galilee (cf. 1 Macc 11:67, Jos., Antiq. XVIII. ii. 1; War III. x. 7). In this usage, the name of the lake derives from the name of the plain. A small town in the area also bore the name Gennesaret. Some sources read “Gennesar.” E. G. Kraeling, on the basis of the Aram. and Josephus, thinks the short form “Gennesar” would have been current in NT times. The Arabs call the little plain el Ghuwer.


It is a small plain bordering on the W shore of the Sea of Galilee between Capernaum and Magdala. The plain is about four m. long, running N and S along the sea coast, and up to about two m. wide.

The land is level, rising gently from the level of the Sea of Galilee, which is 650 ft. below the Mediterranean. Hills rise sharply on three sides. The main road from Capernaum to Tiberias runs through close to the sea shore.

During the time of Christ, this plain was the garden spot of Pal. Josephus eloquently described the beauty and fertility of the land (Jos. War III. x. 8). The soil was rich like that of the Nile delta. The climate ranges from hot to temperate. Plenty of water for irrigation was available from streams flowing out of the surrounding hills, and from several flowing springs. The land produced an abundance of wild trees and flowers, as well as important crops such as grapes, figs, olives, walnuts (Josephus), rice, wheat, vegetables, melons. The rabbis spoke of this plain as “the Garden of God” and a “paradise.” See Sea of Galilee.


Thomson, The Land and the Book, II, 293f.; Hastings, HDCG, I, 640, 641; E. G. Kraeling, Rand McNally Bible Atlas (1956).