Israel Blog Day 3
The third day of touring in Israel was interesting and varied! Being that we are on the Sea of Galilee, we spent some time in that region. The Sea of Galilee is large, and Jesus and the Disciples spent lots of time around and on the Sea, itself.
Stop number one was at Mt Arbel. The cliffs of Arbel rise to 700 feet above sea level. By Washington State mountain standards, this is really low. But here in Israel, they tower above the Sea of Galilee, making for some fabulous views from the top! There are caves in the cliffs, some of which were used as forts during Roman conquest of the area.
We moved onto Migdal, which is on the Sea of Galilee. The modern-day story of Migdal is that it is a site where a new hotel was being built. As the contractors were digging out for the foundation, they came upon some ancient ruins. Whenever this happens, the contractors immediately stop digging and an excavation ensues. In this case, they found remnants of an ancient Synagoge and a first-century village. The place is named Migdal, for Mary Magdalene, and in addition to the excavated ruins, there is a Catholic-supported Church that is built to recognize Mary Magdalene and other women from the Bible.
We also saw the Mount of Beatitudes, today. To the best estimate of modern scholarship, the location we were, is most likely where Jesus gave his famous discourse of “Blessed are…” sayings, known as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). While the site isn’t anything extraordinary to look at, imagining Jesus speaking to the large crowd in that location, brings it into a new perspective.
We next went on to stop at what is believed to be the house of Peter, the Disciple. Yes, scholars and archaeologists really believe it was Peter’s house. That is an impressive thought, to be sure. It is located in Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee. There is a Catholic Church that was built upon the location of the house, pictured below. There are additional ruins up the hill from the house, and in the picture below, you can see where Roman-era development took place over the original site. Building upon previous settlements was quite common in the ancient world, as stones and bricks would be re-used rather than re-manufactured, which would have been quite labor-intensive.
Our final destination on the day was to a place set high above the northern point of the Sea of Galilee, a place known as Gamla. This has no relation to Biblical history, but it does play a role in Jewish history. During the Roman invasion of Israel, Gamla was a stronghold that it took the Roman invaders two times to overtake. The picture here, demonstrates some of the fortified bunkers that were used as outposts in the war.