Nazareth and Galilee

Taking a break in front of the Sea of Galilee

We stopped digging early, twice in the past week, so the group could spend the afternoon traveling to significant biblical and/or archeological sites in northern Israel.  First we visited Nazareth, home to the largest Arab population in Israel.  Most of the city residents are Christian but Nazareth is also home to a small but vibrant Muslim community. The focal point of our visit was the Church/ Basilica of the Annunciation, believed to be the site where the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus.  Beneath the church is a small grotto that contains what many Christians believe is remains of Mary’s childhood home.  While there, we attended a portion of the mass/worship service, which was conducted entirely in Arabic.

Later in the week we journeyed to Galilee, to retrace some of Jesus’ steps as recorded in the Gospels.  On the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, we visited Tabgha, the traditionally accepted site where Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:13-21).  In Tabgha, we stopped by the Church of the Multiplication, which was built over an ancient mosaic of the fish and loaves next to a large rock.   A combination of location and local tradition has led biblical scholars to believe that Jesus stood on or near this rock while blessing the fish and loaves prior to the miraculous multiplication.  Leaving the church, we passed the Mount of Beatitudes where it is believed Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.  The natural amphitheater formed by the hills sloping to sea help give life to the image of Jesus speaking to and teaching the multitudes.  Finally, we stopped at a local beach and waded and/or swam in the Sea of Galilee. A few tried walking on the water but it didn’t go so well. While many of the other sites we visited where in approximate and sometimes disputed locations, there is widespread agreement that this is the same body of water where Jesus and his followers fished, taught, and retreated to for solace.

We’re getting close to the end of our Archeology adventure. Before we return to the U.S., we’ll spend a few days touring the Jerusalem area and immersing ourselves in the local culture. 

Stone in the Church of the Multiplication, marked with a fish and loaves mosaic by the early Christians to commemorate Jesus’ feeding of the multitudes.

Christ Icon at the Church of the Multiplication    
Coming ashore after a stroll in the Sea of Galilee

Panoramic view from the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Modern shepherd, wearing hoodie and backpack, leading his flock across a bridge.

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