The SEA OF GALILEE is the lowest freshwater lake in the world, as well as being the lowest spot on the planet at 686 feet below sea level. The lake is spectacular and bordered by the Golan Heights on the east and the mountains of Galilee on the west. This basin is part of the Syrian African Rift and is the clashing point for the winds from the Mediterranean and the winds from the desert. The clashing of the wind creates sudden storms just like we read about in Matthew 14. It was in the Galilee region Jesus walked on the water and spent a majority of his ministry.
Scripture calls CAPERNAUM "His own hometown". In Hebrew, Kfar Nahum means "Village of Comfort". Jesus comforted and touched many in Capernaum which was situated along the Via Maris trade route and on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. He healed the woman with the blood issue, the man with the withered hand, taught in the synagogue here and so much more. An ancient synagogue was uncovered with a base from the time of Jesus in Capernaum, as well as a Byzantine church surrounding the House of Peter.
The MOUNT OF BEATITUDES is also located just north of the Sea of Galillee. It has a spectacular view of the surrounding area, including the Sea, the Golan Heights and mountains of the Galilee. This is the traditional location of where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, the greatest sermon ever given. Today there is a beautiful Catholic chapel on the site commemorating the Beatitudes.
TABGHA means "seven springs" and it is here that seven springs pour into the Sea of Galilee. This water attracts many fish and in biblical times, it would have been an ideal location for fishermen. Jesus and the disciples would have been here many times. Here, we remember how he called his disciples to be fishers of men. "Come, follow Me, " Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." And at once they left their nets and followed Him. Matthew 4:19-20 At Tabgha, we reflect on John 21 and how Jesus reappeared to the disciples who had gone fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Two churches were erected in Tabgha commemorating the miracle of Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes and the Primacy of Peter.
TEL DAN is in the Galilee panhandle and was the northern border of Israel during biblical times. It was here that the tribe of Dan relocated in fear of the Philistines, along the beautiful Dan River. There are many springs at Dan forming the Dan River, which is the main water source of the Jordan River. Tel Dan is a beautiful and fertile reserve with hiking trails along the Dan River leading to the ancient ruins of Dan. It was also here and Bethel that Jeroboam erected golden calves and a sanctuary as an alternative to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Excavations here uncovered an arched Canaanite gate that Abraham could have entered.
NAZARETH was the childhood home of Jesus and was a very small village during this time. There is a church in the center of the town dedicated to the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. High on the cliff of MOUNT PRECIPICE there is a stunning view of the Valley of Armageddon, Mount Carmel and the entire area. After his synagogue speech, Jesus was led to the brow of a hill by the furious inhabitants of Nazareth. Scripture says they wanted to throw him off, but he disappeared in their midst. It is here that we remember the biblical event. At the foot of the Nazareth Mountain range is the village of Cana, site of the first miracle of Jesus when he turned the water into wine.
MEGIDDO is one of the chariot cities built by King Solomon. It was a very strategic location in biblical days, as it commanded the ancient trade routes below. Megiddo is mentioned several times in scripture and has significant archaeological ruins. The tel here boasts 26 different layers of civilization. There is an impressive 9th Century BC water tunnel from the time of Ahab that was uncovered. There is a spectacular view of the Valley of Armageddon where the armies will gather for the final battle mentioned in Revelations.
It was at the HAROD SPRING that Gideon chose his 300 men before his miraculous win over the Midianites. The Bet Shean Valley is also known as the Valley of Springs and the Harod spring is one of the many springs that can be found here in the valley. The Sachne Spring is also located in this valley. The striking blue waters of the spring and year round warm water temperature makes this one of the favorite swimming sites in Israel.
BET SHEAN was the capital of the Decapolis and a very strategic location commanding the ancient trade routes and the entrance from the east. It was here that the bodies of Saul and his sons were fastened to the walls by the Philistines after their conquest on Mount Gilboa. The tel has 18 superimposed layers of civilization. The ruins at Bet Shean are extensive.
The GOLAN HEIGHTS stretch from the southern side of the Sea of Galilee to MOUNT HERMON in the north. Mount Hermon is Israel's highest mountain at 9232 feet above sea level. It is called the "Eyes of Israel" due to its strategic location on the Syrian and Lebanese borders. Mount Hermon boasts the only ski resort in Israel. Mount Hermon is very likely the real Mount of Transfiguration. Nestled at the foot of Mount Hermon is CAESAREA PHILLIPI. The spring here is the source of the Banias River which leads into the Jordan River. It was here that the god Pan was worshipped in the Greek city of Panias. Later, Herod Phillip changed the name to Caesara Phillipi. Jesus came to this region and it was there that he entrusted Peter with the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.