We started our day at Mount Arbel, some chose to hike up and some rode the bus and hiked to the lookout. It was a beautiful hike, with views of the sea of Galilee, but challenging in places and required some almost vertical climbing. Mount Arbel is the tallest mountain around the sea of Galilee. Probably the mountain where Jesus went to pray, (Matthew 15:22-27) as it’s high and has a view of the sea, and also where he gave the great commission in Matthew 28:16-20.
After Mount Arbel we went to Capernaum, name from Caphar (Village) of Nahum. Capernaum was a Jewish fishing village on the Roman road, and was the center of Jesus’ ministry after he was rejected in Nazareth. Here the woman with the issue of blood was healed, Jarius’ daughter raised, the 12 chosen, Peter’s mother-in-law healed, Matthew called, and many other things. Today we walked in a synagogue from the 3rd-4th century AD, built over the original synagogue where Jesus would have taught. We saw Peter’s house, the house of Jarius next to the synagogue, and a place for pressing olives. The newer synagogue has columns with inscriptions which seem to represent donors, and contain the family name “Zebedee”.
Next stop was lunch and a tour at Magdala, from Hebrew Migdal meaning tower. This synagogue and town were discovered in 2009 when construction began on a hotel/resort. Today the hotel is built around the ruins and the ancient synagogue is one of only seven found that date to Jesus’ time. As we know that Jesus taught in Galilee, He probably walked on this synagogue’s floor. Magdala was famous for building boats, it’s tower, (possibly used to store fish to be sold) and the story of Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus healed.
We visited a series of chapels built to celebrate the care of women in the life of Jesus and the church, including a very special one called “the Chapel of the Encounter” to commemorate the women who was healed by touching Jesus’ garment. We learned that “hem” is a slightly inaccurate translation, in the original language the word means the threads or tassels of his prayer shawl, the idea first appears in Malachi 4:2 with the word “wings”. Simply put, even the very very edge of Jesus’ clothing carries healing for us and He is Always near.
We finished our day with a tour through a museum that houses a boat found in 1986 that dates to the time of Jesus, and a ride on the Sea of Galilee. There was a lot of interesting information about how they saved the 2,000 year-old boat through a 9 year process and lots of chemicals. On the modern boat, Andrew and our guide both helped us to understand some of the illustrations Jesus used showing us a city on a hill, the proximity of a millstone producer to the lake, and what the other side of the lake meant. It was awe-inspiring to realize that we were on the waters where Jesus once walked and taught.