Ancient Harbors Of The Sea Of Galilee -- By: Gordon Franz

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 04:4 (Autumn 1991)
Article: Ancient Harbors Of The Sea Of Galilee
Author: Gordon Franz


Ancient Harbors Of The Sea Of Galilee

Gordon Franza

Jesus spent much time on and around the Sea of Galilee with His fisherman-disciples. These disciples, who gave up all to follow Him (Lk 5:11), were good sailors. They knew the lake and its harbors well. The Gospels often refer to their maritime activities and the harbors they used. Now, for the first time in recent history, information on the harbors used by Jesus and his disciples is coming to light. Sixteen harbors and anchorages have been identified and surveyed by Mendel Nun, a fisherman from Kibbutz EinGev (Nun 1989a). I am deeply indebted to him for sharing his wealth of knowledge concerning the lake and its history.

In this article I will discuss some of the lake’s ancient harbors and their implications for gospel geography. Five geographical “problems” will be examined. First, the place of the calling of the disciples (Tabgha, the fishing suburb of Capernaum — Mt 4; Mk 1; Lk 5; Jn 21). Second, the location of the casting of the demons into the swine (Gadara, the Kibbutz Ha’on harbor — Mt 8; Mk 5; Lk 8). Third, the location of the feeding of 5,000 (near the Aish Harbor, the probable fishing suburb of Bethsaida-in-Galilee — Mt 14; Mk 6; Lk 4; Jn 6). Fourth, the feeding of 4,000 (Kursi — Mt 15; Mk 8). And finally, the location of Magdala/Dalmanutha (Mt 15:38; Mk 8:10).

History of Research

In the past, explorers have searched in vain for Sea of Galilee harbors from the New Testament period. They have been unsuccessful because two millennia of wind and wave action has eroded the harbor superstructures. Only the foundations remain, and they were, until recently, hidden beneath the water.

Nun has determined that the lake varied between 209.5 and 210.5m below sea level in antiquity. In 1932, a dam was built at the southern outlet of the Jordan River allowing the maximum level to be controlled. It is normally maintained at -209 m. With the recent drought, however, the level has dropped to a dangerously low -213 m (Nun n.d.). Since ...

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