Bethsaida -- By: S. B. Goodenow

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 045:180 (Oct 1888)
Article: Bethsaida
Author: S. B. Goodenow


S. B. Goodenow

The seeming discrepancy between Luke 9:10 and Mark 6:45, in their diverse mention of the “city called Bethsaida,” has occasioned considerable controversy first and last; which has been renewed by the recent Sunday-school lesson on the parallel passage in Matthew. The most common solution of the difficulty is, that two different cities of the same name are referred to by the two evangelists, cities not more than six or eight miles apart, on opposite sides of the Sea of Galilee near its head.

This will answer for an explanation, if no better can be found. But it is by no means fully satisfactory; and, since the Revised New Testament has opened up what appears to be a more probable solution, (which no one seems to have noticed,) I would here draw attention to it. A few facts must be taken into consideration.

I. The New Testament Bethsaida was in Galilee, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, and very near Capernaum, at one extremity of it as it stretched along the lake; very likely just over the promontory of Capernaum, on its northern side, as long ago indicated by Dr. Robinson. It was a sort of suburb of Capernaum, where people, engaged in the fishery or other business of Capernaum, could have their homes, passing readily from the one place to the other. For,—

1. We read at John 1:44, “Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.” And it was “Bethsaida of Galilee,” as said at 12:21. For which reason, Peter was called a “Galilean,” Mark 14:70; Luke 22:59. (As to Mark 8:22, 27, in the continual crossings of the sea about that time, they may as well have passed from their own home Bethsaida, on to Caesarea Philippi, as from the eastern side of the sea.)

2. At Mark 1:21 we read, “And they went into Capernaum, and straightway on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught. Ver. 29, “And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever.” Ver. 32, “And at even when the sun did set,…..all the city [of Bethsaida] was gathered together at the door.” Here plainly was a passing directly and at once from the synagogue meeting in Capernaum to their home, which we just learned was in Bethsaida. There was no great time spent on the way; nor did the Jewish law allow

much travel, for it was “on the Sabbath day,” and no issue was as yet raised on Sabbath observance.

3. Christ’s Galilean home, when driven from Nazareth, was evidently with these disciples, t...

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