Lake of Gennesaret

Lake of Gennesaret

Jesus Birthplace Sermon on the Mount
Lake of Gennesaret

Lake of Gennesaret, Galilee

Lake of Gennesaret is located in Israel 69 miles (110 km) north of Jerusalem. Named after the ancient town of Gennesaret - also called Ginosar - on its northwestern shore, Lake of Gennesaret is where the Bible says Peter fished and walked, at least until he took his eyes off Jesus, and where Jesus walked, preached, calmed the storm, and granted miraculous catches of fish.*

While it is a lake and not a sea, Lake of Gennesaret is also called the Sea of Galilee, as well as the Sea of Tiberias, named after the resort city of Tiberias that Herod the Great built on its western shore and named after Caesar Tiberias to endear himself to his Roman overlord.

Lake of Gennesaret is the largest body of fresh water in Israel and supplies fresh water to not only Israel but also to the neighboring country of Jordan. It lies about 700 feet below the sea level, which makes Lake of Gennesaret the world's lowest fresh water lake and the second lowest lake after the Dead Sea (The salt-laden Dead Sea, whose surface lies 1,300 feet below the sea level, is the lowest lake and the lowest point on the earth's surface).

Only 35 miles in circumference, Lake of Gennesaret / Sea of Galilee is small enough for a healthy adult to rent a bicycle and pedal around in a day. Local buses are also an option but many of the sites around the lake, including Tabgha, Capernaum and the Beatitudes Monastery, the supposed location of Sermon on the Mount, are hard to reach by local buses or bicycle, so those on a tight schedule and not on a tour bus may wish to consider renting a car.

* So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. (Luke 5:1-11)

Travel Tip
Although I hitchhiked and got rides fairly easily around the Sea of Galilee, I don't recommend hitchhiking. But if you find yourself in a bind with no option other than to hitchhike, you may find these tips useful: (1) position yourself where the oncoming drivers will have time to see and check you out, preferably after having stopped or slowed down; (2) stick out your thumb and smile at the drivers until and even after they pass you (they look at you in their rearview mirrors); (3) make sure there is a stretch of road behind you where they can stop easily; (4) don't get in the car if you get bad vibes; and (5) decline rides from men if you are a woman.

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