In the Bible the Sea of Galilee is known as the Sea of Kinneret, a name that is imaginatively associated with the Hebrew word kinor meaning a harp. The shape of the lake resembles a harp. It is also known as Lake Galilee or Lake Tiberias. The name Galilee refers to the region of Galilee in which it is located.It is Israel’s largest freshwater reserve, 21km from north to south and 12 km wide, a maximum depth of 48 meters.
At 213 meters below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second lowest point in the world after the Dead Sea; it is fed by underground springs, but it mains source is the Jordan River (Hebrew: Yarden >Yarad Dan = comes from the Dan), which flows through it from north to south. The bottom of the lake is dark basalt sand, that is why the water of Kinneret is of dark blue color when you look at it from a distance. The Sea of Galilee can quickly become transformed by a violent storm. Winds funnel through the east-
west aligned Galilee hill country and stir up the waters quickly. More violent are the winds that come off the hills of the Golan Heights to the east. Trapped in the basin, the winds can be deadly to fishermen. Twenty-two species of fish are found in the lake. The Via Maris (“Maritime Route”) passed its shores contributing to the wealth of the cities. In fact, Egyptian documents mention the hot springs on the shores of Lake Kinneret and their beneficial effects. In the period of the Roman occupation, King Herod received the city of Hippos (Susitha), which bordered on the east of the lake, and Herod’s sons, Antipas and Philip, founded the cities of Tiberias and Julias (Bethsaida). Tiberias plays an important role in Jewish history.
It was part of the land bequeathed to Naphtali (Joshua 19:35). The Sanhedrin (the High Court of Israel during the period of the Second Temple) relocated to Tiberias from Sepphoris. In the Mishnaic and Talmudic period, Tiberias was an important spiritual center. The Mishna was completed in Tiberias in 200 C.E. under the supervision of Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi (“Judah the Prince”). The Jerusalem Talmud was compiled in 400 C.E. After his death in 1204, the great Jewish sage Maimonides was buried in Tiberias. His tomb is on Ben Zakkai Street, a short distance from the town center. The street’s namesake, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, is also believed to be buried nearby. Yet another shrine is the Tomb of Rabbi Akiva.
Moreover, it was also during the Roman period that the Lake Kinneret region served as the setting of Jesus’ preaching, and later as the center of his apostles’ activities. As a result, many churches were later built on these same shores, including Capernaum, home to at least five of the twelve disciples. The Church of the Beatitudes is said to be where the Sermon of the Mount was preached and Tabgha
believed to be the site where Jesus fed 5,000 followers from “five loaves of bread and two fishes”, the place is called the Church of Multiplication. The nearby lakeside town of Migdal is the hometown of Mary Magdalene.The crusaders fought to control the lake area because of its historic connections with Christianity. The New Testament refers to the lake as the Sea of Galilee and the Sea of Gennesareth.
In the modern era, the first collective settlements (kibbutzim) in the modern Jewish State were established in the southwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. Among them was Kibbutz Degania, forerunner of the hundreds of settlements that were yet to come.