Sailing, Sailing Over Lake Galilee


What I Saw In the Holy Land, 11
At left, courtesy of Holy Land Photos, you see the remains of a fishing boat from Jesus' time (just discovered in 1986!) and the full-scale model they made from it. Researchers say it typically had a 5-man crew, and could hold 15 additional passengers.

If they say so! Certainly not 20 fat Americans. Nevertheless, one of the fun things to do in the Galilee region is visit Tiberias and take a boat (much larger to accomodate many tourists, but made to look similar so you can feel romantic about it) out on the lake Jesus walked upon. Words cannot describe how lush the site is at this time of year. Looking across the lake you see what Christ saw --namely the Golan Heights, rising like a wall of green out of the deep blue lake.

Incidentally, we had a few different guides during our stay. On the whole I found that the Arab Christians like to stay out of the political question as to whom the land belongs. I suspect that emotionally, as Arabs, they feel one thing; but as Christians who find the Jews treat them better, they all admit they'd rather be under Jewish rule. But we did have one guide --with the cool name "Nain"-- who pointed out "the Golan Heights of Syria" as easily as if he'd been pointing out the local McDonalds. All the other guides had been so careful and honest about the history of the places that he had me doubting myself for awhile: could the Israelis have ceded the Golan Heights & I missed it? Not to worry, though. This guide was an equal opportunity skeptic. According to him, none of the Christian sites were really where we were visiting --they're all actually someplace else. (Syria, no doubt.) And all Muslim religious claims are humbug. (I'll have more to say on that topic later.) He was the only grumpy Christian I met in Israel.

Back to Tiberias. Of course in all of these places we read passages from the Gospels to bring them alive. But I have to confess that looking at the Golan Heights to the Northeast and the sun beginning to set into the equally gorgeous mountains on the Western shore, I had an impious thought. Namely, that there was absolutely no way that a crowd of people on foot could have beaten Christ and the disciples to the opposite shore of Galilee as the verses I'd just heard said. A boat could make pretty short work of the crossing, but the distance on foot is so long that --well, I mean it's ridiculous.
Here's where an educated priest alongside you and a political map of ancient Palestine come in handy. There's no evidence to suggest that Christ was ever on the far eastern shore of Galilee visiting "the ten cities." But see how the north shore of Lake Galilee is split between the two Herods? This is what it meant to cross to the other side --to cross the political border to the cities of the North. It's very believable that people in haste could beat a boat in that direction. Cool, huh?