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Blessings, Curses, Miracles and Fortunes…

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Around the shores of the Sea of Galilee 

During a trip around the shores of the Sea of Galilee, visitors encounter stories and explanations about different religious rituals, art and unexplained phenomena.

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The Sea of Galilee


During a trip around the shores of the Sea of Galilee, visitors encounter stories and explanations about different religious rituals, art and unexplained phenomena.

 

Trips in the area introduce the visitor to a large number of historical sites, holy places and national parks. This route passes through blessings, curses, miracles and fortunes whose stories pass through the historical periods in the area, combined with age old traditions that appear in the different beliefs of the people that inhabited and still inhabit the region.

 

“The Wheel of Zodiacs”
Hamat Tiberias is located at the southern exit from Tiberias, near the current day spas. The site was discovered by accident while paving the road from Tiberias to Tzemach in 1920, and archeological digs revealed the remains of ancient bathhouses and a synagogue from the 1st century AD. At the center of the synagogue, a mosaic was discovered, showing the most ancient wheel of zodiacs that was found among mosaic floors in synagogues in Israel. At the corner of the floor is a figure of a woman that symbolizes the four seasons. In other parts of the mosaic are different Jewish symbols. The fact that this place has many therapeutic baths, and that many came there to find a cure for their ailments, also adds to the mystical uniqueness of the place.



Bread to the Hungry and Light to the Blind
On our way from Kursi to Capernaum, we will pass upon two sites: The first is “Tel Adar” (Adar Mound), where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus performed a miracle and fed 4,000 hungry people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. The second site is Bethsaida junction, named after the ancient settlement in which it is believed that three of Jesus’ apostles were born –Peter, his brother Andrew and Philip.

 


 

“The Miracle of the loaves and fish”
At the end of the treatise of blessings, we’ll descend using the winding road towards Capernaum junction, and turn east towards Tabgha, home to the magnificent mosaic floor. On the eastern part of the floor there is a picture in memory of the miracle of the loaves and the fish. According to Mathew, Jesus managed to feed 5,000 men using only five loaves of bread and two fish. According to Christian belief, this was also the location where after his death, Jesus appeared before Saint Peter and ordered him to follow in his footsteps, saying: “Herd my sheep”.


The current day church is located on the remains of a Byzantine church. It appears simple and humble to the eye, but the mosaic floors are spectacular, with images of animals and birds from the land of the Nile.


Near the church there is a small cave known as “the Cave of Job”. According to different traditions, this is where Job lived when he came to wash in the spring in the cave. Therefore, many people still believe that the spring has healing properties. Job spring is one of the seven springs that gave the Tabgha valley its name.

Several kilometers east of the church of the loaves and the fish is Capernaum National Park, with the magnificent remains of the ancient synagogue, built in the 6th century AD. Close to the synagogue are the remains of the fishing village where, according to tradition, lived Jesus’ closest apostle – Simon, more commonly known as Peter. The synagogue is located at the center of a wide antiquities site, in which there are the remains of the ancient fishing village. Peter lived here, and Jesus’ walking on the water is also related to this place.


Nearby is the Greek Orthodox Church of the Twelve Apostles, renown for the beauty of its white walls and red domes.


Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess

 

Nearby is a pilgrimage site known to Israelis as “Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess’s grave”. On the eve of the Second Passover, thousands of men, women and children gather here for a public celebration in memory of Rabbi Meir. During the celebrations, people ask for success in finding a match, getting pregnant and good business.

 

Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess (Rabbi Meir Master of the Miracle) was one of the greatest Jewish sages during the second temple period. He studied under Rabbi Akiva, and was known to have a phenomenal memory. He wrote books and explanations to the holy texts and worked to reinstate Jewish leadership in the Galilee after the Bar Kokehva revolt. Today, there is a large synagogue at the grave site.

“The Miracle of the Swine” and “the Enchanted Bench”

 

On our way to meet more miracles and additional fortunes, we will pass by the site where Jesus was baptized, located where the Jordan River exits the Sea of Galilee. From here, we will continue to the eastern shores of the Sea to meet the story of the “miracle of the swine” in the Kursi National Park. Here we can see the remains of a Byzantine monastery and church from the fifth century AD. The floor of the church is decorated with images of animals, birds, plants and fruit, and in the church’s baptism chamber is a Greek inscription.


According to the New Testament, when Jesus reached the Kursi beach in one of his sailing expeditions, he expelled the demons from a possessed man into a herd of. As a result, the pigs started running into the Sea of Galilee, where theydrowned. It is possible to see a rock protrusion over the site. According to Christian tradition, this is where the “miracle of the swine” took place.

Another focus for the visitors at Kursi is “the enchanted bench”. Visitors touring this site have told that this bench induces a feeling of peace and calm to those that sit on it. Therefore, many people attribute special qualities to this bench, and return to sit on it in order to wish for unusual requests.

 

The Curse of Corazim and the Blessing of Happiness


Continuing towards Capernaum, we will deviate to the road heading north towards the Corazim National Park in order to tour the remains of the ancient city of Basalt. The city is first mentioned during the Second Temple period for its fine grain. Here we can hear about Jesus’ cursing the inhabitants of the city for their refusal to accept his teachings. Today, the impressive remains of the fifth century synagogue, the ritual bath, the olive press and the remains of the city’s houses can be seen.

 

Continue west to the octagonal Church of the Beatitudes at the top of the hill. According to Christian tradition, this is where Jesus gave his famous Sermon on the Mount, in which he introduced the essence of his teachings. The 8 sides of the church building symbolize the eight passages of the sermon that start with the word “blessed”.

Some say that this site is where Jesus selected his 12 apostles. Near the church is a hostel of Franciscan nuns.

“Ye of Little Faith”


After listening to the miracle stories of the north of the Sea of Galilee, we will go to the western part of the lake. Our next stop will be the Yigal Alon Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar.
Here, we can see different exhibits and view an audio-visual display, hear the story of man in the Galilee and the area’s settlements and finish up with a finding that was discovered in the waters of the Sea of Galilee in 1986, known as “Jesus’ Boat”.


Jesus’ activity in the area of the Sea of Galilee, his frequent sailing from shore to shore and the fact that many of his followers were residents of the nearby fishing villages are undisputed. In the Book of Matthew in the New Testament: “And when he was entered into a boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the boat was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Save, Lord; we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”



The article and the photos courtesy of the Israel Tour Guides Association http://www.tour-guides.co.il/itg/

 

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