The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake 150 feet deep and 700 feet below sea level. Technically it is a lake, but the Hebrew yam can mean either a freshwater lake or a proper sea. Surrounding cities include Bethsaida, Capernaum, Tiberias, and Hippos. The Hebrew name is Kinneret, from the Hebrew word for harp (kinnor), a reference its harp shape.
What are some names for the Sea of Galilee?:
The Sea of Galilee has been known under a number of different names, including:
Sea of Chinnereth Lake of Gennesaret
Lake of Tarichaeae
Sea of Tiberias
Where is the Sea of Galilee?:
The Sea of Galilee is located in the region of Galilee of northern Israel and is part of the Syro-African rift, a major geological fault line that runs from Turkey in the north to Africa in the south.
The Sea of Galilee is fed by the Jordan River in the north which then continues out in the south. It 15 miles long, 8 miles across at its widest, and serves as a natural boundary between the Jewish Galilee to the west and Gentile areas (such as the Decaoplis) to the east.
Why is the Sea of Galilee important?:
The region around the Sea of Galilee is characterized by abundant water and rich soil, making it a good location for agriculture. Fishing has always been a major industry. Human habitation dates back for millennia and it may have been an early settlement point for hominids migrating out of Africa. Despite the Jewish character of those to the west and Gentile character of those to the east, archaeological evidence indicates a great deal of continuity of lifestyles for all those living on the shores, regardless of religion.
The Sea of Galilee features prominently in the gospel stories about Jesus. According to the gospel authors, much of Jesus’ ministry took place in towns and villages around Galilee — especially Capernaum and Bethsaida. Because of the high surrounding hills, violent thunderstorms can suddenly strike, something recorded in the gospel stories. The pattern of high hills and narrow shore lines is broken at the northwest corner where the fertile plain of Gennesar meets the lake.