Sharing the Beauty of the Holy Land

Bringing you stories from the Holy Cities of the Bible, the places where Jesus walked, and the people who live there today.
Aerial view of the outskirts of the Samaria Gorge
General bible discussionsSignificance of Samaria and the Samaritans in the Bible The region of Samaria lies between Galilee and Judea. There has been a great deal of racism and prejudice throughout history between Jewish people and Samaritans. Two popular Christian stories center around Samaria and the Samaritans: The woman at the well and the good Samaritan. What is the cause of this contempt between Jewish folk and Samaritans, and why is Samaria so significant in the Bible? Interesting Facts About Samaria In Hebrew, the name Samaria translates to "watch-tower." In biblical times, there was a mutual hatred amongst the Jewish people and the Samaritans. The famous story of the "Good Samaritan" is a bible story found in Luke 10:25-37.Control of Samaria has changed hands many times, including being owned by the Babylonians, Arabs, Canaanites, and Israelites. On their way to Galilee, most Jewish people traveled the long way around to avoid going through or near Samaria. Significance of Samaria in the Bible Samaria is nestled between the Sea of Galilee in the north and Judea in the south. The Jordan River lies east and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. When the Kingdom of Israel split, Samaria became the capital of the north, while Jerusalem got the title of the capital of the south. The northern portion in this regard is Israel, and the southern part is Judea. Samaria was destroyed in 722 by Assyrians, as foretold in a gruesome prophesy in the Bible. Samaria is held guilty, For she has rebelled against her God. They shall fall by the sword, Their infants shall be dashed in pieces, And their women with child ripped open. - Hosea 13:16 (NKJV) The Woman at the Well The chapter in the bible where this story begins is beautifully titled: A Samaritan Woman Meets Her Messiah. Jesus had decided to go through the city of Sychar in Samaria and sat by a well while his disciples went off to buy food. A woman approached the well and spoke with Jesus for a time, although we are never told the woman's name. We gather from their conversation that this woman was a social outcast and had taken many husbands in her life. Jesus offered her living water, which here is symbolic of a relationship with Christ. but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” - John 4:14 (NKJV). What can we learn from this encounter? First and foremost, this encounter in Samaria reminds us that through Christ and Christ alone, we have eternal salvation. The everlasting life referred to in the scripture is symbolic of a life and relationship with Christ. Secondly, it shows us that Jesus is selfless and loves all equally. Jesus was Jewish himself and yet gave time and kindness to a Samarian woman who most Jewish people would have loathed. The Parable of the Good Samaritan The Gospel of Luke: 10-35 (NKJV) tells the tale of the good Samaritan. This is a phrase used frequently in the English language for someone who does good and is kind. The story goes that a Jewish traveler is left beaten and naked in the street to die on his way to Jericho from Jerusalem. He is passed by a Jewish priest and a Levite who ignored the man completely. He was then approached by a Samaritan, who stopped and tended to his wounds. He took the man to an inn and paid for his stay, instructing the innkeeper to look after him. He went as far as saying that if the man used more than the Samaritan had paid upfront, he would return and pay for the rest. The lesson learned from this story is beautiful: ... which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” - Luke 10: 36-37 Simply put, Jesus is instructing us to do good things for others, much like the good Samaritan. Samaria's Significance Historically, we can learn a great deal from Samaria, as it is involved in many conquests, such as why the Kingdom of Israel split. The root of racism and prejudice between the Samaritans and Jewish people is a delicate topic yet incredibly interesting. The most important part of Samaria, however, is how Jesus uses it to teach us important lessons. Whether it be to welcome him into our hearts like the woman at the well or to do good for others like the good Samaritan. The biblical significance of Samaria teaches us crucial lessons about ourselves and our faith.
3 crosses as seen from the opening of a cave/tomb
General bible discussionsWhat Jesus Did After His ResurrectionAfter Jesus died on the cross, he was resurrected from his tomb by the miracle of God. As incredible as the resurrection of Christ was, the events that occurred afterward were equally as important. It is vital to explore this period of 40 days, as it gives us insight into the final days of Christ on Earth, before His ascension. Who Discovered the Empty Tomb of Jesus? There are conflicting accounts within the Bible of who discovered the empty tomb and what they did afterward. This is because many of the accounts did not come from eyewitnesses but rather from word of mouth. The Gospel of Mark provided the first account and is supported by those of Matthew and Luke, potentially because Mark's account was the benchmark for others. The Gospel of Mark accounts for three women fleeing the tomb of Jesus: Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome. They traveled there to anoint the body of Christ and found the large bolder moved away from the entrance of the tomb, and the body gone. He accounts that the women interacted with a man dressed in a long white robe, though it is unclear if this man was an angel or not. He proclaimed to them: Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! —Mark 16:6 NKJV He implores that the women spread the word to the disciples; however, they fled and said nothing because they feared the situation. The Gospel of Matthew and Luke tell much the same story, however, with varying details and a few embellishments. For example, in the Book of Matthew, there was an earthquake that preceded an angel coming down from heaven to present the news to the women. Matthew's account only lists two women as having visited the tomb; Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary," referring to the mother of James. The Gospel of Luke states that multiple women, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary mother of James, and various others. In this account, there were two men in the tomb instead of one man or one angel. They delivered the same message to the women as in the other accounts, but this time, the women did relay the message to the disciples. Who Does Jesus First Appear to After His Resurrection? Jesus made several appearances following His resurrection, the first of which was to Mary Magdalene. We see the account of Jesus showing himself to Mary in "John 20". Mary stands weeping outside the tomb, as she does not know where the body of Christ had been taken. Behind her appears a figure she does not immediately recognize as being Jesus. The figure asks who she is looking for, and she replies that she is looking for her Lord. Jesus responds with her name, whereupon she recognizes him. Jesus then says to Mary: Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.' —John 20:17 NKJV Appearances After His Resurrection Jesus Appears on the Road to Emmaus After Mary relayed God's information, no one believed her, so Jesus showed Himself on the road Emmaus to two individuals who were conversing about Jesus' death. They were skeptical at first when Jesus told them of His resurrection. They invited Him in to have dinner with them, and only recognized Him as Jesus Christ when he broke and blessed their bread. He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. —Luke 24:30 NKJV Jesus Appears to His Disciples When Jesus appeared before His disciples, they were uncertain and fearful. However, they were put at ease by his words and deeds. Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have. —Luke 24:39 NKJV Jesus explains to the disciples that all which had been written was happening and that he had indeed risen on the third day. He explains to the disciples that they must come to Jerusalem to witness his ascension to heaven. The Ascension Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus led his disciples to Bethany, just outside Jerusalem. It was there that he blessed them and ascended to heaven. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. —Luke 24:51 NKJV Reignited Faith Through Resurrection Many miracles occurred in the 40 days after Jesus' resurrection, marking pivotal points in his life. The story of His resurrection is more than just the Easter story; instead teaching us to trust in the miracle of God and the written word of scripture. In his final words, Jesus implores his disciples to behold the promise of God and to have faith that what has been promised will be provided. This message lives on today, and it is important as Christians to remember to trust in the word and promise of God.
A hammer, nail and crown of thorns lie on the ground
General bible discussionsWhy Judas Betrayed JesusJudas is one of the most important figures in the story of Jesus, and we know that Jesus trusted him from several bible passages. For hundreds of years, theologists have debated why the betrayal took place, with some even arguing that it was part of the destiny of Christ; an important one at that. The theme of freedom will also arise in the discussion due to the passage, "Satan entered into him." We take a closer look at the story. What We Know About Judas Judas was one of Jesus' twelve disciples. In Hebrew, "Judah" translates roughly from Greek as "Praise," "Let God be praised," or "God is thanked." This was a common name in the first century AD, used to honor Judas Maccabeus, and was used for other characters in the New Testament. He came from Iscariot and used the town as his surname. Interestingly enough, he is the only apostle who identifies by his origin: A town believed to be located in Judea, south of Jerusalem. Some records claim that he was Jesus's most trusted disciple, and yet there is also evidence that Jesus knew one of his disciples would betray him. The Betrayal of Jesus In the Gospel of John, during the famous Last Supper, Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray him: Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil! It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish. -John 6:70 Jesus then dipped a piece of bread in the dish and gave it to Judas. The Bible then states that "Satan entered into him" (John 13:21-27). Several other passages in the Bible indicate the coming betrayal, including Matthew 26:21: Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me. How Judas Betrayed Jesus While Jesus was in the Jerusalem-Bethany area for Passover, Satan entered into Judas, according to Luke 22:3-5: Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them. As told by the New Testament, the betrayal began with Judas planting a kiss on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in order to identify him to the Romans. This put into motion the series of events later referred to as the Passion of the Christ (his arrest, trial, death by crucifixion, and resurrection). Why Judas Betrayed Jesus According to John 12:6: Judas was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. However, he was the trusted treasurer and thus in a unique position to take advantage of the situation. Other researchers, scholars, and holy people have argued for a more political motive. Judas wanted to form a rebellion against the Romans and reestablish an independent Israel. Jesus didn't show interest in this idea - a possible reason Judas decided to hand him to the authorities. Some writers have toyed with the concept that Jesus didn't fit the particular idea of what or who an ideal Messiah should be. Some people feel that the passage stating that Satan entered into him would indicate that he did not betray Jesus of his own free will. Why Did Jesus Forgive and Pray for Peter and Not Judas? Peter also betrayed Jesus, but the situation was a little different. He disobeyed Jesus' instruction to watch and pray on the last night in Gethsemane. However, he repented immediately (Matthew 26:75). Later, he showed enormous faith and dedication by speaking to the crowds after the resurrection (Acts 2:14), gaining around 3000 new followers for the church. He suffered imprisonment, beatings, and ultimately death in the name of Christ. Judas, however, never asked forgiveness of Jesus or God. He showed guilt, perhaps. According to Matthew 27:3, he "was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders," meaning that he returned the reward he received for betraying Jesus. He eventually killed himself, but he never repented. He also carried out his betrayal in a brazenly disrespectful manner: a kiss. Significance of Judas’ Betrayal God allowed Judas to betray Jesus as, without Judas, there would be no Resurrection. Theories relating to the betrayal indicate a different underlying story about Judas' and Jesus' relationship. The Gospel of Judas (discovered by the National Geographic Society in 2006) paints an interesting picture, whereby Jesus asked Judas to betray him so that he could carry out his fate and save humanity. What is your take?
Mountain peaks with a trail running through and ocean behind
General bible discussionsEdom in the Bible"Edom" is the nickname of a man, originally called Esau, who is described in the Book of Genesis in the Bible’s Old Testament. "Edom" was also used as the name of the place where Esau went to live, the hilly part of southwest Jordan. Esau’s name was changed to Edom when he moved to that land. Let’s take a look at all the Edoms in the Bible – the man, the place, and the community that made this name memorable through history. Esau "Edom" in the Bible The history of Edom in the book of Genesis describes how Esau and his brother Jacob, the grandsons of Abraham, had a difficult relationship. Constantly vying for power in the family, Jacob deceived their father, Isaac, to win Esau’s inheritance. One day, Esau returned home from hunting. He was hungry and asked Jacob for the red lentil stew he had made. In exchange, Jacob then asked Esau to forfeit his inheritance as the eldest son, to which Esau agreed. Later, Isaac (the ancestor of the Jews) asked Esau to bring him a meat dish from the hunt so that he could bless him as the eldest son. Esau went hunting, and Jacob then pretended to be his brother, giving the blind Isaac a dish of goat meat. Isaac then accepted the dish, felt the hairy skin he thought was Esau’s (which was actually goat hair), and mistakenly gave his blessing to Jacob. Esau returned and wanted to kill Jacob for stealing the sacred blessing, which could not be undone. The English reference to "a mess of pottage" refers to how Esau forfeited his inheritance for a lowly stew of red lentils. Their enmity continued, and after Isaac died, Esau left Canaan, establishing himself southwest of the Jordan River in an area named Edom. The Significance of the Color Red Esau got the nickname "Edom" when he moved to another land. The Bible describes him as having red hair like the surrounding land and rock. In Hebrew, "Edom" means "red." Genesis describes Esau as red in complexion, the stew that Jacob made as a red stew, and the land that Esau moved to as having red sandstone rock. Red implies passion or conflict, symbolic of the brothers and their constant fighting. Esau’s tribes, otherwise known as the Edomites or the Semites, fought off any Israelites (Jacob’s tribes) who entered their territory. The Land of Edom The region where Edom once stood is now known as southwest Jordan, a hilly area on the eastern side of the beautiful Jordan River. Edom was known for its striking red cliffs, where the Horite people had previously lived in caves. Esau’s people married the Horite and Israeli people, but the Edomites lost their religious focus, and the enmity between Esau and Jacob continued for many years in the form of antagonism between the Edomites and the Israelites. The story of the land of Edom is significant in that it shows how ongoing conflict ended in the loss of life and identity. The story shows how hostility in a family can persevere when love and forgiveness are not upheld. The Edomites They were the descendants of Esau and his community. The race of the Edomites assimilated with other communities, especially the Israelites. Today, the descendants of the Edomites are untraceable because they intermarried with the Horites and conquered tribes of Israelites. There are no modern-day Edomites who do not share heritage with other groups of people. The Importance of the Edoms in the Bible All three of the Edoms in the Bible were important: the man, Esau; the land of Edom; and the empire of the Edomites. Edom was destroyed because of its sin and ongoing fighting, as God had foretold. The message we can take from these stories is that even a fight between two people can wreak havoc on a whole nation and its future. Our actions, sometimes even ones which seem small, have consequences - often on a larger scale than we could ever imagine.
Painting depicting John the Baptist baptising Jesus Christ
General bible discussionsWere John the Baptist and Jesus Cousins?John the Baptist is a prominent figure in our faith, and his relationship with Jesus is highly significant. Not only did John baptize Jesus, but he was also the person who advocated that Jesus was the Messiah. They are thought to be cousins; however, it is unclear whether John's mother, Elizabeth and The Virgin Mary were first or second cousin. Let's take a closer look at their relationship, as well as the baptism of Christ. Was John the Baptist Related to Jesus? We read about Mary visiting her cousin while pregnant with Jesus in the bible. At the time, Elizabeth was pregnant with Jesus' second cousin, John. Both Mary and Elizabeth had miraculous pregnancies. The Christmas story of the virgin Mary is one that we are all familiar with; however, the story of Elizabeth's pregnancy was a miracle as well. Elizabeth and her husband were too old to have children but, by the blessing of God, conceived John. During the days of King Herold of Judaea, the angel Gabriel approached Elizabeth's husband, Zachariah and granted him God's miracle of fertility. Do not be afraid, Zachariah, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John." Luke 1:13 NKJV Before they were born, we can see that John and Jesus had a special bond. Even as an unborn child, John reacted joyously to being in Jesus' presence. ... as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy." Luke 1:44 NKJV These are the words that Elizabeth spoke to Mary when they both met during their pregnancy. Elizabeth was already around six months pregnant when she met with Mary, making John slightly older than Jesus. John is said to have been born in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, where today the Church of John the Baptist stands. Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist John had become a messenger of God, proclaiming that everyone who hadn't yet, should repent before the coming of the Messiah. Jesus approached John in the River Jordan and requested that John baptize him. John initially refused, not for feelings of doubt in Jesus, but rather for feeling unworthy. He stated that Jesus should be the one to baptize John, not the other way around. Jesus responded to John's initial refusal by saying: Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Matthew 3:15 NKJV What this loosely translates to is that it is the will of God that Jesus is baptized, and so it will be done. Jesus here explains to John that God has a righteous plan and that this is John's part to play. John consented, and once the baptism was performed, the heavens opened, and God announced; This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17 NKJV It is important to note here that Jesus did not need to be baptized in the conventional way we know today. He was pure and free of sin. He was baptized in repentance for the world's sins and to mark the beginning of his ministry on Earth. This happened when both Jesus and John the Baptist were around 30 years old. Shortly after this, John was executed under orders of the ruler of Galilee, Herod Antipas, for reprimanding him on his divorce and remarriage. John the Baptist died a few years before Jesus was crucified. Many believe that Jesus' rising from the dead was actually that of John the Baptist due to the similarities in their nature as prophets. The Importance of Jesus' Baptism Today John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins on their mother's sides, but their relationship went much deeper than that. From before they were born, John felt a strong connection to Jesus. He started his ministry on Earth and prepared the world for Jesus the Messiah. The baptism of Jesus Christ is a show of humility and promise of God's mission and is an inspiration to all of us Christians, that even Jesus himself, who is pure and devoid of all sins, was baptized in the name of God, so we should all do the same.
Nebuchadnezzar's dream statue
General bible discussionsNebuchadnezzar’s Dreams and Their Biblical SignificanceMany people wonder about the well-known villain of the Old Testament, specifically why Nebuchadnezzar was famous. The story about Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the tree image, and the role it plays in the Bible (in Daniel 2) is truly fascinating. Let's take a closer look at these strange events in the Book of Daniel. Who Was Nebuchadnezzar’s God? Nebuchadnezzar worshipped a god called Marduk, whose image was a human in royal robes with a snake and a spade. He was the patron of Babylon, and, after Nebuchadnezzar prayed to him, Babylon became a powerful city. It made the king a mighty and fearsome ruler. The Romans associated Marduk with Zeus, and the Greeks associated him with Jupiter. What Was Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream in Daniel 2? The King had several upsetting dreams, and the content of them is not revealed clearly in the bible until later. The book of Daniel describes an intense and scary image in Nebuchadnezzar's first dream, that of a "Statue composed of a head of fine gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet and toes partly of iron and partly of clay." (verses 31-33) A massive stone struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, whereupon the image was broken in pieces and "Blown away like chaff! The stone became a huge mountain that filled the whole earth.” (verse 35) Nebuchadnezzar’s statue's meaning was significant. Daniel interprets the different metals of the statue as the different future empires, such that: The Babylonian empire is the head of gold.The Medo-Persian empire is the breast and arms of silver.The Grecian empire is the belly and thighs of bronze.The Roman empire is the feet of iron and clay. The rock that breaks the statue represents God Himself. This shows that, even though each metal and empire has its own endurance and weakness, none are as strong as the might of God. The Biblical Significance of Nebuchadnezzar’s First Dream God is more powerful than any nation, and a lack of humility will not help us progress. When Nebuchadnezzar has these terrible nightmares, he consulted with the men around him, rather than with God, as he should have done. Daniel is given a time limit to give an explanation, but rather than panic, he seeks God, knowing that the Lord can help us remain calm under pressure. What Was Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream in Daniel 4? Nebuchadnezzar's dream image was that of a huge tree, so enormous that it could be seen from anywhere, filled with fruit, birds, and animals. An angel came and ordered him to cut it down, leave a stump, and band it with iron and copper. The angel said that the heart of the tree will change from that of a human to a beast, and seven times will pass over it. All people will learn that God is Ruler and that he can give a kingdom to whomever he wants. Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream by saying that he will go insane. The insanity would last five years, and he would live like an animal, running through fields, hiding, and growing long fingernails and hair. A year later, as Nebuchadnezzar stood on the roof exalting himself and the kingdom, he heard a voice from heaven: While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer the ruler of this kingdom. You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’ (Daniel 4:31-33). The Biblical Significance of Nebuchadnezzar’s Fourth Dream In short, this dream is a warning about being too proud. We should never brag (1 Corinthians 5:6), except about knowing the Lord (Jeremiah 9:24). Did Nebuchadnezzar Become a Believer in God? After Daniel explains the first of Nebuchadnezzar's dreams to him, he respects God's wisdom, but despite his various run-ins with God's power, it was only after his period of insanity and losing all his power that he finally becomes a true believer. It took years and many hardships in Babylon, one of the countries that Jesus himself may have visited, before he submitted to this. Let us always trust God and move towards peace.
Map of the Sea of Galilee during biblical times
General bible discussionsThe Importance of the Sea of Galilee in the BibleThe Sea of Galilee is the largest freshwater lake in Israel and is the primary water source for the country. The Sea of Galilee is very important in the Bible as it was where Jesus performed many of his miracles. The Sea of Galilee is a popular tourism site for Christians to visit. Visiting this site you can walk the paths Jesus did and even see a boat that was discovered in 1986, this boat dates back to Jesus’s time. How Did the Sea of Galilee Get Its Name? The name originates from the Hebrew word kinnor (harp/lyre) which resembles the shape of the lake. The lake is about 21 km from North to South and about 43 km deep. Galilee is a Northern Israeli region. On the South lays the Jezreel Valley, to the North is the Lebanon Valley, East is the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, and the Golan Heights. To the west is the coastal mountain range. The Sea of Galilee is of great significance to Christians because Jesus performed many of his miracles on its shores, such as walking on water, calming the storm and feeding five thousand people. The Sea of Galilee is also called: Lake Kinneret We read about Lake Kinneret in Numbers 34:11, Joshua 11:2, 13:27, and it is believed that Lake Kinneret has been named after that body of water. Kinneret is the Hebrew word for violin and the lake is named Kinneret because its shape resembles a harp. Lake of Gennesaret This is the area where Jesus visited and performed healing acts. A town called Naphtali was later changed to Gennesaret and was also called the Paradise of Galilee because of its fertility and beauty. Luke is also the only Gospel that calls it a lake (Luke 5:1). Lake Tiberias Tiberias was an important city in 70 AD. Being spared by the Romans, it was made the capital of Jerusalem when it was destroyed. The name was later given to the lake. Today the Sea of Galilee is called Lake Tiberias. What Miracles Did Jesus Perform in the Galilee Region? Jesus changes water into wine (John 2:1-11). We read about a wedding that took place in Cana in Galilee. During the wedding, the wine was finished and Jesus’s mother told him about it. He asked servants to bring him jars filled with water. The was turned into wine, what was said to be the best wine at the wedding. This is Jesus’s first miracle. Jesus cures the nobleman’s son (John 4:46-47). A royal officer in Galilee’s son was sick. When he heard Jesus was in Galilee, he asked him to cure his child. Jesus told him his son will live and before he returned home, his servants came and told him his son has been healed. The great haul of fish (Luke 5:1-11). Jesus was busy teaching a crowd of people. He saw a few boats on the shore of Lake Gennesaret and boarded one. He then continued to teach from the boat. When he finished with his teachings, he asked the fishermen to cast their nets to the other side of the boat. Following Jesus’ request, they caught so many fish that their nets broke. Jesus casts out an unclean spirit (Mark 1:23-28). When Jesus was teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum, a man possessed with an evil spirit cried out to Jesus. Jesus rebuked the evil spirit which then left the man. The news spread through the region of Galilee about what Jesus had done. Jesus cures Simon’s mother-in-law of a fever (Mark 1:30-31). After leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the house of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever. Jesus went to her and took her hand, and the fever left her body. Jesus heals a leper (Mark 1:40-45). A leper approached Jesus and begged him to heal him. Jesus was filled with compassion, and he reached out to the leper, touched him and the leprosy left his body. Jesus told him to go and show himself to the priest. Is the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee the Same? The Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee are not the same thing. The Sea of Galilee lays in northern Israel. It is filled by the Jordan river, which then flows down to the Dead Sea. The distance between these two bodies of water is about 141 km. The Dead Sea lays south in Israel. It is much bigger than the Sea of Galilee. The Dead Sea is called dead because of its high salt concentration that makes it uninhabitable for any plants or animals. How Do You Get to the Sea of Galilee? The best way to get to the Sea of Galilee is to visit one of the towns bordering the Sea. Because of its importance to Christians, the Sea of Galilee is a popular tourist destination. It will always be part of Christianity as it is where Jesus performed miracles and much of his ministries. It has a collection of churches that are built over the sites where Jesus performed miracles, and worth visiting.
General bible discussionsNazareth: The Significance in Jesus’ TimeLocated in the lower part of Galilee, a district in the north of Israel, 56 km west of the sea of Galilee, set in a small basin, lies the ancient city of Nazareth. While being one of the smallest cities on earth, this town is filled with cultural diversity and sites of religious significance. The origin of the city itself is believed to date back 4221 years, all the way back to approximately 2200BC when Nazareth was just a trivial, little peasant village that is overlooked by mountains on all sides. What Happened in Nazareth Nazareth did, however, not become culturally important until around the year 5BC when a young girl met an angel of God called Gabriel who gave her news that she will be falling pregnant with Jesus our Lord. The girl was Mary of Nazareth, who was to be engaged to Joseph. After fleeing from the wrath of Herod, Joseph and Mary stayed in Egypt until the time Herod passed away, after which they then returned to Nazareth to raise their boy Jesus as a Nazarene in the Jewish culture. Why Nazareth? Why was it so important that Jesus had to grow up in Nazareth specifically? Why did they not stay in Egypt? Let us rewind the story a little bit. In the years leading up to the actual creation of the village, some six centuries before people settled there, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come from a town called Nazareth. This peasant village sitting in the middle of nowhere had to become the birthplace of Christianity. What were the odds of this coming to pass? Astronomical to say the least, and yet today we know this to have come to pass. (Matthew 2:22-23) Life and Food in Nazareth 6BC Home to Farmers and Tradesmen In the time that Jesus called Nazareth home, it was home to less than 300 Jews living simplistic lives as farmers and tradesmen in Galilee. They were mostly livestock farmers, herding sheep, goats, cattle, chickens, mules as well donkeys, and camels. Some sources even indicate that domesticated animals, such as cats and dogs were also kept. The Housing Houses in ancient Nazareth were built with stone foundations and bricks made from mud. Archaeologists speculate that some of the wood might have been used in the structure of the roofs, but not anywhere else since wood would have cost very expensive. The houses in Nazareth are most likely simple and small. Staple Food of Nazareth Food in ancient Nazareth was like the basic staples we have today, except, of course, a lot of work went into the cooking and preparation of thereof. All food processing had to be done by hand, the milling of grains and chopping of firewood for baking bread. The average meal for a Nazarene was plain and wholesome. The bread was a staple of every meal, and women made it as often as needed. During warmer summer months, they probably baked several days worth of bread ahead of time to store for meals to come. In the evenings, they would consume their main meals. It might have consisted of a lentil stew seasoned with herbs like cumin or coriander. Nazarenes had access to milk from their livestock and undoubtedly made their cheese, which would have been a good source of protein other than meat. Furthermore, vegetables like olives and onions were readily available. Options like water, wine or curdled milk would have been on the menu to drink. There would also have been fresh and dried fruit. An Ancient Self-Sustainable Village Like any self-sustaining village from the ancient world, there were also jobs such as blacksmiths, carpenters, farmers, and builders. The Bible tells us that Joseph, the husband of Mary, was a carpenter by trade. It is assumed that Jesus would have been trained by Joseph in this trade, as it is Jewish culture that the eldest son to follow in the footsteps of his father. Jesus grew up in this small community of Nazareth, applying his trade until he was around thirty years old. During this time, he might have had to look after his family after Joseph passed away. Jesus was a well-known person by everyone in Nazareth. Not only due to the size of Nazareth but because Jesus also showed a keen interest in teaching his fellow Nazarenes about God, the laws of God as well as the prophecies of the prophets. The Ministry of Jesus, the Nazarene Around the age of thirty years old, Jesus started his ministry and relocated to Capernaum, which was located east of Nazareth, on the banks of the sea of Galilee. Throughout His ministry, His reputation went before Him. So much so that when people spoke of The Nazarene, they meant Jesus. Even the disciples of Jesus were being called Nazarenes, although none of them even originated from there. Nazareth had received the status of the village where Jesus was from. Sadly, enough when Jesus returned to Nazareth, He was being rebuked for saying that He is the Messiah. So much so that the Jewish elders, knowing all too well who he was, wanted to murder him by throwing him off a cliff. Jesus concluded, "Truly I tell you no prophet is accepted in his hometown" (Luke 4:24). Nazareth is a small town that only became important after Jesus put it on the map. This peasant town is diverse and interesting with a unique history, fulfilling prophecies and giving the world the Messiah who came to save the people.