A Galilee Christmas Tour, In The Footsteps Of Jesus
The New Testament comes alive along the shores of Lake Kinneret.
Jesus of Nazareth’s three-year public ministry began when he swept into Tab’ha on the shores of Lake Kinneret and attracted his first four disciples. Most of his sermons were delivered, and his miracles performed, near the sparkling lake known in the New Testament as the Sea of Galilee.
A lovely (wheelchair accessible) promenade stretches 3.5 kilometers from Tab’ha to Capernaum with paths descending to the lakeshore and to several important sites. The promenade runs parallel to Highway 87, so that visitors with two vehicles can leave one at each end.
The Arabic name Tab’ha comes from the Greek hepta pega, or seven springs. Since there are only three large springs at Tab’ha, the number seven may have another explanation. According to the gospel of Matthew, Jesus cured a man of leprosy immediately after the nearby Sermon on the Mount. Thus, the man’s subsequent immersion in water would probably have been in one of the Tab’ha springs.
Later pilgrims who visited the site rinsed themselves seven times instead of one. This custom referred to an Old Testament miracle: the healing of the Syrian General Na’aman, who also suffered from leprosy and was cured when the prophet Elisha had him dip in the Jordan River seven times.
The Gospels relate that Jesus preached all day to 5,000 men (and, in some interpretations, additional women and children) at a “remote spot” that some believe to have been Tab’ha. When evening came, the disciples suggested the people be sent home, for it was late and they were hungry.
Instead, Jesus told his pupils to gather up all the food they could find – which turned out to be five loaves of bread and two fish – and to divide these among the crowd. Sitting on the grass in groups of hundreds and fifties the people ate their fill and not only was everyone satisfied, but there were twelve big basketfuls of fish and breadcrumbs left over.