True or False: Test your knowledge of The Sea of Galilee. There is more there than you know.

  1. T F The Sea of Galilee is full of saltwater.
  2. T F The Sea of Galilee is known by four different names in the Bible.
  3. T F The Sea of Galilee is 60 miles (98 km) South of Jerusalem.
  1. T F The Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee.
  2. T F Several rivers flow into the Sea of Galilee.
  3. T F The Jordan River flows out of the Sea of Galilee.
  4. T F The Sea of Galilee is about 700 feet (230 m) below sea level.
  5. T F The Sea of Galilee is a lake, not a sea.
  6. T F The Sea of Galilee had a thriving fishing industry in Bible times.
  7. T F The Sea of Galilee has steep hillsides, mountains, and cliffs on several sides.
  8. T F Many people lived around the Sea of Galilee.
  9. T F Jesus did most of His teaching around the Sea of Galilee.
  10. T F Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee.
  11. T F Jesus calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee.
  12. T F The Sea of Galilee had many harbors.
  13. T F There are about 18 species of fish native to the Sea of Galilee.
  14. T F The apostle Peter was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee.
  15. T F Jesus grew up near the Sea of Galilee.
  16. T F The best fishing was on the North end of the Sea of Galilee.
  17. T F The Sea of Galilee had warm springs that attracted fish.

Answers

  1. FALSE: The Sea of Galilee is full of saltwater.

The Sea of Galilee gets water from the Jordan River which is fresh water. The water also comes from rain on the mountains. Although the Sea of Galilee is much lower than the Mediterranean Sea, the mountains between them block the salt water from flowing into the Sea of Galilee.

  1. TRUE: The Sea of Galilee is known by four different names in the Bible.

The Bible does refer to the Sea of Galilee by four different names in the Bible:

    • The “Sea of Chinnereth” meaning“ harp-shaped,” Numbers. 34:11; Joshua. 12:3; 13:27).
    • The “Lake of Gennesaret” (Luke 5:1; Matthew. 14:34).
    • The “Sea of Tiberias” (John 6:1; 21:1).
    • The “Sea of Galilee” (Matthew. 4:18; Mark 1:16).
  1. FALSE: The Sea of Galilee is 60 miles (98 km) South of Jerusalem.

If you said True, you went the wrong way. It is 60 miles North of Jerusalem.

  1. TRUE: The Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee.

The Jordan River flows into the North end of the Sea of Galilee, through the sea of Galilee, out the southern end, and ends at the dead sea.

  1. FALSE: Several rivers flow into the Sea of Galilee.

Only the Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee. The Ayun and Banias rivers feed into Lake Huleh, which is a large swampy area. The Jordan river flows out of Lake Huley and into the Sea of Galilee.

  1. TRUE: The Jordan River flows out of the Sea of Galilee.

The Jordan River flows into the North end of the Sea of Galilee and out of the southern end.

  1. TRUE: The Sea of Galilee is about 700 feet (230 m) below sea level.

The modern number is 695.8 feet below sea level. It is estimated that during the New Testament period the water level varied between 687 and 691 feet below sea level; that is about 5 to 11 feet higher than today’s level. The water level is a little lower than during Bible times because water from the Sea of Galilee serves as the main source of water for Israel and their irrigation.

  1. TRUE: The Sea of Galilee is a lake, not a sea.

A sea is a large body of saltwater that is mostly land locked whereas a lake is a considerable inland body of water. (Webster)  A lake usually has a source of water feeding it and often has an outlet also. Luke uses the Greek word for lake several times when referring to the Sea of Galilee. The name “Sea of Galilee” is traditional though not exactly accurate; HOWEVER, not everyone agrees with these definitions, so If you disagree you can still have your point.

  1. TRUE: The Sea of Galilee had a thriving fishing industry during Bible times.

The Jordon River’s inflow brought many nutrients into the northern end of the Sea of Galilee that the fish thrived on. There were 16 harbors used for transportation and fishing. Several of the disciples were fishermen who fished off the Northern shore of Galilee.

  1. TRUE: The Sea of Galilee has steep hillsides, mountains, and cliffs on several sides.

Particularly the East and West sides were steep mountains and hills. Although the North end has more room for cities and settlements, there are still the mountains the Jordan River flows down into the Sea of Galilee.

  1. TRUE: Many people lived around the Sea of Galilee.

Nine of the cities on the banks of the Sea of Galilee had populations over 15,000 people. The cities and settlements strung all along the banks of the Sea of Galilee.

  1. TRUE: Jesus did most of His teaching around the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus went into Galilee when He wanted to be away from the Jewish rulers. The city of Capernaum on the North end of the Sea of Galilee was His home base in Galilee. Jesus was able to teach His disciples and great crowds during this time near the Sea of Galilee and away from the Jewish rulers.

  1. TRUE: Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee.

In Matthew 13:53-58 Jesus is in His hometown of Nazareth. Jesus left in a boat after the news of the beheading John the Baptist. This would be on the Sea of Galilee. But the crowds followed Him along the shore and there He fed 5000 people. Then, with the boat still on the Sea of Galilee Jesus sends His disciples away in the boat. Later, He walked on the water of the Sea of Galilee to catch up with them.

  1. TRUE: Jesus calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee.

Matthew 8:24. In Matthew 8:14 Jesus is at the Peter’s home and heals peter’s mother-in-law. Peter had been a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee and lived there by the sea. So, the storm was on the Sea of Galilee. Violent storms still suddenly appear on the Sea of Galilee to this day.

  1. TRUE: The Sea of Galilee had many harbors.

Archeologists have located 16 ancient harbors at the Sea of Galilee. The winds and waves have destroyed them over time, but unusually low water levels have revealed the foundations of these 16 harbors along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

  1. TRUE: There are about 18 species of fish in the Sea of Galilee. The number ranges from 14 to 19 depending on who is counting. Ancient people described these fish as tasty
  1. TRUE: The apostle Peter was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee.

(Matthew 4:18–19 NASB95) “Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ ”

  1. TRUE: Jesus grew up near the Sea of Galilee.

Luke 2:4; 2:39 Jesus grew up in the city of Nazareth, which is on the North shore of the Sea of Galilee.

  1. TRUE: The best fishing was on the North end of the Sea of Galilee.

The inflow of the Jordan River deposited rich nutrients that the fish thrived on. The fish grew and multiplied there.

  1. TRUE: The Sea of Galilee had warm springs that attracted fish.

There were a few of these warm springs where the fish liked to hang out. Fishing by these springs was great.

Bibliography

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake

Franz, G. (2016). Ancient Harbors of the Sea of Galilee. In B. J. Beitzel & K. A. Lyle (Eds.), Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels (Mt 4:18–Jn 21:17). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Macalister, A. (1911–1912). FOOD. In J. Hastings, J. A. Selbie, A. B. Davidson, S. R. Driver, & H. B. Swete (Eds.), A Dictionary of the Bible: Dealing with Its Language, Literature, and Contents Including the Biblical Theology (Vol. 2, p. 37). New York; Edinburgh: Charles Scribner’s Sons; T. & T. Clark.

Fowler, D. (2000). Fish. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (p. 463). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

Winstead, M. B. (2016). Galilee, Sea of. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Freedman, D. N. (Ed.). (1992). Galilee. In The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 2, p. 879). New York: Doubleday.

Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Hart, H. C. (1888). The Animals Mentioned in the Bible (p. 94). London: The Religious Tract Society.

Peter S. Williams. (n.d.). Archaeology and the Historical Reliability of the New Testament.

Merrill, S. (1885). Galilee in the Time of Christ (Vol. VI). London: The Religious Tract Society.