Matthew 4:18 “As Yeshua was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.”
Another beautiful morning on the Sea of Galilee. Today we went into Tiberias to find some internet and connect with people we needed meet and confirm some reservations. Our host was very helpful in giving us the names of two coffee shops, but only said, “They’re very easy to find downtown.” Our apartment is not anywhere ‘downtown’ and we actually had no idea how to get downtown so we just followed roads that led to the Kinneret. Crowded one-way streets with no real signs didn’t give us any information about either of the two places. So we kept following the road until we were out of the town driving by the sea.
The city of Tiberias was founded by Herod Antipas in AD 17-20 and was named after the Emperor Tiberias Caesar, the emperor of Rome during the time of Yeshua. There is no record that Yeshua ever visited the actual city of Tiberias, but the area was known for its therapeutic hot springs. This may explain why large numbers of sick people came to Yeshua for healing when he was in the area.
Yeshua predicted judgement for several towns around the sea – Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum – and they have only archaeological ruins. He did not pronounce judgment on Tiberias and it is a bustling little city today.
Matthew 11:20-24 “Then Yeshua began to denounce the towns in which he had done most of his miracles, because the people ha not turned from their sins to God. ‘Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Beit-Tzaidah! Why, if the miracles done in you had been done in Tzor and Tzidon, they would long ago put on sackcloth and ashes as evidence that they had changed their ways. But I tell you it will be more bearable for Tzor and Tzidon than for you on the Day of Judgment! And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Sh’ol! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom, it would still be in existence today. But I tell you that on the Day of Judgment it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom than for you!”
We stopped at Gai Beach Club and asked for a map. We were going to travel the old-fashioned way and leave WAZE behind. They had an excellent map of the Galilee region and the reception people were helpful in circling the two coffee shops where there was internet along with parking and directions to Mt. Arbel. They even took our post cards so they are finally on their way around the world.
Map in hand, we drove back to the city and learned there are two main roads that go in and out of the city. They are both one way and go opposite directions. We found parking exactly where they were shown on the map. We put our money in the meter for 1 1/2 hours and set off to find The Rosa.
The Sea of Galilee, or the Kinneret as it is known Israelis, is the same size as Lake McConaughy in Nebraska for those who know this lake. It is 13 miles long, 7 1/2 miles wide at its northern end, between 130-157 feet deep, 32 miles around and 650 feet below sea level. It is not really a sea, it is a fresh water lake. There are many beaches along the shore for swimming in the summer and there are even races across the sea. Storms can come up quickly on the sea making the currents very strong. The mountain range on the eastern shore of the sea was to be the eastern boundary of the Promised Land (Numbers 34:11).
Along the shoreline of the Kinneret, there are many street walks with shops. It’s called the ti-ilet טיילת. The sun was shining on the water and the day was very warm. I honestly never thought I would come home from Israel with a tan, but winter here is like moderate summer where we live. Along the ti-ilet there were a lot of piers and boats docked.. Some were private fishing boats, others were tour boats. A small overlook had a sculpture that kept track of the water level. The level of the fresh water in the Kinneret is very important for Israel. The level at the moment is right where it needs to be since they had their early rains. However, in recent weeks they have not had much rain and everyone was saying how the area needed it desperately.
At the Rosa we decided to have their specialty coffee named after the restaurant. It was coffee with chocolate that sank to the bottom. I ordered a creamy egg-custard looking dessert. I have no idea what it was because our waitress couldn’t speak English. When I showed a picture of it to our friend who is fluent in Hebrew, she didn’t know what it was either. It was ta’im delicious.
We sat at the cafe, enjoyed our desserts and used the internet. In Israel, people are expected to sit and eat for hours. We wondered about this because in Jerusalem we were always trying to eat quickly in order to have more time for the things we had planned. It seemed that the waiters were always a little confused when my husband would ask for the check. Today, however, I’m sure our waitress was very happy with us as we sat and soaked in all the natural Vitamin D.
John 6:1-3 “Some time after this, Yeshua crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias),and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Yeshua went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples.”
We finished our morning brunch dessert and headed to Mt. Arbel. Mt. Arbel is a mountain in the lower Galilee very near where we are staying. It rises 594 feet above sea level which appears high because the Kinneret is below sea level. It has many hiking trails that go through cliffs and and valleys and take more time than we had. The most common and easy trail follows the upper cliff to a lookout of all the Galilee region. From the point, there are views of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, Tiberias and Safed and most of the shoreline of the Kinneret. On this day, clouds were moving in over the northern Galilee. We could visually see Mount Hermon and its snow-capped peak, but we could not capture it on photos.
From Mt. Arbel, we headed back to our apartment via the grocery store. Our daughter was spending the day with Rawan in Nazareth and Cana and we had a couple of hours to wait until picking her up. We wanted to make sure we had some food supplies for Sabbath since all stores are closed. I especially wanted challah and cinnamon so I could make French toast challah for breakfast. The parking lot was almost empty and so was the store as most people were already preparing for the Shabbat and only a few had last minute items to buy.
Nazareth is considered small village on a ridge overlooking the Jezreel Valley; however, when we drove through, it was more like a very large city. The word Nazareth mean ‘branch or shoot’ or netzer. Nazareth doesn’t appear in the Tenak (Old Testament), but it is where Yeshua’s mother lived when the angel appeared to her with the news of the coming Messiah. Nazareth was also where Yeshua spent his childhood and young adulthood. His first recorded message occurred in Nazareth and the townspeople tried to throw him from the Mount of Precipice.
Luke 1:26-27 “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.”
Luke 2:39 “When Joseph and Miryam had finished doing everything required by the Torah of the Lord, they returned to the Galil, to their town, Nazareth.”
John 2:11 “What Yeshua did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
In the later afternoon hours, we sat on our deck and watch boats and jet skis on the lake. My husband put on some Paul Wilbur music from the album “Your Great Name” and I began to dance some wonderfully choreographed dances as preparation for the Sabbath. Clouds began to roll in from the north and the smell of rain filled the air.
“Those who keep the Sabbath and call it a delight shall rejoice in Your kingship. The people who sanctify the seventh day shall all be satisfied and take delight in Your goodness, and You favored the seventh day and declared it holy. You called it ‘most desirable of days” in remembrance of Creation.”
“Our God and God of our ancestors, find favor, please in our rest. Make us holy through Your commandments and grant us our share in Your Torah. Satisfy us with Your goodness, grant our souls joy in Your salvation, and purify our hearts to serve You in truth. In love and favor, LORD our God, grant us as our heritage Your holy Sabbath, so that all Israel who sanctify Your name may find rest on it. Blessed are You, LORD, who sanctifies the Sabbath” (page 598, Koren Siddur, Jewish prayer book).
I love Sabbath in Israel. I love that the whole nation shuts down. I love that there is a unity of spirit in the Sabbath and that everyone takes part. The old saying that it’s not the Jews who keep the Sabbath, but the Sabbath that keeps the Jews is true. There is just something about a whole country being united in the Sabbath, the holy day of the Lord, without regard to their belief system – Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed, Chasid, or Messianic both in Yeshua and ‘other messiahs’. No one is out driving, no one is buying or selling, everyone is in their home with their families inviting the Sabbath in their own traditional ways.
This Sabbath was going to be a little different than last week’s Sabbath. We were joining our friend, Eliana Hyde, and her family in Poriyah Kfar Avoda. My younger son met Eliana on the internet through some other friends who live in Israel. Eliana is the daughter of Messianic musician, Carolyn Hyde, and a beautiful singer. Over the years, Eliana became my Israeli daughter and when my oldest son was married, she sang at his wedding. Last year, Eliana visited our home (again) and for our home fellowship group, sang ‘Ha Tikvah‘, the Israeli national anthem. The original intention of our visit to Israel at this time was for Eliana’s wedding. Unfortunately, due to personal issues, she had to cancel her wedding. We still had our plane tickets, our apartment reservations, and an itinerary so we decided that the Lord had a plan and we should still come to Israel.
Eliana’s mother was raised Orthodox Jewish in Chicago. When she got older, she decided she didn’t want to be Orthodox so she moved to Israel for a year and lived on a kibbutz. When she returned to the United States, she went to Mexico and sang in cantinas and joined the sixties scene. While in a hospital, she had a vision and became a believer in the Messiah of Israel, Yeshua. Many years later, she and her family made aliyah to Israel. Aliyah means ‘to go up’ in a holy way. To make aliyah to Israel means to ‘go up to the land as one makes aliyah to read Torah in a synagogue. Over time Carolyn was invited to lead worship services and travels the world ministering to Jews, their Messiah and encouraging them to make aliyah.
Their Sabbath celebration began with the lighting of the candles. Eliana and her mom sang their family’s traditional blessings over the candles in this beautiful harmony that made me cry. There was a blessing over the wine and the bread which had the same words as ours, but the melody was more lively and joyful. For the next 5 to 10 minutes the family, consisting of her brother, Avi and his girlfriend Liora, Carolyn, Eliana and Richard sang classic Shabbat songs in Hebrew, kept the beat on the table (Eliana’s dad played a great spoon on his wine glass) and we all clapped and welcomed the Shabbat. We had a wonderful dinner of Chinese food, salad and sweet potatoes. Dessert was chocolates, dates, cookies and tea. During dessert, my husband was surprised with birthday cards. As his birthday is February 15, I had family members send his cards to Israel. A few had not arrived so we walked to their mailbox and found a few more.
The Hydes invite those who visit Tiberias and the Galilee to join them at their home. It’s called “The Living Stones Experience” and it would be a worthwhile experience to share a meal with them on their patio overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
We returned to our apartment and the smell of rain in the air turned into a downpour beating on the roof. The Galilee was receiving their much-needed rain.
Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Yeshua, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
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