תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

--- -

worked His first miracle, "and manifested forth His glory." There are two villages near Nazareth, still bearing a similar name, each of which has been regarded as the scene of the manifestation. Kefr Kenna, a small village about an hour and a half to the north-west, and Kana-el-Jelil at double the distance. The former is the traditional site. The claims of the latter are supported by the deservedly high authority of Robinson, and its name is absolutely identical with that of the Biblical narrative. It is perhaps impossible to decide in which of the two it was that

" The modest water, awed by power divine,

Confessed the God, and blushed itself to wine."

--

With the exception of a fountain, apparently of the Roman period, said to have been the place from which the water was drawn, there is nothing in either of them to connect itself with the miracle. In the wedding festivities at Nazareth, of which I have already spoken, the bride was brought from near Kefr Kenna. The innumerable guests who thronged the house for a week, served to illustrate and to account for the inadequacy of the supplies provided for a similar festivity in the time of our Lord.

John ii. 1-11. See also John iv. 46-54 for an account of a second miracle wrought here.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]
[graphic][merged small]

O ne of the most interesting passages in the

writings of Josephus is that in which he narrates the history of his campaign against the Romans on and around the Lake of Gennesareth. Having spoken of the clear, cold waters of the lake, the innumerable ships and boats which floated upon it, and the prosperous towns and villages which lined its banks, he proceeds to describe the fertile plain from which it takes its name. “The country also that lies over against this lake hath the same name of Genne

sareth ; its nature is wonderful as well TOWN AND LAKE OF TIBERIAS.

as its beauty ; its soil is so fruitful that

all sorts of trees can grow upon it, and the inhabitants accordingly plant all sorts of trees there ; for the temper of the air is so well mixed, that it agrees very well with those several sorts, particularly walnuts, which require the coldest air, flourish there in vast plenty ; there are palm trees also, which grow best in hot air ; fig trees also and olives grow near them, which yet require an air that is more temperate. One may call this place the ambition of nature where it forces those plants that are naturally enemies to one another to agree together; it is a happy contention of the seasons, as if every one of them laid claim to this country; for it not only nourishes different sorts of autumnal fruit beyond men's expectation, but preserves them a great while ; it supplies men with the principal fruits, with grapes and figs continually during ten months of the year, and the rest of the fruits

[graphic]

as they become ripe together, through the whole year; for besides the good! temperature of the air, it is also watered from a most fertile fountain. The people of the country call it Capharnaum.”

The traveller who visits the Lake with this passage in his mind, and expects to find its descriptions realised is doomed to disappointment. The population has disappeared. To the stir of busy life a mournful silence has succeeded. A single filthy ruinous town-Tiberias-half-a-dozen wretched villages, and the black tents of the Bedouins, are the only human habitations on the banks. Where Herod, Josephus, and Titus could, without difficulty,

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

collect fleets of from three hundred to five hundred vessels, I only found three small fishing-boats, and these so dilapidated that their owners dared not launch them except in a perfect calm. The soil is fertile and productive as ever, but labour is wanting to break up the fallow ground, to cast in the seed, or to reap the harvest.

But there is a sense in which this mournful silence and solitude are not inappropriate. There is nothing to distract our thoughts from that Divine Presence which here abode in human form. One great memory lingers undisturbed amongst these hills and valleys. The bustle of modern life and the squalid misery and degradation of the eastern peasantry would

Bell. Jud. x. $ 8.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

equally clash with the sacred, tender associations of the spot where “most of His mighty works were done,” most of His “gracious words” were spoken. The stage is empty, and there is nothing to prevent our peopling it with hallowed memories of Him who spake as “never man spake,” who was Himself “the way, the truth, and the life.”

The contrast between the silence of Scripture as to our Lord's life at Nazareth and the ample details which it gives of His life here is very striking. To mention them all would be to quote the larger part of the first three Gospels and some of the most striking incidents of the fourth. He “dwelt in Capernaum,” which was “His own city.” On the shores of the lake He called Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew to be His disciples. In the villages and towns around it “most of His mighty works were done."3 In a mountain overlooking it, from a boat upon it, and in a town on its banks, He taught the people in His most memorable discourses.4 Over its waters He often sailed, on them He walked, hushed its storm to a calm, and rescued His faint-hearted disciple who was sinking beneath them. In a desert place on its shore He twice fed the assembled multitudes. But space is wanting to enumerate all the mighty deeds and gracious words of

which this hallowed spot was the scene, and which culminated in that | affecting interview when He manifested Himself to His disciples after His

resurrection and restored Peter to the place from which he had fallen in the apostolic band.?

In the Old Testament the lake is known as the Sea of Chinneroth, or Chinnereth, from a city which stood on its north-western shore.8 Gennesareth is probably a Grecised form of the earlier name, though its etymology (a garden of riches) suggests a very suitable derivation. By this name or by that of the Sea of Galilee it is commonly known in the New Testament, John, writing after the city of Tiberias had risen to importance as the capital of Galilee, speaks of it as “the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias."9 a fact which is not without importance as fixing the date of his Gospel.

The road from Nazareth to Tiberias leads over the low ridge which bounds the valley on the north-west, across a broken table-land, and through the village of Kenna, already spoken of as the traditional site of Cana in Galilee. Sefurieh, the ancient Sepphoris, is passed. It played an important part in the heroic but unsuccessful resistance of the Jews to the Romans under Titus, and hither the Sanhedrim retired after the fall of Jerusalem. The battle-field of Hattin is likewise distinctly seen, where the last great battle was fought between the Crusaders and Saladin, issuing in the total destruction of the Christian army and the establishment of the Moslem power I Matt. iv, 13; ix, 1.

? Ibid. iv. 18-22 ; ix. 9. * Ibid. ix., xi. 20-24. Luke x, 13-15.

• Matt. v., vii., xiii. Markiv. John vi. 24-71. * Matt. viii. 23-27 ; xiv. 25. Mark iv. 37-41 ; vi. 48. Luke viii. 23-25. John vi. 19. & Matt. xiv. 15-21 ; XV. 32-39.

John xxi. * Num. xxxiv. 11. Deut. iii. 17. Joshua xi. 2. 1 Kings xv. 20.

John xi. 1 ; xxi, I.

in the East. The hills which inclose the lake soon come into view, but the lake itself is not seen till we reach the summit of the steep descent which leads down to Tiberias, a thousand feet below us. The clear, blue, placid waters lie in a deeply depressed basin nearly seven hundred feet below the level of the sea. Some geologists have supposed it to be the crater of an extinct volcano. More careful investigation, however, proves that this is a mistake. It is but a part of that long line of depression which, starting from the sea-level near the Lake Hûleh, sinks down along the whole Ghor or Valley of the Jordan, till at the Dead Sea it has reached the unparalleled depth of thirteen hundred feet.

The lake is about thirteen miles in length by about six or seven in breadth at the widest part. The mountains on the eastern side rise to a height of two thousand feet, but they are flat and monotonous, destitute alike of colour and of foliage. The scenery has neither the bold outline of the Swiss lakes, nor the rich verdant loveliness of our own. The tamer parts of Windermere, stripped of their glorious mantle of forests, the grey hillsides bleak and bare, would give a not unapt illustration of the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

We do not read that our Lord ever entered Tiberias. The reason is doubtless to be found in the fact that it was practically a heathen city, though standing upon Jewish soil. Herod, its founder, had brought together the arts of Greece, the idolatry of Rome, and the gross lewdness of Asia. There was a theatre for the performance of comedies, a forum, a stadium, a palace roofed with gold in imitation of those in Italy, statues of the Roman gods, and busts of the deified emperors. He who “was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel ” might well hold Himself aloof from such scenes as these.

Modern Tiberias is a village of about two thousand inhabitants. A large proportion of these are Jews, who regard it as one of their holy places and have here a rabbinical school. It is filthy and squalid beyond even the average of eastern towns. From the swarms of vermin with which it is infested, the Arabs have a proverb that “the king of the fleas lives at Tiberias." Wilson says that on spending a night here he was literally covered with them and plucked them from his coat by handfuls. In common with other places in the Valley of the Jordan it suffers severely from earthquakes. In the great shock of January, 1837, the Turkish walls which surround the town were shattered, and in many places laid prostrate. As under the present government nothing is ever repaired, the fortifications remain in the dilapidated condition in which they were left nearly forty years ago.

Northward from Tiberias the hills on the western side slope gently down nearly to the edge of the lake. The strip of shore is of extraordinary fertility. Though now uninhabited and uncultivated, it is easy to believe that the glowing descriptions of Josephus were in no degree exaggerated. In about

V

[ocr errors]

Swarms.

« הקודםהמשך »