The SEA OF GALILEE, also KINNERET, LAKE OF GENNESARET, or LAKE
Hebrew : יָם כִּנֶּרֶת, Judeo-Aramaic :
יַמּא דטבריא; גִּנֵּיסַר Arabic : بحيرة
طبريا), is a freshwater lake in
Israel . It is
approximately 53 km (33 mi) in circumference, about 21 km (13 mi)
long, and 13 km (8.1 mi) wide. Its area is 166.7 km2 (64.4 sq mi) at
its fullest, and its maximum depth is approximately 43 m (141 feet).
At levels between 215 metres (705 ft) and 209 metres (686 ft) below
sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on
Earth and the
second-lowest lake in the world (after the
Dead Sea , a saltwater lake
). The lake is fed partly by underground springs although its main
source is the
Jordan River which flows through it from north to south.
* 1 Geography
* 2 Names and their etymology
* 3 History
* 3.1 Prehistory
* 3.2 Antiquity
* 3.3 Middle Ages
* 3.4 Modern era
* 4 Archaeology
* 5 Water use
* 6 Tourism
* 7 Flora and fauna
* 8 Panoramic and satellite views
* 9 See also
* 10 References
* 11 External links
* 12 Further reading
Galilee in relation to the
The Sea of
Galilee is situated in northeast Israel, between the Golan
Heights and the
Galilee region, in the
Jordan Rift Valley , the valley
caused by the separation of the African and Arabian Plates .
Consequently, the area is subject to earthquakes , and in the past,
volcanic activity. This is evident by the abundant basalt and other
igneous rocks that define the geology of the Galilee.
NAMES AND THEIR ETYMOLOGY
The lake has been called by different names throughout its history,
usually depending on the dominant settlement on its shores. With
changing fate of the towns, the lake's name also changed. LAKE OR SEA
Hebrew name, Kinneret, comes from the
Hebrew Bible , the
main source of the Christian
Old Testament , where it appears as the
"sea of Kinneret" in Numbers 34:11 and Joshua 13:27, spelled
כנרות "Kinnerot" in
Hebrew in Joshua 11:2. This name was also
found in the scripts of
Ugarit , in the Aqhat Epic . Kinneret was
listed among the "fenced cities" in Joshua 19:35. A persistent, though
likely erroneous popular etymology of the name presumes that the name
Kinneret may originate from the
Hebrew word kinnor ("harp" or "lyre"),
in view of the shape of the lake. The scholarly consensus though is
that the origin of the name lies with the important Bronze and Iron
Age city of Kinneret , excavated at Tell el-'Oreimeh. However, there
is no evidence that the city of Kinneret itself was not named after
the body of water rather than vice versa, or for the origin of the
town's name. LAKE OF GENNESARET
All Old and
New Testament writers use the term "sea" (
yam, Greek θάλασσα), with the exception of Luke who calls it
Lake of Gennesaret" (Luke 5:1), from the Greek λίμνη
Γεννησαρέτ (limnē Gennēsaret), the "Grecized form of
Chinnereth" according to Easton (1897). SEA OF GINOSAR
Babylonian Talmud , as well as Flavius
Josephus mention the sea
by the name "Sea of Ginosar" after the small fertile plain of Ginosar
that lies on its western side.
Ginosar is yet another name derived
from "Kinneret". SEA OF GALILEE, SEA OF TIBERIAS, LAKE TIBERIAS
New Testament the term "sea of Galilee" (Greek :
θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας, thalassan tēs Galilaias)
is used in the gospel of Matthew 4:18; 15:29, the gospel of Mark 1:16;
7:31, and in the gospel of John 6:1 as "the sea of Galilee, which is
the sea of Tiberias" (θαλάσσης τῆς Γαλιλαίας
τῆς Τιβεριάδος, thalassēs tēs Galilaias tēs
Tiberiados), the late 1st century CE name. Sea of
Tiberias is also
the name mentioned in Roman texts and in the
Jerusalem Talmud , and
was adopted into Arabic as Buhairet Tabariyya (help ·info )
(بحيرة طبريا), "
Lake Tiberias". SEA OF MINYA
Umayyad through the
Mamluk period the lake was known in
Arabic as "Bahr al-Minya", the "Sea of Minya", after the
complex whose ruins are still visible at
Khirbat al-Minya . This is
the name employed by the medieval Persian and Arab scholars
Al-Baladhuri , Al-Tabari and
Ibn Kathir .
In 1989 remains of a hunter-gatherer site were found under the water
at the southern end. Remains of mud huts were found which are the
oldest known buildings in the world. See
Jesus appears on the shore of
Tiberias by James Tissot
Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish , in the Sea of Galilee, by
The Sea of
Galilee lies on the ancient
Via Maris , which linked Egypt
with the northern empires. The
Greeks , Hasmoneans , and Romans
founded flourishing towns and settlements on the land-locked lake
Tiberias . The first-century historian Flavius
Josephus was so impressed by the area that he wrote, "One may call
this place the ambition of Nature."
Josephus also reported a thriving
fishing industry at this time, with 230 boats regularly working in the
lake. Archaeologists discovered one such boat, nicknamed the Jesus
Boat , in 1986.
Much of the ministry of
Jesus occurred on the shores of
In those days, there was a continuous ribbon development of
settlements and villages around the lake and plenty of trade and
ferrying by boat. The
Synoptic gospels of Mark (1:14–20), Matthew
(4:18–22), and Luke (5:1–11) describe how
Jesus recruited four of
his apostles from the shores of
Lake Galilee: the fishermen Simon and
his brother Andrew and the brothers John and James . One of Jesus'
famous teaching episodes, the
Sermon on the Mount
Sermon on the Mount , is supposed to
have been given on a hill overlooking the lake. Many of his miracles
are also said to have occurred here including his walking on water ,
calming the storm , the disciples and the boatload of fish, and his
feeding five thousand people (in
In 135 CE Bar Kokhba\'s revolt was put down. The Romans responded by
banning all Jews from
Jerusalem . The center of Jewish culture and
learning shifted to the region of the
Galilee and the Kinneret,
particularly the city of
Tiberias . It was in this region that the
Jerusalem Talmud was compiled.
The lake's importance declined when the Byzantines lost control and
the area was conquered by the
Umayyad Caliphate and subsequent Islamic
empires. Apart from Tiberias, the major towns and cities in the area
were gradually abandoned. The palace
Khirbat al-Minya was built by the
lake during the reign of the
Umayyad caliph al-Walid I (705–715 CE).
Saladin defeated the armies of the
Crusades at the Battle of
Hattin , largely because he was able to cut the Crusaders off from the
valuable fresh water of the Sea of Galilee.
Duga beach, Kinneret Southern tip of the lake, seen from
Throughout the early Ottoman era, the lake had little importance
within the Ottoman Empire.
Tiberias did see a significant revival of
its Jewish community in the 16th century, but had gradually declined,
until in 1660 the city was completely destroyed . In the early 18th
Tiberias was rebuilt by
Zahir al-Umar , becoming the center
of his rule over Galilee, and seeing also a revival of its Jewish
In 1909, Jewish pioneers established the first cooperative farming
village (kibbutz ),
Kvutzat Kinneret in the immediate vicinity of the
lake. The settlement trained Jewish immigrants in farming and
Kvutzat Kinneret pioneers established Kibbutz
Degania Alef . The
Kvutzat Kinneret is considered the cradle of the
kibbutz culture of early
Zionism and is the birthplace of Naomi Shemer
and the burial site of Rachel —two of the most prominent Israeli
In 1917, the British defeated Ottoman Turkish forces and took control
of Palestine, while France took control of Syria. In the carve-up of
the Ottoman territories between Britain and France, it was agreed that
Britain would retain control of Palestine , while France would control
Syria. However, the allies had to fix the border between the Mandatory
Palestine and the
French Mandate of Syria
French Mandate of Syria . The boundary was defined
in broad terms by the Franco-British Boundary Agreement of December
1920, which drew it across the middle of the lake. However, the
commission established by the 1920 treaty redrew the boundary. The
Zionist movement pressured the French and British to assign as many
water sources as possible to
Mandatory Palestine during the
demarcating negotiations. The High Commissioner of Palestine, Herbert
Samuel , had sought full control of the Sea of Galilee. The
negotiations led to the inclusion into the Palestine territory of the
whole Sea of Galilee, both sides of the
River Jordan ,
Lake Hula , Dan
spring, and part of the Yarmouk . The final border approved in 1923
followed a 10-meter wide strip along the lake's northeastern shore,
Mandatory Syria (
State of Damascus ) off from the lake.
The British and French Agreement provided that existing rights over
the use of the waters of the
Jordan by the inhabitants of
be maintained; the Government of
Syria would have the right to erect a
new pier at Semakh on
Tiberias or jointly use the existing pier;
persons or goods passing between the landing-stage on the
Tiberias and Semakh would not be subject to customs regulations, and
the Syrian government would have access to the said landing-stage; the
Syria and Lebanon would have the same fishing and
navigation rights on Lakes Huleh,
Tiberias and River Jordan, while the
Government of Palestine would be responsible for policing of lakes.
On May 15, 1948,
Syria invaded the newborn State of Israel,
capturing territory along the Sea of Galilee. Under the 1949
armistice agreement between
Israel and Syria,
Syria occupied the
northeast shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. The agreement, though,
stated that the armistice line was "not to be interpreted as having
any relation whatsoever to ultimate territorial arrangements." Syria
remained in possession of the lake's northeast shoreline until the
1967 Arab-Israeli war .
In the 1950s,
Israel formulated a plan to link the Kinneret with the
rest of the country's water infrastructure via the National Water
Carrier , in order to supply the water demand of the growing country.
The carrier was completed in 1964. The Israeli plan, in line with the
Headwater Diversion Plan (Jordan River) of the Arab League, sparked
political and sometimes even armed confrontations over the Jordan
During a routine sonar scan in 2003 (finding published in 2013),
archaeologists discovered an enormous conical stone structure. The
structure, which has a diameter of around 230 feet (70 m), is made of
boulders and stones. The ruins are estimated to be between 2,000 and
12,000 years old, and are about 10 metres (33 ft) underwater. The
estimated weight of the monument is over 60,000 tons. Researchers
explain that the site resembles early burial sites in
Europe and was
likely built in the early Bronze Age.
Galilee water levels January 2004 – February 2012
Israel's National Water Carrier , completed in 1964, transports water
from the lake to the population centers of Israel, and in the past
supplied most of the country's drinking water. Nowadays the lake
supplies approximately 10% of Israel's drinking water needs.
Syria attempted construction of a Headwater Diversion Plan
that would have blocked the flow of water into the Sea of Galilee,
sharply reducing the water flow into the lake. This project and
Israel's attempt to block these efforts in 1965 were factors which
played into regional tensions culminating in the 1967
Six-Day War .
During the war,
Israel captured the
Golan Heights , which contain some
of the sources of water for the Sea of Galilee.
The Israeli government monitors water levels and publishes the
results daily at this web page . The level over the past eight years
can be retrieved from that site. Increasing water demand in Israel,
Lebanon and Jordan, as well as dry winters, have resulted in stress on
the lake and a decreasing water line to dangerously low levels at
times. The Sea of
Galilee is at risk of becoming irreversibly
salinized by the salt water springs under the lake, which are held in
check by the weight of the freshwater on top of them.
Up until the mid-2010s, about 400,000,000 cubic metres (1.4×1010 cu
ft) of water was pumped through the National Water Carrier each year.
Under the terms of the
Israel–Jordan peace treaty
Israel–Jordan peace treaty ,
supplies 50,000,000 cubic metres (1.8×109 cu ft) of water annually
from the lake to
Jordan . In recent years the Israeli government has
made extensive investments in water conservation, reclamation and
desalination infrastructure in the country. This has allowed it to
significantly reduce the amount of water pumped from the lake annually
in an effort to restore and improve its ecological environment, as
well as respond to some of the most extreme drought conditions in
hundreds of years affecting the lake's intake basin since 1998.
Therefore, it is expected that in 2016 only about 25,000,000 cubic
metres (880,000,000 cu ft) of water will be drawn from the lake for
Israeli domestic consumption, a small fraction of the amount typically
drawn from the lake over the previous decades.
Tourists on a boat at Tiberias, 1891 The beach of the Sea
Tilapia zilli (redbelly tilapia, "St. Peter's
fish"), served in a
Tourism around the Sea of
Galilee is an important economic branch.
Historical and religious sites in the region draw both local and
foreign tourists. The Sea of
Galilee is an attraction for Christian
pilgrims who visit
Israel to see the places where
miracles according the
New Testament , such as his walking on water ,
calming the storm and feeding the multitude . Alonzo Ketcham Parker, a
nineteenth-century American traveler, called visiting the Sea of
Galilee "a 'fifth gospel' which one read devoutly, his heart
overflowing with quiet joy".
In April 2011,
Israel unveiled a 40-mile (64 km) hiking trail in the
Galilee for Christian pilgrims, called the "
Jesus Trail ". It includes
a network of footpaths, roads and bicycle paths linking sites central
to the lives of
Jesus and his disciples. It ends at
Capernaum on the
shores of the Sea of Galilee, where
Jesus espoused his teachings.
Another key attraction is the site where the Sea of Galilee's water
flows into the
Jordan River , to which thousands of pilgrims from all
over the world come to be baptized every year.
Israel's most well-known open water swim race, the Kinneret Crossing,
is held every year in September, drawing thousands of open water
swimmers to participate in competitive and noncompetitive events.
Tourists also partake in the building of rafts on Lavnun Beach,
called Rafsodia. Here many different age groups work together to build
a raft with their bare hands and then sail that raft across the sea.
Other economic activities include fishing in the lake and agriculture
, particularly bananas , dates, mangoes, grapes and olives in the
fertile belt of land surrounding it.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The warm waters of the Sea of
Galilee support various flora and
fauna, which have supported a significant commercial fishery for more
than two millennia. Local flora include various reeds along most of
the shoreline as well as phytoplankton . Fauna include zooplankton ,
benthos and a number of fish species such as Acanthobrama
terraesanctae . Fish caught commercially include Tristramella simonis
Sarotherodon galilaeus , locally called "St. Peter’s Fish". In
2005, 300 short tons (270 t) of tilapia were caught by local
fishermen. This dropped to 8 short tons (7.3 t) in 2009 due to
However, low water levels in drought years have stressed the lake's
ecology. This may have been aggravated by over-extraction of water for
either the National Water Carrier to supply other parts of
since 1994, for the supply of water to
Jordan (see "Water use" section
above). Droughts of the early and mid-1990s dried out the marshy
northern margin of the lake. A fish species that is unique to the
Tristramella sacra , used to spawn in the marsh and has not been
seen since the 1990s droughts. Conservationists fear this species may
have become extinct . It is hoped that drastic reductions in the
amount of water pumped through the National Water Carrier will help
restore the lake's ecology over the span of several years. As such,
the amount planned to be drawn in 2016 for Israeli domestic water use
is expected to be less than 10% of the amount commonly drawn on an
annual basis in the decades before the mid-2010s.
PANORAMIC AND SATELLITE VIEWS
Panoramic view of the Sea of
Galilee View of the Sea of
Galilee from space Panoramic view of the south end of the Sea
of Galilee, taken from Switzerland Forest near
* Water portal
* Bible portal
* Sea of
* Miracles of
* Tourism in
* ^ A B Aaron T. Wolf, Hydropolitics along the
Jordan River, United
Nations University Press, 1995
* ^ A B Exact-me.org
* ^ A B Data Summary:
Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)
* ^ "Kinneret – General" (in Hebrew).
Israel Oceanographic &
Limnological Research Ltd.
* ^ The 1996-discovered subglacial
Lake Vostok challenges both
records; it is estimated to be 200 m (660 ft) to 600 m (2,000 ft)
below sea level.
* ^ Easton's Revised Bible Dictionary, Chinnereth. Another
speculation is that the name comes from a fruit called in Biblical
Hebrew kinar, which is thought to be the fruit of Ziziphus
* ^ A B Avraham Negev, Shimon Gibson, ed. (2001). Archaeological
Encyclopedia of the Holy Land. New York, London: Continuum. p. 285.
ISBN 0-8264-1316-1 .
* ^ Easton, Gennesaret.
* ^ Easton, Tiberias
* ^ "Khirbet Al-Minya". Jalili48. Professor Dr. Moslih Kanaaneh. 12
May 2006. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
* ^ In the time of the
Byzantine Empire , the lake's significance
in Jesus' life made it a major destination for Christian pilgrims .
This led to the growth of a full-fledged tourist industry, complete
with package tours and plenty of comfortable inns.
* ^ The Preamble of the League of Nations Mandate Archived
2016-04-21 at the
Wayback Machine .
* ^ Franco-British Convention on Certain Points Connected with the
Syria and the Lebanon, Palestine and Mesopotamia, signed
Dec. 23, 1920. Text available in American Journal of International
Law, Vol. 16, No. 3, 1922, 122–126.
* ^ The boundaries of modern Palestine, 1840–1947 (2004), by
Gideon Biger. Publisher Rutledge Curzon. ISBN 978-0-7146-5654-0 , p.
* ^ The boundaries of modern Palestine, 1840–1947, p. 150. and
* ^ The boundaries of modern Palestine, 1840–1947, p. 145.
* ^ Agreement between His Majesty\'s Government and the French
Government respecting the Boundary Line between
Syria and Palestine
from the Mediterranean to El Hámmé Archived 2008-09-09 at the
Wayback Machine ., Treaty Series No. 13 (1923), Cmd. 1910. Page 7.
* ^ "
Israel and the Palestinians - a history - guardian.co.uk -
* ^ The Year of 1948
* ^ Paz, Yitzhak; Moshe, Reshef; Ben-Avraham, Zvie ; Shmuel, Marco;
Tibor, Gideon; Nadel, Dani (2013). "A Submerged Monumental Structure
in the Sea of Galilee, Israel". International Journal of Nautical
Archaeology. 42 (1): 189–193. doi :10.1111/1095-9270.12005 .
* ^ "Mysterious structure found at bottom of ancient lake".
CNN.com. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
* ^ "Black gold under the Golan".
The Economist . 7 November 2015.
Retrieved 8 November 2015.
* ^ A B C Amit, Hagai (1 June 2016). "הקו האדום של
הכנרת נהפך לבעיה של הירדנים" .
Retrieved 12 June 2016.
* ^ Fischhendler, Itay (2008). "When Ambiguity in Treaty Design
Becomes Destructive: A Study of Transboundary Water". Global
Environmental Politics . Retrieved 2008-11-28.
* ^ Kinneret Basin Water Level
* ^ Skynews report, 5 May 2009: Race To Save Sea Of
* ^ Shmuel Kantor. "The National Water Carrier".
* ^ "Developments related to the
Middle East Peace Process". UN.
* ^ Parker, A. K., "The Sea of Galilee" in The Biblical World, Vol.
7, No. 4 (April 1896), pages 264–272
* ^ Daniel Estrin, Canadian Press (April 15, 2011). "
hiking trail in
Galilee for Christian pilgrims".
Yahoo! News .
Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
* ^ "Still Fishers of Men". Vermont Catholic. 1 (12): 3. June 2010.
* ^ A B C Goren, M. (2006). "Tristramella sacra". The IUCN Red List
of Threatened Species. International Union for Conservation of Nature
. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to SEA OF GALILEE .
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for SEA OF GALILEE .
* World Lakes Database entry for Sea of Galilee
* Kinneret Data Center // Kinneret