The Sea of Galilee: Beautiful and Spiritual
The Sea of Galilee was first described in Numbers as God explained the boundaries of Caanan to Moses, “…the east side of Ain and continue along the slopes east of the Sea of Galilee.” (34:11). In the Hebrew Bible the Sea of Galilee is called Yom Kinnereth, ים־כנרת, today simply referred to as The Kinneret.
While the Sea of Galilee is referred to as a ‘sea’ by tradition, by definition it is a fresh-water lake. It actually is the lowest fresh water lake on earth sitting approximately 700 feet (213 meters) below sea level. Its main water supply is from the Jordan River which enters the lake at its northern end and exits at its southern.
With a plethora of recreational, historical and spiritual sites surrounding its shore, the Sea of Galilee draws tourists from across Israel and around the world. The beaches draw Israeli families and wind surfer enthusiasts during summer days. Places exhibiting the history of Israel such as at places like Kibbutz Degania, the first kibbutz in Israel, can be found around the shore as well.
However, probably the most significant sites for visitors to the Sea of Galilee are those concerning the ministry of Jesus Christ. From Jesus’ hometown of Capernaum on the shore to viewing the 2000-year-old Jesus Boat to Mount Beatitudes rising above the lake pilgrims to the Sea of Galilee experience the actual footsteps of Jesus. As a matter of fact, for most Christians a Holy Land pilgrimage could not be complete without a visit to the Sea of Galilee.
When visiting the Sea of Galilee for any reason a point should be made to awaken early as the sun is rising over the Golan Heights. The lake is beautiful at this time of day and visitors will be able to watch the local fishermen as they go out for the day’s catch. As the sun climbs over the Golan the lake turns all kinds of wonderful reds and yellows. It is a spectacular sight.
In the summer due to the low altitude and surrounding cliffs, the Sea of Galilee can be quite hot and humid with average temperatures about 90 degrees F (31 C) and about 70% relative humidity. However, the sun is bright and the water is tepid at 80 degrees F (28 C). Visitors in the summer should plan outdoor activities (other than swimming) for morning and late afternoon when the temperatures are lower.
The winter months bring rain to the Sea of Galilee just as it does the rest of Israel. Nevertheless, the temperatures remain moderate at about 68 degrees F (18 C). Rain can fall about 20 days each month during the rainy season. While it might not be exactly be beach weather, armed with a rain poncho, visiting other sites around the Sea of Galilee can be pleasant in the cooler temperatures.
Possibly the most rewarding activity at the Sea of Galilee is to sail on her waters. A number of companies operate wooden boats so visitors can experience the lake firsthand. It is an entirely different perspective to view the Sea of Galilee from its center rather than from the shore.
The Sea of Galilee is a unique place on earth. After spending time basking in the history, the spirituality of this special place, it is nice to just sit and watch the sunset over Mount Arbel. This is moments like this that can change your perceptive on everything as you know you have witnessed something magnificent.