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‘Jesus boat’ provides ‘porthole into the past’

Courtesy of The Original Jesus Boat Store of the Jesus Boat Museum, Nof Ginosar


‘Jesus boat’ provides ‘porthole into the past’

By Don Kirkland

The Jesus Boat offers insight into the fishing and seafaring past of the Sea of Galilee. The gospel accounts of the activities on the Sea of Galilee are many. Visiting the Jesus Boat makes these gospel passages come to life in a way that was not possible before. 

For about 2,000 years, it was just a boat stuck in the mud of the Sea of Galilee. Nobody saw it until a drought lowered the lake’s level.

Now it is on view for all to see, providing what has been called “a remarkable porthole into the past.” It is nicknamed the “Jesus boat” because it dates to the time of Christ.

The boat was discovered in 1986. As preserved, it is 26 and a half feet long, seven and a half feet wide, and four and a half feet deep.

Probably, it was a fishing boat which used a seine net. But it could also carry cargo and passengers on the lake. Normally, it would have had a crew of four rowers and a helmsmen, or captain. It also could move by using a square sail and two pairs of oars.

The Jewish historian Josephus wrote about ships of this type holding up to 15 people. Officially known as the Sea of Galilee Boat, the vessel is one of the few artifacts in existence dating back to the time of Jesus. It offers insight into the area’s fishing and seafaring business.

The Sea of Galilee is located 60 miles north of Jerusalem. On its run from Mount Hermon in the North to the Dead Sea in the South, the Jordan River runs through it.

Actually a lake, the Sea of Galilee is 13 miles long and as many as eight miles wide.

The gospel accounts indicate that fishing was a prosperous industry in biblical times. That is not so today. Fleets of boats in the time of Jesus have been replaced by only a few now.

Much of the ministry of Jesus was conducted in this area. At the time of Christ, nine cities with 15,000 or more people in each stood on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Especially noteworthy is Capernaum. It was the home of Peter and Andrew. Matthew collected taxes there. And it was the scene of much activity by Jesus in his Galilean ministry.

On the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus called his first disciples. Four of them were fishermen. He made them into fishers of men (Matthew 4:18, Luke 5:1-11).

Jesus performed two miracles on the Sea of Galilee, which is known for its sudden, violent storms.

On one occasion, the Lord stilled a storm that had arisen quickly (Mark 4:39). Another time, Jesus walked on the water of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:22-34, Mark 6:45-53, John 6:15-21).

Don Kirkland, The Baptist Courier, 2004

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