The Galilee Jesus Knew by Biblical Archaeological Society

By Biblical Archaeological Society

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There was some hope as long as John was held in Galilee, presumably in its capital city, Tiberias. Jesus would have become seriously worried only when he heard that the Baptist had been transferred to the remote fortress of Macherus in Perea. Although John’s death had not yet been decided, it was imperative to maintain the momentum of the Baptist’s ministry in Galilee. Jesus decided that it was his responsibility to replace John in Galilee. As the Gospels record, “When [Jesus] heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee” (Matthew 4:12//Mark 1:14).

Tiberias, a large town at the southern end of the lake, soon surrendered to Vespasian. The Romans then built a large fortified camp between Tiberias and Migdal. The Jews from Migdal, under Jeshua Ben Shafat, carried out a daring raid on the camp that caught the Romans by surprise. When the Romans managed to organize themselves, the Jews effected an orderly retreat, and taking to their boats, rowed out into the lake. When they reached bowshot range, they anchored “phalanx-like” opposite the Romans and engaged them in an archery battle.

The change was radical. But how that came about is another story. Notes a. The term “synoptic,” from the Greek for “seeing together,” refers to the fact that the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke share much material and can be printed in three parallel columns so that their correspondence can be “seen together” at a glance, as in the first sidebar to this article. b. Acts is universally recognized as a continuation of Luke, by the same author. c. ” I suspect that the name “Bethany beyond the Jordan” is an invention of one of the editors of the Fourth Gospel, who assumed that since the Baptist had an audience, there must have been a town.

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