Sea of Galilee GeographyAlthough it has many names, most New Testament readers recognize “the Sea of Galilee” as its common designation. It is also called the Sea of Kinnereth (Num. 34:11; Josh. 12:3), the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1), the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1; 21:1), and sometimes simply “the lake” (John 6:16).

Set in the hills of northern Israel, the Sea of Galilee is nearly 700 feet below sea level. It is nearly eight miles wide at its widest point, and more than 12 miles long from north to south. In places, the sea plunges to depths of 200 feet.

Many first-time visitors are surprised to see that from any point on the rocky shore, all other locations along the shoreline are visible. Around the sea, the hills of Galilee reach nearly 1,400 feet above sea level, and the mountains of the Golan Heights (called the Decapolis in Jesus’ time) reach more than 2,500 feet.

Much of the sea’s beauty comes from being nestled among the hills;green in the spring, brown during the dry season, which contrast with the deep blue of the water. The slopes of the Golan Heights on the east and Mount Arbel on the west drop sharply down to the sea.

The sea’s location makes it subject to sudden and violent storms as the wind comes over the eastern mountains and drops suddenly onto the sea. Storms are especially likely when an east wind blows cool air over the warm air that covers the sea. The cold air (being heavier) drops as the warm air rises. This sudden change can produce surprisingly furious storms in a short time, as it did in Jesus’ day (Matt. 8:24).


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