Easily visible from Jesus’ hometown of Capernaum, Tiberias, the regional capital built by Herod Antipas, stood on the western side of the sea. The city was shunned by religious Jews because it was supposedly built over a cemetery, making it ritually impure. We have no record that Jesus ever visited there.
Tiberias was named after the emperor Tiberius and was built on a hill overlooking the sea. The hot mineral springs in the area were used as a health spa by Herod and the people of the city. Little is known of its inhabitants, assumed to be the Herodions who opposed Jesus’ ministry (Matt. 22:15-22; Mark 3:6; 12:13-17). Apparently, they were an aristocratic group who supported the Herod dynasty and the Romans who kept it in power.
The Herodions were used by Rome to keep the peace. They plotted Jesus’ execution, probably because the many messianic movements of the time threatened their power. It is ironic that Jesus’ ministry took place so close to those who bitterly opposed him.
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