Sing: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind UMH 358
Our flight from Dallas to Newark was late due to 3 inches of snow in Newark. So, we missed our first half-day of touring. When we landed in Israel on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, it was already late in the afternoon. By the time we got our luggage loaded on our bus a light, cold drizzle had begun to fall. Because of the overcast skies and the impending sunset, it was fairly dark as we left Tel Aviv and as we approached our destination of Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee, it was totally dark except for the occasional flash of lightning. We got our luggage put away, ate supper at the hotel, and then went to bed (I had been awake for about 36 hours).
I awoke refreshed in the morning, anxious to start my Israel adventure. I immediately went to our window to check the weather, but I was not prepared for what I saw: the deep blue water of the Sea of Galilee surrounded by beautifully green hills. I was awe-struck! The Sea of Galilee sits at about 600 feet below sea-level and is surrounded by hills except on the north where the Jordan River flows into it and on the south where the Jordan River flows out. The Jordan River valley, the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea are all part of the Great Rift Valley that starts in southeast Africa.
In my readings and Bible studies, I occasionally come across a reference to the area we call “Galilee” as “the Galilee.” I wanted to know, “Why the ‘the’?” What I found was that the Greek name “Galilee” is derived from Hebrew words that mean “the area,” “the circle,” or “the region. These “names” were usually used derisively in the same way that you or I might say, “The Boondocks.” The Galilee is divided into three parts: Upper Galilee, which is west and north of the Sea of Galilee; Lower Galilee which is west and south of the Sea of Galilee; and, the Sea of Galilee, or Lake Tiberias, itself.
The city of Tiberias is perched on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee just below the mid-point of the lake. It is considered one of Judaism’s four holy cities along with Jerusalem, Hebron, and Safed. Our hotel was on the south side of Tiberias and as we drove north through the city most of our attention was concentrated on the beautiful lake to our right and the hills all around. We could still see some of the storms of the night before moving off to the south and the east when suddenly it appeared. Looking due north, just as we were leaving the north end of Tiberias, we saw a rainbow over the Sea of Galilee. This was not the last wonderful sight we were going to see from inside our moving bus, but fortunately I got good photographs of two of them. This is going to be a GREAT trip!