Day 3: The Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) Cruise
The third day of our tour began a short drive from the Kibbutz to Tiberias and a 45-minute cruise on the Sea of Galilee. The lake is around 13 miles long, seven miles wide and is completely ringed by cliffs and steep hills. The lake is 700 feet below sea level, which accounts for its subtropical climate and vegetation. It is fed by runoff from the Golan Heights, and reduced precipitation as well as extraction to meet the water needs of the growing country are slowly and noticeably reducing it's level.
A significant amount of the life of Jesus recorded in the gospels is on or around the Sea of Galilee and the biblical references are too numerous to mention. We would subsequently visit many of the traditional locations ascribed to these biblical events during the rest of the day, although the actual historicity and geography of many of those events is likely lost in time.
The boat operators were efficient and pleasant, but they had this curious desire to play DJ with their boat's sound system. They played the American, Israeli and Australian national anthems to welcome our party aboard and then cranked up a soundtrack of pop Christian anthems to give a high fructose supercharge to the experience.
However, when the boat stopped in the middle of the lake and our tour guide stopped the music and asked if anyone wanted to say a few words, I was inspired to ask if we could just have a minute or two of silence to contemplate what we were experiencing. On the day of our visit, the lake was remarkably still and peaceful, and despite the visible development onshore, it was easy to imagine life on the lake in times long past. Unencumbered by ritual and ornamentation of many other biblical sites, the experience was timeless while evoking deep memories of biblical stories all of us had been taught from childhood. I received numerous thank you's from other tour members later for my request, and my mother would subsequently cite this cruise as the highlight of her trip - despite her fear of water.
Next: The Ancient Galilee Boat