In the afternoon of Day 2 we went to Tabgha, Capharnaum (also known as Capernaum) and Mount of the Beatitudes.
The Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha is a replica built in 1982 of the original 5th century church, but much of the mosaic floor is original. Glass panels in the floor reveal remains of the original church. Beneath the altar is a rock, believed to be the rock in which Jesus performed a miracle with the multiplication of loaves and fishes (Mark 6:30-44).
The mosaic in front of the altar is the most famous in the country.
Capharnaum, also known as Jesus’s adopted hometown since he spent so much time there staying in Peter’s house, is where many events in the earthly life and ministry of Jesus took place (Matthew 4:13). He performed many miracles here including the healing of the paralytic lowered through the roof of Peter’s house, feeding of the five thousand with just a few loaves of bread and fish, as well as when Jesus preached the famous “I Am the Bread of Life” sermon.
Capharnaum was a key transit point between the land of Herod and his brother Philip and therefore earned substantial revenue from taxes and import duties. The town was an important pilgrimage center for early Christians.
We visited the site of the House of Peter where a 5th century octagonal church was built over the archeological ruins.
The Mount of Beatitudes is a hill and the traditional site of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It is 82 feet below sea level and 656 feet above the Sea of Galilee, making it one of the lowest summits in the world.
The Church of the Beatitudes is an octagonal building built in 1938. The eight sides of the church represent the eight beatitudes or blessings recited by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount which are also shown in the eight stained glass windows on each side of the church.
Our next stop was Magdala and then Arbel National Park. Magdala is an ancient Jewish city believed to be the birthplace of Mary Magdalene.
Archeologists found the Magdala stone which has a seven branched menorah carved on it. Presumably, the front and sides of the stone carvings represent the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and the back side depicting wheels and fire represents the Holy of Holies.
Arbel National Park is a mountain with a dramatic cliff where a cave fortress is carved into the rock, along with ruins of an ancient first century synagogue and the site of a famous battle. The fortification was built by the Galilean Jews who barricaded themselves here around 37 B.C. Herod’s army was sent to overcome the rebels and was only able to do so after he lowered his best warriors in cages suspended by ropes. Arbel has one hundred caves within its mountain slope, scenes of many bloody battles.
This area of Magdala and Arbel is the path Jesus took when he traveled from his hometown of Nazareth to his adopted home at Capharnaum.
We finished the day walking in Jesus’ footsteps in the Valley of the Doves. Jesus traveled this route many times as he made his way back and forth from the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. It is called Valley of the Doves because as the wind blows between two mountains into the valley, it makes a sound like the flapping of dove wings. A beautiful, quiet, peaceful area where you could imagine Jesus walking beside you.
Can you believe we covered all this in one day? Spiritually enlightening and physically exhausting. Lots of prayers, Bible readings and hymn singing. Lots of walking and stairs.
Next up: Jericho, the Dead Sea and so much more!!