This morning I saw the sunrise over the See of Galilee. Umm-Saah. breathe in – out.
We are staying at the Mount of Beatitudes guest house run by Italian Franciscan sisters. It’s in Galilee, on the sea – and very new – nice.
This morning after a Mediterranean breakfast – yogurt, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, goat cheese, and bread sticks dipped in sesame seeds in olive oil – much to love already, we gathered for a pow-wow then set off to visit Capernaum. Learned something new already: Capernaum is strategically located – Jesus used it as HQ for a reason. There are two main roads that run the length of Israel, N – S, one on the Mediterranean side of the Jordan and mountain ranges, Via Maris (“the way of the sea”), and one on the East side the King’s Highway. Then there are lots of smaller E-W roads to connect the country. A town that sat on the intersection of a N-S and E-W road was in a great position to collect tolls. Capernaum was one such town, the first town you would encounter coming down fro the N from Syria towards Jerusalem. It’s called the Jerusalem to Damascus road. It is also an excellent location from which to launch a movement. Everyone comes and goes through there. Peter, chosen first, was from Capernaum. And he was not a totally poor peasant as many of the people in Galilee were – he owned a boat. Yes, a small fishing boat, but a boat. That probably meant that he had a bit of capital – wood was very expensive because there was no useful wood native to the area; boat wood would have had to have been imported. Also, Peter alone, on the night of Jesus’ trial made it all the way into Caiaphas, the high priest’s house – he was a man who had the standing to do that – so he was a notable in Capernaum – the perfect one to help spearhead a new movement.
Also it is remarkable that when you are at the door of the synagogue in Jerusalem, looking towards the sea of Galilee, only a hundred yards away (my rough estimate), in between you and the sea is Peter’s house! Now the question is, is it really “Peter’s” house? Well no one can be certain, but by the 4th Century, it had been identified as such and supposedly the trail goes back to inscriptions left there from earlier times – so maybe it really is his house. Now, today, all you can see of Peter’s house is the ruins of an octagonal structure which is a 4th century house, in the middle of which are discernible ruins of a 1st century home – i.e. Peter’s. When Jesus was rejected as Nazareth, he went to strategically-located Capernaum, found Peter, a local notable, whose home was smack-dab in the center of town between the synagogue and the sea where he ran a small fishing business and had access to water transportation; smart – very smart.