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Sites that Jesus Saw:

Early in June, we were in Galilee, Israel. Several years ago, the region was in a terrible drought and the levels of the Sea of Galilee dropped significantly. Archeologists found an ancient fishing boat preserved in the bottom of the lake. They created this replica fishing boat. So when Peter, James and John had toiled all night fishing, this is what their boats probably looked like. They would have been propelled with oars from the sides, however. It looks very heavy and cumbersome.

The water is pleasantly cool and there are still lots of fish in the lake. Here's a meal they offer tourists nearby.

The fish is a talipia. Obviously I had already started eating before I thought to take a picture. Flatbread, and vegetable dishes, hummus, olives etc were on the salad bar.

Nearby is Capernaum. This is where Jesus lived and was headquarters for much of His ministry. The pillars in the background are from a later synagogue, but it is thought to be built on the site where Jesus would have taught. The ruins in the foreground are from private homes. The Private homes were built with domiciles surrounding a central courtyard. One family would live in the compound. When a man took a wife, she would move into the compound with his parents and other family members.

The remains of this domicile are thought to have belonged to Peter because the Christian sign of the fish was engraved above the door. It's a large dwelling by first century standards and would have accommodated lots of visitors. There is a church built on stilts over the top of the location with a plexiglass floor so visitors can look down into the site without disturbing it.

The Sea of Galilee was calm this day. Sudden storms can still be quite ferocious, however.

This is inside the chapel of the loaves and fishes. Though there is no indication of precisely where those miracles took place, tradition suggests that it is near here. The chapel itself was first built between 300-400 C.E. The mosaics in the chapels built in the fourth century are interesting. Helen, the mother of the Roman emperor Constantine travelled to the Holy Land and "discovered," either by legend, tradition or inspiration, where the events of Jesus's life and ministry took place. The miracle of Jesus making a few loaves and fish into enough to feed 5000 men and their families is said to have happened in a wilderness place. Later he did a similar miracle where he fed 4000 men and their families.

Here is a man who was restoring the ancient pattern in the floor of the same "Loaves and Fishes" chapel. He uses the original pieces and replaces them to match the rest of the floor.

The restorer poured a little water on it and rubbed it off to show us what it will look like when it's finished.

Jesus went to John the Baptist down near where the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea. In those days, there was enough flow to baptize by immersion but now, the water is used for irrigation and there's little left of it by the time it gets to the Dead Sea. Consequently, the Dead Sea has shrunk significantly.

This is what the Jordan river looks like as it flows out of the Sea of Galilee, 150 miles to the north of where Jesus was baptized. The water is clear and cool and chest deep or deeper in the middle. Now, there are businesses renting out white tunics and priests to perform baptisms. It's a happy place, with people recommitting to be disciples of Jesus. There's also an expensive gift shop operated by a nearby Kibbutz. The first time we visited, we bought something called "Israeli Honey" from that gift store. It was a spread for crackers or filling for cookies. I recreated it from the listed ingredients and gave it to my neighbors for Christmas. Here's the recipe.

Soak 2 cups of chopped dates in warm water for an hour. Blend with a little of the soaking liquid until fairly smooth. Add to a sauce pan and add,

2 cups finely chopped walnuts,1 cup of corn syrup, 1/2 cup honey. Cook until it forms a loose paste consistency. I added a teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and that made it even better. The original, though labelled "Israeli honey,' didn't actually have any honey in it. But it was sure tasty and fun to serve to company. I do think the honey makes it better, too.

Feel free to ask questions or comment! Have a delightful day!

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