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Beside The Still Waters

On the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee lies the Cove of the Sower, a stretch of quiet, untouched beach laden with memories of Jesus’ miracles and teachings.

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Distant View of Sea of Galilee On the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee lies the Cove of the Sower, a stretch of quiet, untouched beach laden with memories of Jesus’ miracles and teachings.

“Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times” (Mark 4:8)

 

If any place deserves the name “miracle mile,” it’s the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. Between Capernaum to the east and the place of the multiplication of loaves and fishes to the west, this tiny area was the backdrop for a rich array of events of Jesus’ Galilee ministry. And if you stretch it a bit further east to Bethsaida, and then northward, you’ve got an apex at Chorazim and the Mount of Beatitudes that gives you the famed Evangelical Triangle, which Jesus crisscrossed frequently as he preached and healed.

 

The beach along this northern shoreline has been unofficially named after one of Jesus’ most famous parables – the Cove of the Sower. The Gospels relate that Jesus told this parable by the lake, where so many people lined the shore that he got into a boat to speak to them. Jesus took the imagery of this parable directly from the landscape his audience knew so well. It speaks of a farmer who went out to sow his seed. In better kinds of soil, he found it sprouted a huge harvest. But when the seed fell among rocks and thorns, though at first it seemed to take root and even sprout, the seedlings did not live long. Jesus’ listeners would have found it easy to understand how Jesus compared the sowing of seed to disseminating the word of God, and the message got among various kinds of people. The “hundredfold” harvest would have amazed these ancient farmers, and would have kept the story echoing in their minds for a long time.

 

Not only farmers were in Jesus’ audience, but fishermen, too, as of course his closest disciples were. In the area of the Cove of the Sower, warm springs bubble out of the ground or the lake-bed, attracting fish and the creatures they in turn feed on, and making this area prime fishing grounds. As you walk along the shore here, it is easy to imagine Jesus doing the same so long ago. Here he encountered “Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew… casting a net into the lake for they were fishermen” (Matt. 4:18).
The pair may have been using the parachute-type cast-net thrown from the shallows (and still in use today) to make their catch. Nearby, Jesus also called to him two other fishermen, the sons of Zebedee.
A path leads down to this area from the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. Directly across the road from the end of the path (as you cross, watch out for speeding cars – one thing the ancients didn’t have to worry about!) is a short flight of steps. They intersect a portion of paved walkway parallel to the shore that was built by the Ministry of Tourism for pilgrims. The steps lead down to the water’s edge and Ein Ayub – Job’s spring. This gushing fountainhead emerges from the mountainside in the Israel Nature and Parks Authority’s Capernaum National Park, in a small waterfall that sparkles in the Galilee sunlight.
According to tradition, Job found relief here from the painful sores that afflicted him as part of his trials. The locals still tell tales of miraculous healings here, and the remains of a pool in an old stone tower-pool can be seen nearby.

 

This area is a feast for the senses: date palms dip their crowns gracefully down toward the shore, which is studded with Abraham’s balm bushes, with their hand-shaped leaves said to be reminiscent of the angel who held up a hand to stop Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. Mint perfumes the air, while herons perch among the bulrushes and dark volcanic rocks in the shallows, and brilliantly colored kingfishers dart through the sky.

 

From here, it’s back up to the walk and west to the nearby sanctuary of Peter’s Primacy, where the events of John 21 took place. Tabgha is just beyond, and the church commemorating the miracle of the Jesus’ multiplication of five loaves and two fish to feed a crowd of 5000. Matthew 14:15-21, inter alia).
Tabgha comes from the Greek word heptapegon, meaning “place of the seven springs,” of which Job’s Spring is no doubt one. When the pilgrim Egeria, a woman from Spain or France, came here in the fourth century, she already reported seeing a church on this site. In the nave of the present-day church, last restored in 1983, is the famed mosaic of the loaves and fishes, among many others that feature colorful nature notifs and date back to the earliest Christian observance here. An old-new place to stay now welcomes travelers on the western edge of this crescent of Galilee lakeshore. It is the Tabgha Pilgrim’s House, built in 1889 by the German Association of the Holy Land, which still owns the property. In 2001, after decades of use as a youth hostel, this beautiful complex built of local basalt stone underwent a complete facelift and reopened its doors to pilgrims and other visitors. The lasteful restoration of the Pilgrim’s House earned it a prize last year for outstanding preservation and conservation from Israel’s Council for the Preservation of Buildings and Historic Sites.

Early risers can walk down to the lakeshore here and watch the fishermen pulling their catch ashore after a night on the water, as Peter and the others did at this very spot two millennia ago – a perfect beginning to your walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

 

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