Jesus clearly knew Bethsaida well (Matt. 11:21). Early Christian travelers also knew the town, just north of the Sea of Galilee, which was home to Peter, Andrew and Philip (John 1:44) and, according to tradition, Zebedee and his sons. It was also scene of the feeding of the 5,000 according to Luke (9:10-17) and of Jesus’ healing of a blind man (Mark 8:22-26).
In later centuries, when travel became difficult, this location was actually forgotten! Now, thanks to archaeology, Bethsaida has reopened its gates to visitors. Following the rediscovery of Capernaum, and more recently Korazim, Bethsaida is the last of the three towns of the “Evangelical Triangle” of Jesus’ Galilee ministry to rejoin Christian itineraries.
Among the many treasures yielded by this 21-acre mound is a fisherman’s house, identified by stone net-weights, an anchor, a fishhook and even a needle for repairing nets, which recall Bethsaida’s fishermen disciples. And most thrilling of all: visitors can even walk a cobbled street from the time of Jesus.
Visitors can also learn Old Testament history here; Scholars tell us this was the capital of Geshur, the hometown of Maacah, wife of David’s youth (2 Sam 3:3). Massive burned gates are evidence of the destruction of the north by the Assyrians in 732 BCE, as recorded in 2 Kings 18:10.
Bethsaida is a shaded spot with a wonderful view of the Sea of Galilee and natural-rock seats make a perfect locale for Bible study and prayer.