Page:A Brief Bible History (Boyd and Machen, 1922).djvu/74

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.



making that city apparently the center of his work. But before the details of the Galilæan ministry are studied, it will be well to cast a hurried glance at the geographical features of the country where Jesus' ministry was carried on.

The political divisions of Palestine have already been mentioned—Galilee in the north, under the tetrarch, Herod Antipas; Samaria and Judea to the south, under the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate. But the physical features of the country do not correspond at all to the political divisions. Physically the country is divided into four narrow strips, each about one hundred and fifty miles long, running from north to south. The westernmost strip is the coastal plain, along the Mediterranean Sea, into which Jesus hardly went; then comes the low hill country, the "shephela"; then the highlands, upon which Jerusalem is situated, reaching an altitude of some 2500 feet above sea level. These central highlands of Palestine are broken by the plain of Esdraelon, in southern Galilee. A little to the north of this plain, in a hill country, lies the town of Nazareth. East of the central highlands is the deep valley of the Jordan River. The Jordan rises in the extreme north of Palestine, one of its sources being on the slopes of the lofty Mount Hermon; then flows southward to the lake called "the waters of Merom"; then, issuing from that lake, it flows, after a short course, into the Lake of Gennesaret, or Sea of Galilee, which is about twelve miles long; then, issuing from the Lake of Gennesaret, it flows southward, through a very deep valley to the Dead Sea, which has no outlet and is extremely salt. During most of its course the Jordan Valley lies far below the level of the sea, being on account of this peculiarity absolutely unique among the river valleys of the world. The Dead Sea is 1292 feet, and the Lake of Gennesaret 682 feet, below sea level. It was on the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret that a large part of our Lord's ministry was carried on. Centuries of misrule have now ruined the country, but in those days Galilee supported a large population. The shores of the lake, particularly, were lined with villages and towns. The work of our Lord was thus carried on amid "life's throng and press," though from time to time he sought out the desert places for rest and prayer.

Matthew 4:18–22, and Parallels

At the beginning of the ministry on the shores of the Lake of Galilee, Jesus called the two pairs of brothers—Simon Peter and Andrew, and