Bethsaida

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Bethsaida
בית צידה
Israel outline northeast.png
Red pog.svg
Bethsaida
LocationGalilee, Israel
History
Founded1st century BC
Abandoned65 AD
 
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Bethsaida
בית צידה
Israel outline northeast.png
Red pog.svg
Bethsaida
LocationGalilee, Israel
History
Founded1st century BC
Abandoned65 AD

Bethsaida /ˌbɛθ.sˈdə/ (Greek: Βηθσαΐδά bēthsaidá;, from Hebrew/Aramaic בית צידה beth-tsaida "house of fishing") is a place mentioned in the New Testament.

Bethsaida Julias[edit]

A city east of the Jordan River, in a “desert place” (that is, uncultivated ground used for grazing) possibly the site at which Jesus miraculously fed the multitude with five loaves and two fish (Mark 6:32; Luke 9:10). It may be possible to identify this site with the village of Bethsaida in Lower Gaulanitis which the tetrarch Herod Philip I raised to the rank of a polis in the year 30/31, and renamed it Julias, in honor of Livia, the wife of Augustus. It lay near the place where the Jordan enters the Sea of Gennesaret (Ant., XVIII, ii, 1; BJ, II, ix, 1; III, x, 7; Vita, 72). This city was most likely located at et-Tell, a ruined site on the east side of the Jordan on rising ground, 2 km from the sea. This distance poses a problem however. Why would a fishing village be so far from the water? A combination of three hypothesises can explain this:-

  1. Tectonic rifting has uplifted et-Tell ( the site is located on the Great African-Syrian Rift fault)
  2. the water level has dropped from increased population usage, land irrigation, and
  3. the Jordan delta has been extended by sedimentation.

Dissenters suggest two other sites as possible locations for Bethsaida: el-Araj and El-Mesydiah. Both of these sites are located on the present shoreline, however, preliminary excavations, including the use of ground penetrating radar, have revealed only a small number of ruins not dating from before the Byzantine Period. Schumacher was, however inclined to favor el-Mes‛adīyeh (a ruin and winter village of Arab et-Tellawīyeh) which stands on an artificial mound about a mile and a half from the mouth of the Jordan. However, the name is in origin radically different from Bethsaida. The substitution of sin for cad is easy; but the insertion of the guttural ‛ain is impossible[dubious ]. No trace of the name Bethsaida has been found in the district; but any one of the sites named would meet the requirements. To this neighborhood Jesus retired by boat with His disciples to rest a while. The multitude following on foot along the northern shore of the lake would cross the Jordan by the ford at its mouth which is used by foot travelers to this day. The “desert” of the narrative is just the barrīyeh of the Arabs where the animals are driven out for pasture. The “green grass” of Mark 6:39, and the “much grass” of John 6:10, point to some place in the plain of el-Baṭeiḥah, on the rich soil of which the grass is green and plentiful compared with the scanty herbage on the higher slopes.

Bethsaida of Galilee[edit]

Here dwelt Philip, Andrew, Peter (John 1:44; John 12:21), and perhaps also James and John. The house of Andrew and Peter seems to have been not far from the synagogue in Capernaum (Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:29, etc.) on the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. Unless they had moved their residence from Bethsaida to Capernaum, of which there is no record, and which for fishermen was unlikely, Bethsaida must have lain close to Capernaum. It may have been the fishing town adjoining the larger city. As in the case of the other Bethsaida, no name has been recovered to guide us to the site. On the rocky promontory, however, east of Khān Minyeh we find Sheikh ‛Aly eṣ-Ṣaiyādīn, “Sheikh Aly of the Fishermen,” as the name of a ruined weley, in which the second element in the name Bethsaida is represented (see also Al Minya). Nearby is the site at ‛Ain et-Ṭābigha, which many have identified with Bethsaida of Galilee. The warm water from copious springs runs into a little bay of the sea in which fish congregate in great numbers. This has therefore always been a favorite haunt of fishermen. If Capernaum were at Khān Minyeh, then the two lay close together. The names of many ancient places have been lost, and others have strayed from their original localities. The absence of any name resembling Bethsaida need not concern us. Bethsaida was the birth place of Saint Peter (John 1:44).

Were there two Bethsaidas?[edit]

Many scholars maintain that all the New Testament references to Bethsaida apply to one place, namely, Bethsaida Julias. The arguments for and against this view may be summarized as follows:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ William Sanday, Sacred Sites of the Gospels, 42.

References[edit]

Bethsaida, a City by the Northern Shores of the Sea of Galilee, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 co-edited with Dr. Richard Freund (Harry Truman Univ. Press, 2004).

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°54′36″N 35°37′52″E / 32.910°N 35.631°E / 32.910; 35.631